Health Beat with Dr. Alicia Arnold: "Fruits and Veggies - More Matters"

This month is "Fruits and Veggies - More Matters" month. On Monday morning, Dr. Alicia Arnold joined us to share the latest information on the benefits of different fruits and vegetables.

Meghan Kulig: Let's start with reducing the risk of diabetes.

Dr. Arnold: A recent study in the British Medical Journal focused on the link between certain fruits and the risk of type 2 diabetes. The evidence showed that eating more whole fruit, particularly blueberries, grapes, and apples was associated with a reduced risk of acquiring type 2 diabetes. The study also showed that consumption of fruit juice had the opposite effect and was associated with increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Replacing three servings per week of fruit juice with individual whole fruits reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes by 7%.

Meghan Kulig: How about arthritis?

Dr. Arnold: A recent study published in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatism found that broccoli contains a substance that may help slow or prevent osteoarthritis. It appears to slow the damage of cartilage seen in osteoarthritis.

Meghan Kulig: What are the recommendations for how much fruit and vegetables we should be eating?

Dr. Arnold: Some of us probably remember the food pyramid we learned in school years ago about how much to eat of different foods. It's been changed to the concept of "My Plate" which basically reminds you to try to fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables. It is designed to be a simple benchmark for people to shoot for when planning their meals.

Meghan Kulig: What about for people on a budget?

Dr. Arnold: A good way to save money and increase your intake of vegetables is to substitute half of the meat in a recipe with beans or vegetables. I do this when I make tacos for dinner at home. I substitute low sodium black beans for half of the meat. It saves money and also adds fiber to the meal. If you are grilling, you can try adding more vegetables to the kabobs and use less meat.

Meghan Kulig: We know that many kids aren't getting enough fruits and vegetables, but how bad is the problem?

Dr. Arnold: A study from Ohio State University showed that in children ages 2-5 only 50 percent were meeting fruit intake recommendations and only 22 percent met vegetable intake recommendations. The problem worsened as kids became older. In children ages 12-18 only 20 percent met the fruit intake recommendations and 11 percent met the vegetable intake recommendations. Some ideas to try to add in fruits and veggies include adding pureed fruits and vegetables to baked goods, cutting them up and packaging them in individual servings so they are easy for kids to grab, and involving kids in choosing and preparing the vegetables themselves.

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