Another Reason to Eat Your Veggies

Studies that indicate fruit and vegetable consumption is related to reduced risk of arthritis, heart disease, cancer, and age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 50. Now a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicates that fruits and vegetables also play a role in preventing osteoporosis. Roughly 28 million Americans - 20% of whom are men - are affected by osteoporosis, a leading cause of bone fractures.

Study authors evaluated participants from the Framington Heart Study. Results indicate that lifelong dietary intakes of potassium, magnesium, and fruits and vegetables are determinants of bone mineral density in elderly men and women. Normal digestion increases acidity, which leaches minerals from the bone to neutralize the acid. Fruits and vegetables act as a buffer, creating a more alkaline environment that neutralizes the acid without depending on the bone minerals. According to researchers it is also possible that potassium and magnesium have direct effects on bone cells.

People who consume a lot of highly processed foods often lack adequate amounts of magnesium and potassium. Good sources of potassium include bananas, oranges, tomatoes, potatoes, broccoli, and melons. Magnesium is found in a variety of whole foods, including fruits and vegetables, milk, fish, and whole grains.

The USDA food guide pyramid recommends two to four daily servings of fruit and three to five daily servings of vegetables. This isn't as daunting as it sounds. One vegetable serving is ½ cup raw or cooked vegetables; 1 cup raw, leafy greens; 7 or 8 baby carrots; one ear of corn; or one medium baked potato. A serving of fruit is 3 ounces, about half of a large apple or banana. A six-ounce glass of 100% fruit or vegetable juice also counts as one serving.

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