Posts Tagged “fruits and vegetables”

‘A Dozen Reasons’ to Enjoy Safe and Healthy Fruits and Vegetables

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It’s time for the Alliance for Food and Farming’s annual “A Dozen Reasons” list to celebrate the bounty of choices in the produce aisle and remind everyone why it’s so important to eat more fruits and vegetables for better health and a longer life.

Nutrient-dense, delicious and filled with goodness, fruits and vegetables offer it all. Plus, decades of nutritional studies (mostly using conventionally grown produce) have shown that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables prevents diseases, improves physical and mental health and increases lifespan.

Here’s our 2024 list of A Dozen Reasons to Eat More Produce:

1) Apples: In addition to the many disease-fighting nutrients in an apple, red apples contain an antioxidant called quercetin, which can help fortify your immune system, especially when you’re under stress. And remember to eat the peel, which is rich in fiber and antioxidants.

2) Bell Peppers: Peppers are rich in Vitamin A and C. And the yellow, orange and red peppers are also high in beta carotene which has been shown to have cancer-fighting benefits.

3) Berries: Blueberries, strawberries and raspberries are rich in vitamins and antioxidants. Eat them together for a powerful nutrient-rich punch.

4) Cherries: Cherries are a good source of antioxidants, which studies have indicated may reduce the risk of heart disease. Can’t sleep, suffering from jet lag? Try eating some cherries. This delicious fruit also contains melatonin, which regulates sleep cycles and may be a helpful food for fighting jet lag and insomnia.

5) Grapes: Grapes of all colors are a natural source of beneficial antioxidants and other polyphenols, including the stilbenoid resveratrol, which studies have shown positively influence immune function. Big words to describe a nutritional benefit for this powerful little fruit.

6) Green Beans: A vegetable staple in many households, green beans are a good source of vitamins include Folate, and Vitamin A and C. But did you also know that green beans are a good source of minerals, especially manganese, that supports your metabolism and has antioxidant abilities.

7) Leafy Greens, Like Kale and Spinach: Often referred to as superfoods, studies have recently shown that in addition to disease-fighting characteristics, leafy greens keep your mind healthy too. Peer reviewed research found that people who ate one to two servings of leafy greens per day had a slower rates of cognitive decline.

8) Peaches and Nectarines: Juicy and delicious, these fruits provide 10 different vitamins plus fiber and potassium. Pregnant? Not only are these nutrient-rich fruits good for your growing baby, but the abundance of potassium assists in preventing muscle cramps and keeps energy levels up.

9) Pears: This fruit is high in fiber, a good source of Vitamin C and contains natural antioxidants. Including pears in your diet lowers the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease while promoting a healthy complexion and increased energy.

Reasons 10, 11 and 12:

A diet rich in fruits and vegetables has been shown to:
• Improve mental health by promoting a greater sense of well-being;
• Give your skin an attractive glow;
• Promote healthy weight maintenance;

And to make it a baker’s dozen, peer reviewed research has shown that if half of Americans increased their daily consumption of fruits and vegetables by a single serving, 20,000 cancer cases could be prevented annually.

Choose the produce that you prefer and is affordable and accessible for you and your family. Organic and conventional – decades of studies and government sampling data show that both production methods yield very safe food that consumers can eat with confidence. Don’t let anyone or any group discourage or scare you away from choosing the produce you enjoy.

And remember to follow the advice of the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and wash your fruits and vegetables. According to the FDA, washing produce under running tap water can reduce and often eliminate any minute pesticide residues, if present at all, as well as dirt and bacteria.

Visit and @safeproduce to learn more about produce safety.

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New Study Estimates up to 7.8 Million Could Live Longer with Higher Produce Consumption

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producepix1By Alliance for Food and Farming

A new peer-reviewed study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology found that if we consumed diets higher in fruits and vegetables, an estimated 5.6 and 7.8 million premature deaths worldwide could be prevented.  Further the study concludes:

Fruit and vegetable intakes were associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and all-cause mortality. These results support public health recommendations to increase fruit and vegetable intake for the prevention of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and premature mortality.

This study is yet another example of the decades of nutritional research that overwhelmingly show the benefits of all genders and all age groups eating more fruits and veggies for better health and a longer life.  For children, specifically, there are also numerous studies that show the benefits of fruit and veggie consumption on cognitive health too as their young brains develop.

