New Castle News


April 2, 2014

Our Opinion: Major study finds food link to lower death rate

NEW CASTLE — If there ever was a compelling case that people should eat more fruits and vegetables, this is it.

A study in Great Britain examined the eating habits of 65,000 people and came away with some startling results. It was determined eating seven or more servings of fruits and vegetables every day coincided with a reduction in death rates by 42 percent over a given time frame.

According to the report published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, the impact of eating fresh produce was detected among participants in all age groups. And the findings basically showed that the more fruits and vegetables a person included in his or her diet, the lower the risk of death.

However, the link was stronger for vegetables than it was for fruit. And when it came to canned or processed fruit — with sugar added — the consumption of servings was linked to a higher death rate.

That seems to coincide with current medical wisdom that claims eating too much sugar contributes to health risks.

The findings of this study were indeed dramatic, but the results came with a few notes of caution. For one thing, this was not a controlled experiment of 65,000 people. Instead, researchers relied on the reports of food consumption given to them by participants.

And — from a scientific standpoint — the findings don’t necessarily prove it was the fruits and vegetables that lowered death risk. Instead, it’s possible that people who ate lots of produce were consuming less of other foods that posed health hazards.

Plus, there is also the possibility that from a statistical standpoint, people who eat lots of fruits and vegetables generally have a healthier lifestyle in a variety of ways that were not measured.

Still, the powerful link between fruit and vegetable consumption and a lower death rate revealed in this study is simply too big to ignore, or chalk up to a statistical fluke. Future studies may flesh out some of the details and eliminate other variables. But this report strongly confirms the benefits of a diet laden with fresh produce.

When it comes to diet and health, the information the public receives from researchers is often a muddled — and even contradictory — mess. We suspect that much of this is attributable to the variables that go into determining human health, such as diet, exercise, smoking, drinking, genetics, etc.

In this instance, the results seem to offer stark clarity. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables is good for you. And the more, the better.

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