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Mom was right: Eat lots of veggies

  • Published Saturday, April 5, 2014, at 10:14 a.m.

Mom was right: Eat lots of veggies

People who eat seven or more portions of fresh fruits and vegetables each day may reduce their risk of dying from a variety of diseases by as much as 42 percent over people who consume less than one portion, according to a new study by British researchers who tracked the eating habits of more than 65,000 people for 12 years.

The study, released in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, found that at any point over that period, people who ate seven or more portions of fruits and vegetables dropped their risk of death from cancer by 25 percent and from cardiovascular disease by 31 percent.

Consumption of vegetables and salad proved to have a greater “protective effect” than eating fresh fruit, and consuming canned fruits actually increased the statistical risk of death, according to the researchers at University College London. Fruit juices had no effect at all.

More remarkably, the researchers said they were able to quantify the health benefits per portion of fruits and vegetables consumed. One to three portions daily reduced the chance of death from any cause by 14 percent, three to five portions had a 29 percent impact, five to seven portions dropped the chances by 36 percent and seven or more portions produced a 42 percent decline in the risk of death. The benefits appeared to tail off at that level.

The study concluded that each daily portion of fresh vegetables reduced the overall risk of death by 16 percent. For salad, the benefit was 13 percent, and for fresh fruit it was 4 percent.

In the study, however, the researchers were cautious to make clear that “this study has found a strong association, but not necessarily a causal relationship” between fresh fruit and vegetable intake and declining mortality. “There are additional unmeasured confounders not included in the analyses, including other aspects of diet. Total energy intake and salt consumption were not measured, and assessment of fat intake was not made in most years, and were therefore not included in these analyses,” the authors wrote.

Women face heightened risk of Alzheimer’s

Women face a 1 in 6 chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease at 65, a much greater risk than men, according to an annual report by the Alzheimer’s Association.

The chance of a man getting the disease, which causes dementia and eventually leads to death, is 1 in 11, said the report, “2014 Alzheimer’s Diseases Facts and Figures.”

The chance of getting Alzheimer’s at 85 goes up to 1 in 5 women and 1 in 8 men.

Women also make up the majority of caregivers for those with Alzheimer’s with 2.5 times as many women providing 24-hour care than men, the report said. Among caregivers who report feeling isolation because of their task, 17 percent of women said it caused them to feel depressed compared to 2 percent of men.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the human toll of the disease is expected to grow as the Baby Boomers age. Between 2010 and 2050, the report said the number of people 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease is expected to grow 176 percent to 13.8 million.

The association’s report is available at bit.ly/1ka7HNa.

Washington Post Grand Forks Herald

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