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Fruits and Veggies Shown to Increase Longevity BUT Can You Afford Them?

Posted by Joan Salge Blake  July 17, 2013 10:33 AM

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Photo Source: USDA
 Want to live longer?  Eating 5 servings of fruits and veggie daily may be your ticket to longevity.

According to a recent study of over 70,000 adults, those who ate less than 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily were shown to have a 53 percent higher risk of dying compared to those who consumed 5 servings a day.   These findings persisted even after factoring in gender, smoking status, body weight, and educational level.   Past research has also suggested that a minimum of 5 servings ( 4 ½ cups) of produce daily can help you fight heart disease, certain cancers, and an expanding waist.

But an urban myth surrounding fruits and veggies is that their hefty price makes them a budget buster at the supermarket.  The latest study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) busts this folklore as fruits and vegetables were found to be less expensive per serving than most protein foods (meat, poultry), as well as less healthy foods that are high in saturated fat and added sugars such as ice cream and soft drinks.  Another USDA study found that the cost of 153 commonly consumed fresh and processed fruits and vegetables ranged from less than $0.20 to about $2 per cup consumed.  Most fresh vegetables and fruits were less than $0.75 per cup.

I did some comparison shopping at a local Shaw's supermarket and confirmed that many higher calorie, saturated fat, and sugary foods were more expensive per serving than many fresh fruits and veggies.  Here is what I found:

Granted if you are buying winter squash in the summer and fresh cantaloupe in the winter, you are going to pay a premium price for out-of-season produce.    But if your fruit and veggies choices are in tune with the season, they don’t have to drain your wallet.  Buying in-season, on sale, and at local farmers’ markets can help you economically and healthfully consume adequate amounts of fruits and veggies daily, which may help you live longer. 

Click here for a list of seasonal produce and farmers’ markets in your area.

                                          Follow Joan on Twitter at:  joansalgeblake
Originally published on the blog Nutrition and You!.
This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Joan Salge Blake, MS, RD, LDN, is a clinical associate professor and registered dietitian at Boston University in the Nutrition Program. Joan is the author of Nutrition &You, 2nd Edition, More »

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