Ironically this study was published at the same time that the Centers for Disease Control released a new report which showed only one in 10 Americans are eating enough fruits and vegetables each day. 

While there are often cited reasons that we aren’t eating enough fruits and veggies, it is becoming quite clear that public health initiatives to increase consumption are being undermined by groups who use fear to promote eating only certain types of produce grown in certain ways.  This fear-based messaging used by these groups often disparages the more affordable and accessible produce available to most Americans and may result in low income consumers being less likely to purchase any produce organically or conventionally grown, according to perry-reviewed studies.

But, at the AFF we believe supporting consumer choice also promotes increased consumption. Whether you prefer organic, conventional or local produce or if you like to shop at warehouse stores, traditional grocery stores, farmer’s markets or via online home delivery services, these are all good choices.  Just choose what’s best for you and your family and be confident knowing that the right choice is always to eat more fruits and veggies.

And, now there is yet another new study that shows the dramatic impact fruits and vegetables can have on health and longevity.  Millions can live longer, healthier lives simply by eating more apples or spinach or strawberries or pears or broccoli.  Listen to the science,  it supports your choice whenever you eat a fruit or veggie.

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New Center for Disease Control Reports Only 1 in 10 Eat Enough Produce

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ProduceAislesby Alliance for Food and Farming

According to a new study issued by the Centers for Disease Control, consumption of fruits and vegetables continues to be stagnant with only one in 10 Americans eating enough on a daily basis.  You may not have heard about the CDC announcement because this is yet another government report that surprisingly received little media coverage.

The CDC report, which broke out groups of Americans by state, income, race and gender, found some subgroups were even less likely to eat enough produce.  Men, young adults and people living in poverty all had especially low rates of fruit and vegetable intake.

“The study confirms years of data demonstrating that Americans do not eat their veggies,”  said Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition and food studies at New York University, in The Guardian. Assuming this result is close to reality, it suggests the need for taking much stronger action to make it easier and cheaper to eat fruits and vegetables.

The very fact that the CDC examines fruit and veggie consumption itself should be an indicator of its vital importance to our health.  But here are some facts to remind everyone why produce is the only food group health experts agree we should eat more of every day for better health and a longer life.

  • 20,000 cancer cases could be prevented each year if only half of all Americans increased their consumption of a fruit or veggie by a single serving every day.
  • Consuming a plant rich diet can lower your risk of premature death by 42%, heart disease by 31% and cancer by 25%.
  • Research shows the benefit of increased consumption on fetal health. One study showed that pregnant women who eat a diet rich in fruits, veggies, nuts, legumes, whole grains and fish can reduce the risk of heart defects in their baby, sometimes by as much as 37%.
  • Numerous studies illustrate the benefits of fruits and veggies on cognitive development.  One recent study found that children who ate more fruits and veggies scored much higher in multiple areas on standardized academic tests.

Unfortunately, as two peer reviewed studies are showing, misinformation carried by activist groups about the safety of the more affordable (cheaper) and accessible (easier) fruits and veggies may be contributing to this trend of stagnating consumption.  In one of the studies, researchers found misleading messaging which inaccurately describes certain fruits and vegetables as having  pesticide residues results in low income shoppers reporting that they would be less likely to purchase any fruits and vegetables, organic or conventional.

In light of the CDC consumption statistics and peer reviewed research showing the potential effect of fear-based messaging, isn’t it time for activist groups to change their strategy from one of disparagement to encouragement? Just think what activists could do if they spent their time and considerable resources, including using their celebrity spokespersons, to encourage consumption instead of disparaging produce that has been proven safe but is also the most affordable and accessible to the majority of Americans.  What a benefit that could be to public health.

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Eating More Fruits, Vegetables Boosts Psychological Well-Being In Just 2 Weeks

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USDAby Honor Whiteman, Medical News Today

Fruits and vegetables are a pivotal part of a healthful diet, but their benefits are not limited to physical health. New research finds that increasing fruit and vegetable consumption may improve psychological well-being in as little as 2 weeks.

Study leader Dr. Tamlin Conner, of the Department of Psychology at the University of Otago in New Zealand, and colleagues found that young adults who were given extra fruits and vegetables each day for 14 days ate more of the produce and experienced a boost in motivation and vitality.

