It took years for nearly 500 researchers from more than 300 institutions in 50 countries to develop the 2010 Global Burden of Disease Study, the largest analysis of risk factors for death and disease in history. In the United States, the massive study determined that the leading cause of both death and disability was the American diet, followed by smoking. What did they find to be the worst aspect about our diet? Not eating enough fruit.
I recommend one daily serving of berries (half cup fresh or frozen berries, or a quarter cup dried) and three daily servings of other fruit (a medium-sized fruit, a cup cut-up fruit, or a quarter cup dried). Why do I single out berries?
Berries are the healthiest fruits in part due to their plant pigments. They evolved to have bright, contrasting colors to attract fruit-eating critters to help disperse their seeds, and the same molecular characteristics that give berries such vibrant colors may account for some of their antioxidant abilities. Berries are second only to herbs and spices as the most antioxidant-packed food category. As a group, they average nearly 10 times more antioxidants than other fruits and vegetables (and exceed 50 times more than animal-based foods). Berries offer potential protection against cancer, a boost to the immune system, and a guard for the liver and brain. An American Cancer Society study of nearly 100,000 men and women found that those who ate the most berries appeared significantly less likely to die of cardiovascular disease.
Indeed, adhering to just four simple healthy lifestyle factors may have a strong impact on chronic disease prevention: not smoking, not being obese, getting a half hour of daily exercise, and eating healthier—defined as consuming more fruits, veggies, and whole grains and less meat. These four factors alone were found to account for 78 percent of chronic disease risk. If we manage to tick off all four, we may be able to wipe out more than 90 percent of our risk of developing diabetes, more than 80 percent of our risk of having a heart attack, cut by half our risk of having a stroke, and reduce our overall cancer risk by more than one-third. For some cancers, like our number-two cancer killer, colon cancer, up to 71 percent of cases appear to be preventable through a similar portfolio of simple diet and lifestyle changes.
Image Credit: Natalia Klenova © 123RF.com. This image has been modified.
Popular Videos for Fruit
All Videos for Fruit
Chronobiology – How Circadian Rhythms Can Control Your Health & Weight
Given the power of chronotherapy—how the same dose of the same drugs taken at a different time of day can have such different effects—it’s no surprise that chronoprevention approaches, like meal timing, can also make a difference.
Are Pre-Cut Vegetables Just as Healthy?
Endotoxins can build up on pre-chopped vegetables and undermine some of their benefits.
Trailer for How Not to Diet: Dr. Greger’s Guide to Weight Loss
17 ingredients to an ideal weight-loss diet and the 21 tweaks to accelerate the further loss of excess body fat.
Evidence-Based Weight Loss – Live Presentation
In his newest live presentation, Dr. Greger offers a sneak peek into his new book How Not to Diet.
For Flavonoid Benefits, Don’t Peel Apples
Peeled apples are pitted head-to-head against unpeeled apples and spinach in a test of artery function.
Highlights from the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Hearing
I was honored to testify before the US government’s Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. Check out the video to see my speech and a few of my favorite excerpts.
Is Keto an Effective Cancer-Fighting Diet?
The clinical use of ketogenic diets for epilepsy and cancer: what does the science say?
How Many Calories Do You Burn Chewing Gum?
What are the effects of gum chewing on hunger and appetite?
How to Stop Tooth Decay
If sugar consumption is considered the one and only cause of cavities, how much is too much?
The Best Diet for Colon Cancer Prevention
What would happen within just two weeks if you swapped the diets of Americans with that of healthier eaters?
Oxalates in Spinach and Kidney Stones: Should We Be Concerned?
Even though dietary oxalates may have a limited effect on kidney stone risk in most people, there are some predisposing factors that can put anyone at risk.
The Orthorexia Nervosa Test
See how you score on the orthorexia “diagnostic” test.