Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Eat a Lot of Fruits and Vegetables

How many fruits and vegetables do I eat?  It is a lot. No one really knows exactly how the nutrition of our body works, especially on the micro-nutrient level, and eating a lot of fruits and vegetables is one way to ensure getting a variety of nutrients. Also, fruits and vegetables are low in calories and can fill one up. In my case, eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables also seems to reduce gastrointestinal pain.

In my head, I think that I try to eat around the equivalent of nine cups of raw fruits and vegetables each day. (In general, fruits and vegetables cook down so that one half cup of cooked equals one cup of raw. There are some exceptions such as vegetables that are only lightly stir-fried. One quarter cup of dried, again in general, equals one cups of raw.) In my head, I also think that the reality is probably closer to an average of eight, but I am curious so I think I will look at the weight in diet power, do some conversion and see what the reality is.

Here is what I have for yesterday -

.6 cups raspberry/strawberry/blackberry mix (unsweetened from frozen)
1.4 cups mushrooms (actual cooked .7 cups from canned)
.8 cups raisins (actual dried fruit .2 cups)
.8 cups red peppers, raw
2.6 cups spinach/field green mix, raw
.1 cup prunes (actual dried fruit .032 cups but estimated down)
1 cup spaghetti sauce (actual cooked sauce .6 cups but included some oil)
1.5 cups red peppers/carrots/onions/garlic (actual cooked vegetables in fish chowder about .75 cups)

That makes 8.8 cups. I can't say that is a typical day because I do try to eat a wide variety of foods, to mix it up. I am not always successful, but I would hope my eating patterns aren't too predictable.

Why nine cups?  Well, in the somewhat infamous Harvard Nurses Health Study, the largest study of its type (there were nearly 110,000 subjects), it was found that eating eight or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day correlated with a 30 percent drop in the chances of getting cardiovascular disease, or suffering a heart attack or stroke. This is definitely a statistically significant number. A similar result has been found in several other large studies in Europe. One study in particular looked at the risk of stroke and the risk of heart disease as separate entities. It found that those eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day had a 20 percent decrease in the chance of having a stroke, and a 20 percent decrease in the risk of having a heart attack.

Terry Wahls purports that her M.S. is controlled by a high fruit and vegetable diet, in her case nine serving a day. She claims that this type of diet may help control all autoimmune diseases. She is doing testing and trials and so far I have not seen results out there of any research, but I am hoping that some will be forthcoming. Unfortunately, I know it can be difficult to get research subjects to sustain a change in diet for any length of time.

So, I choose to err on the high side, and without actually keeping track (because I have too many other things to track), I aim loosely in my mind for nine cups and usually I think I come close.

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