by | Oct 3, 2014 | 14 comments

Sometimes I feel like I’m a broken record when talking about vegetables.  Between my health coaching clients, my workshops, the blog, my networking groups, my own food intake, and yes, even in casual conversations, I’m always mentioning the power of vegetables.  Whenever I feel that I may be overdoing it, though, I end up seeing a study like the one I’m going to discuss today, and am completely reinvigorated to spread the message, and help others LIVE longer.

foodie friday the lyons share

Studies show that the average American consumes between 3 and 4 servings of fruits and vegetables per day (where a serving is 1/2 cup).  Unfortunately, that number includes starchy vegetables like potatoes, which are most often consumed as french fries.

do french fries count as a vegetable

(picture source)

A study this year showed that those who consumed seven or more servings of vegetables and fruits per day had 42% reduction in risk of death from any cause at any time vs. those who ate less than one serving per day, and the benefits increased with every additional serving.  The risk of cancer decreased by 25% and the risk of heart disease decreased by 31%.  Benefits were even better when participants consumed more vegetables than fruits.  This study was done on over 65,000 people, and controlled for sex, age, physical activity, smoking, and many other important factors.

eat your veggies

(picture source)

The Harvard School of Public Health currently recommends getting between 5 and 13 servings of vegetables and fruits per day, depending on caloric intake, and says that “Eating plenty of vegetables and fruits can help you ward off heart disease and stroke, control blood pressure, prevent some types of cancer, avoid a painful intestinal ailment called diverticulitis, and guard against cataract and macular degeneration, two common causes of vision loss.”  It’s hard to underestimate the health benefits of vegetables and fruits.

prolong life with food

Eating vegetables can prolong your life.  Plain and simple.  Your body needs the nutrients from vegetables (and fruits) to function properly, fight off disease and inflammation, and give you energy to sustain your daily activity.  If you want to live a healthy and vibrant life, you must eat your vegetables.

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Side note, after telling my Fall Reset group about this last night: I always have and always will believe that the BEST source of nutrients is through whole food.  Even my clients who never touch vegetables end up tolerating them by the end of the program.  It’s just a must.  However, for those that are trying to get in as many as possible and still falling short of the 13 recommended servings per day, I recommend a few options to “bridge the gap.”  I use all of them myself, especially on days when I’m traveling, eating out a lot, or otherwise don’t get in quite as many veggies as I know I need.  All of these products contain actual fruits and vegetables, not isolated vitamins (which are less useful to the body), and minimal other ingredients

  • Amazing Grass Greens Superfood: I buy this at Whole Foods or other grocery stores, but here’s the Amazon link.  I think it tastes pretty good, but it looks very green, tastes a bit grassy, and might not be the best solution for very picky eaters.
  • ORAC Energy Greens Powder (again, I buy in stores, but here’s the link).  This one is NOT very tasty at all, but I actually feel my energy increasing after drinking it.
  • Juice Plus+ Capsules: not a vitamin, just whole vegetables and fruits condensed into a capsule.  Best for picky eaters and has fantastic research to support the benefits – here’s one such video explaining.  The company believes so soundly in the results that they give kids the gummy supplements for free if a parent is taking the product.  You can buy it here (or contact me for the free kids’ ones).  Note that I make a small commission off of each sale.

So tell me in the comments… What’s your favorite way to get in your vegetables and fruits?  Are you as convinced as I am to eat up for a longer life??

14 Comments

    • Megan Lyons

      Would your hubby try greens powders or greens capsules, Deborah? There’s good research to show that when you get a load of nutrients into someone, then they’ll start craving more and more fruits and veggies, so even the powders / capsules are a START!

  1. Tina muir

    Yep! I hear you! It is not even my job, and I swear I spend so much of my time preaching about eating fruits and vegetables! I can only imagine how much you have to! I try to tell people that there is no secret diet to fueling my training, but just getting those foods that contain the vitamins and minerals the body needs, and fruit and veg is the best way to do it! Keep up the good work, every person you tell, is another person who will consider their body when they pick up food. Every little helps 🙂

    • Megan Lyons

      Tina, you are such a great spokesperson for health! Fueling such amazing performances as an elite athlete while just focusing on REAL nutrition is amazing! Glad we’re in this together – let’s keep spreading the word 🙂

  2. Michael Anderson

    So are you saying my occasional Diet Mountain Dew doesn’t count?!?! But it is GREEN! haha 🙂 Actually cut way back on soda this fall, probably never totally eliminate it, but had my first one all week last night.

    But it IS so important – I have always loved fruits and veggies, and Lisa started eating them after discovering in college that they didn’t have to be gross! So we have had fresh, real vegetables as a core part of our diet ever since … and our boys love them as well. One prefers fruits, the other veggies, but both eat real foods.

    Great post!

    • Megan Lyons

      Haha! No, your Diet Mountain Dew doesn’t count :). Honestly, I don’t really mind if people drink soda every once in a while … but the habit of having multiple per day every day has got to stop.

      So interesting that one boy prefers fruits and one veggies! I think I’m a fruit girl at heart, but I definitely eat more veggies than fruits.

  3. Bre & Ree

    Love, love my veggies! Thanks for sharing all the stats! You’re so right, the benefits are remarkable!
    ~Bre

  4. Linda @ the Fitty

    To get little kids to eat their vegetables, you literally have to hide them in the things they love!

    And no, potatoes are NOT a vegetable just like how veggie chips are not veggies!

    • Megan Lyons

      Those veggie chips are delicious, Linda, but you’re right, they don’t “count” as real veggies!

  5. Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table

    Love my veggies!!! I eat them at every meal, but my daily go-to is a protein shake after my workout. I always add spinach or kale. I’m amazing that people at my gym don’t believe me… but you can’t taste it at all!

    • Megan Lyons

      I’m totally with you, Laura! Some of my clients tell me they can taste the kale or it changes the texture, but I think they’re just eating with their eyes. For most people, I try to get them to add romaine (far, far fewer nutrients, but it’s just the act of putting greens into a smoothie to get them used to the idea), and then transition to spinach, and then kale!

  6. Carina

    I’m glad I just read this today. The last few days were as close to veggie-free and fruit-free as I ever get since I try to avoid fiber before a race, and man, was I craving it when I got done — we went out for monster salads afterward (balanced with donuts to ensure complete caloric replacement 😉 ). My favorite part of tapering is the sweet, sweet sleeping in, and my least favorite part of tapering is eating fewer veggies than normal. I do love carbs, but I miss veggies when I’m not eating them in massive quantities.

    • Megan Lyons

      I think that a monster salad with a donut sounds like the pretty perfect post-race balance to me! :). And also agree that my body really misses veggies when I’m not eating as many! Curious how you fared veggie-wise on the trip!

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Hi! I'm Megan Lyons,

the voice behind The Lyons’ Share. I love all things health, wellness, and fitness-related, and I hope to share some of my passion with you. Thanks for stopping by!
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