The researchers recently reported their findings in the journal PLOS One.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, adults should aim to consume around two cups of fruits and around two to three cups of vegetables daily.

One cup of fruits is the equivalent to half a grapefruit or a large orange, and one cup of vegetables is proportionate to one large red pepper or a large, baked sweet potato.

As part of a healthful diet, fruits and vegetables can help reduce the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some types of cancer.

In recent years, studies have suggested that fruit and vegetable intake may also improve mental health. For their study, Dr. Conner and team set out to investigate this association further.

The researchers enrolled 171 students aged between 18 and 25 to their study, and they were divided into three groups for 2 weeks.

One group continued with their normal eating pattern, one group was personally handed two additional servings of fresh fruits and vegetables (including carrots, kiwi fruit, apples, and oranges) each day, while the remaining group was given prepaid produce vouchers and received text reminders to consume more fruits and vegetables.

At the beginning and end of the study, participants were subjected to psychological assessments that evaluated mood, vitality, motivation, symptoms of depression and anxiety, and other determinants of mental health and well-being.

The researchers found that participants who personally received extra fruits and vegetables consumed the most of these products over the 2 weeks, at 3.7 servings daily, and it was this group that experienced improvements in psychological well-being. In particular, these participants demonstrated improvements in vitality, motivation, and flourishing.

The other two groups showed no improvements in psychological well-being over the 2-week period.



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$3 a Day for Produce Can Meet Dietary Guidelines

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DSCN5310Consumers can meet the recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines for Americas for less than $3 per day, according to a new report.
The report, The Cost of Satisfying Fruit and Vegetable Recommendations in the Dietary Guidelines,  the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service updated previous estimates of the costs required to meet federal fruit and vegetable recommendations.
“Our analysis shows that individuals on a 2,000-calorie reference diet can purchase a variety of fruits and vegetables satisfying the 2015-20 Dietary Guidelines for Americans for $2.10 to $2.60 per day,” according to the report. This would purchase a pound and an edible cup-equivalent of 156 commonly consumed fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, according to the USDA. The dietary guidelines recommend consumers on a 2,000 calorie diet consume 2 cup-equivalents of fruit and 2.5 cup equivalents of vegetables each day.
Using retail scanner data from 2013, the USDA estimated average prices for 24 fresh fruits and 40 fresh vegetables, and 92 processed fruits and vegetables.
Retail costs of fruits and vegetables vary over time. However, the authors point out the Consumer Price Index shows that fruit and vegetable prices increased by just 4% between 2008 and 2013.  This was less than the 8.2% increase for all consumer goods and services in that period. This suggests the relative cost of fruits and vegetables has decreased for consumers.
The USDA said nine of 63 fruits (14%) cost less than 40 cents per cup-equivalent. Watermelon (21 cents), frozen concentrated apple juice (27 cents), and bananas (29 cents) were the least expensive. Twenty-six fruits (41%) cost between 40 and 80 cents per cup-equivalent, according to the USDA. These include apples, 42 cents, oranges, 58 cents, and grapes, 72 cents. Twenty-seven fruits cost more than 80 cents per cup-equivalent, the USDA said, with fresh raspberries ($2.32) and canned cherries ($2.39) at the top of the price range,
Likewise, the USDA said that 16 of 96 vegetables (17%) cost less than 40 cents per cup-equivalent. Potatoes (18 cents), dried pinto beans (19 cents), and dried lentils (20 cents) were least expensive. 58 vegetables (60%) cost between 40 and 80 cents per cup-equivalent, including onions (41 cents), canned tomatoes (50 cents), and broccoli (72 cents), according to the release.  22 vegetables cost more than 80 cents per cup-equivalent, with frozen artichokes $2.55 and fresh asparagus $2.58 are at the high price range.

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Gallup: Americans Claim They Actively Try To Eat Produce

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DSCN4673by Rebecca Riffkin, Gallup

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Americans are more likely to say they actively try to avoid including soda or pop in their diet than 14 other foods, including sugar and fat. At least six in 10 U.S. adults say they are trying to steer clear of these drinks — regardless of whether they are diet or regular.

Americans are most likely to say they actively try to include fruits and vegetables in their diet. Gallup asked 1,009 Americans about the foods they try to include or avoid in their diet as part of its annual Consumption Habits poll in July. Previous Gallup reports have focused on Americans’ avoidance or inclusion of gluten-free foods and salt or fat.

Americans appear to be aware of the health benefits of fruits and vegetables, with at least nine in 10 saying they actively try to include each in their diet. At least three in four Americans also say they try to include chicken and fish in their diet, meats that nutrition experts often recommend to help with heart health, in lieu of beef and other red meat — which nevertheless, 63% of Americans still actively try to include in their diet.

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Kansas Legislation Would Kill Sales Tax on Fresh Produce

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DSCN5116Kansas Democrats and Republicans has agreed upon bipartisan legislation, which was recently been filed in hopes of making fresh food more affordable in the state.

Republican Senator Michael O’Donnell, and Democratic Senator Oletha Faust-Goudeau, both of Wichita, filed Senate Bill 263.  The measure would eliminate the state tax on fruits and vegetables.  The purpose is to encourage Kansans to eat healthier, plus it would support local farmers, as well small business owners who lose business across state lines.

Senator O’Donnell believes killing the sales tax on fresh fruits and vegetables would improve the health of everyone.  Research indicates a link between obesity and higher fruit and vegetable prices.  The higher prices make it more challenging for many families to eat healthy.

At 6.15 percent, Kanas’ sales tax is second highest in the nation behind Mississippi.   In addition to that, county and city governments can levy their own taxes, bringing the total as high as 9 percent in some areas.

Kansas has over 2.9 million residents and ranks 31st in population among the states.  It ranks 15th in geographic  size.

The most populous city in Kansas is Wichita (population 382,000), followed by Overland Park (174,000) and Kansas City (127,000) and Topeka (127,000).

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Study Claims 5 Servings a Day of Produce Extends Life

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IMG_6030By The Alliance for Food and Farming

A new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that consumption of five servings of fruits and vegetables a day leads to a longer life.  The comprehensive research, conducted in Sweden, studied more than 71,000 people aged 45 to 83 for 13 years.  Among the key findings, eating fewer than five servings of fruits and vegetables each day is linked with a higher chance of dying early. Participants who ate at least one serving of fruit daily lived 19 months longer than those who never ate fruit, on average. And those who ate at least three servings of vegetables per day lived 32 months longer than people who reported not eating vegetables.

This Swedish study can be added to the decades of nutritional research that show the benefits of eating fruits and veggies on improved health.  Another important example is the recent peer reviewed study published in the Journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology which found that if half of Americans increased their consumption of fruits and vegetables by a single serving, 20,000 cancer cases could be prevented.  (It should be noted that most of these nutritional studies were conducted using conventionally grown produce.) 

This type of science based evidence is why the Alliance for Food and Farming joins with public health experts, the government, and environmental groups in encouraging consumption of all fruits and vegetables – organic and conventional.  Experts agree that both are grown safety and can be eaten with confidence.

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USA Restaurants are Serving Healthier Meals

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Consumers in general are eating more healthy foods, including fresh fruits and vegetable. This is a factor in the USA  restaurant industry looking forward to a good year in 2013.

Restaurant industry sales are predicted to topexceed $660 billion in 2013.  This would be a 3.8 percent increase from 2012, says the annual Restaurant Industry Forecast from the Washington, D.C.-based National Restaurant Association.

This would mark the fourth consecutive year of industry sales increases.

The study sees Americans eating more healthfully when they eat out in 2013.

Over 70 percent of people polled claim they are attempting to eat better at restaurants compared to two years ago.  About three-quarters of consumers state healthful menu options are an important factor when choosing a restaurant.

Restaurants are making changes to meet the demand for more healthy meals.  Around 86 percent of those polled stated eating establishment are offering a wider variety now than two years ago.

2013 is expected to be the 14th straight year in which restaurant industry employment outpaces overall USA employment, the forecast reads.

Restaurants are forecast to employ 13.1 million people in 2013, making the industry the nation’s second-largest private-sector employer.

In 2012, restaurants added jobs at a rate of three percent more than double the overall USA employment rate of 1.4 percent. In 2013, restaurants expected to add jobs at a 2.4 percent rate, .9 percent more than the expected overall rate.

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