The Right “5-a-day” Mix is 2 Fruit and 3 Vegetable Servings for Longer Life

Studies representing nearly 2 million adults worldwide show that eating about five daily servings of fruits and vegetables, in which 2 are fruits and 3 are vegetables, is likely the optimal amount for a longer life, according to new research published today in the American Heart Association’s flagship journal Circulation.

Diets rich in fruits and vegetables help reduce risk for numerous chronic health conditions that are leading causes of death, including cardiovascular disease and cancer. Yet, only about one in 10 adults eat enough fruits or vegetables, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“While groups like the American Heart Association recommend four to five servings each of fruits and vegetables daily, consumers likely get inconsistent messages about what defines optimal daily intake of fruits and vegetables such as the recommended amount, and which foods to include and avoid,” said lead study author Dong D. Wang, M.D., Sc.D., an epidemiologist, nutritionist and a member of the medical faculty at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Wang and colleagues analyzed data from the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, two studies including more than 100,000 adults who were followed for up to 30 years. Both datasets included detailed dietary information repeatedly collected every two to four years. For this analysis, researchers also pooled data on fruit and vegetable intake and death from 26 studies that included about 1.9 million participants from 29 countries and territories in North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia.

Analysis of all studies, with a composite of more than 2 million participants, revealed:

  • Intake of about five servings of fruits and vegetables daily was associated with the lowest risk of death. Eating more than five servings was not associated with additional benefit.
  • Eating about two servings daily of fruits and three servings daily of vegetables was associated with the greatest longevity.
  • Compared to those who consumed two servings of fruit and vegetables per day, participants who consumed five servings a day of fruits and vegetable had a 13% lower risk of death from all causes; a 12% lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke; a 10% lower risk of death from cancer; and a 35% lower risk of death from respiratory disease, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • Not all foods that one might consider to be fruits and vegetables offered the same benefits. For example: Starchy vegetables, such as peas and corn, fruit juices and potatoes were not associated with reduced risk of death from all causes or specific chronic diseases.
  • On the other hand, green leafy vegetables, including spinach, lettuce and kale, and fruit and vegetables rich in beta carotene and vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, berries and carrots, showed benefits.

“Our analysis in the two cohorts of U.S. men and women yielded results similar to those from 26 cohorts around the world, which supports the biological plausibility of our findings and suggests these findings can be applied to broader populations,” Wang said.

Wang said this study identifies an optimal intake level of fruits and vegetables and supports the evidence-based, succinct public health message of ‘5-a-day,’ meaning people should ideally consume five servings of fruit and vegetable each day. “This amount likely offers the most benefit in terms of prevention of major chronic disease and is a relatively achievable intake for the general public,” he said. “We also found that not all fruits and vegetables offer the same degree of benefit, even though current dietary recommendations generally treat all types of fruits and vegetables, including starchy vegetables, fruit juices and potatoes, the same.”

A limitation of the research is that it is observational, showing an association between fruit and vegetable consumption and risk of death; it does not confer a direct cause-and-effect relationship.

“The American Heart Association recommends filling at least half your plate with fruits and vegetables at each meal,” said Anne Thorndike, M.D., M.P.H., chair of the American Heart Association’s nutrition committee and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston. “This research provides strong evidence for the lifelong benefits of eating fruits and vegetables and suggests a goal amount to consume daily for ideal health. Fruits and vegetables are naturally packaged sources of nutrients that can be included in most meals and snacks, and they are essential for keeping our hearts and bodies healthy.”

Source: American Heart Association

Baffled Canadians Spread Reports Of ‘Hard’ Butter

Emma Bowman wrote . . . . . . . . .

There’s something off about the butter in Canada that’s left many flustered residents looking for answers.

For weeks, Canadians have increasingly churned up debate on social media with anecdotes about “hard” butter that fails to spread as easily as it once did.

“Something is up with our butter supply, and I’m going to get to the bottom of it,” cookbook author Julie Van Rosendaal tweeted earlier this month, renewing speculation. “Have you noticed it’s no longer soft at room temperature? Watery? Rubbery?”

While some respondents blamed cold winter temperatures for the alleged change in consistency, others felt their suspicions were validated.

Some food experts are linking “buttergate” to the increased presence of a palm oil derivative — a conclusion that’s been dismissed by the dairy industry, which says it is investigating the matter.

For food researcher Sylvain Charlebois, suspicion began last year when he noticed differences in comparing an organic stick of butter with a regular one.

“Is it me or is #butter much harder now at room temperature?” Charlebois, the senior director of Dalhousie University’s Agri-Food Analytics Lab, tweeted in December.

While he says that more testing is needed, Charlebois, who dubbed the saga “buttergate,” is convinced that an increased use in palmitic acid — a byproduct of palm oil that’s commonly added to cow feed — is the most likely culprit.

Van Rosendaal also has pointed the finger at palm oil, writing in a piece last week for The Globe and Mail that “though it’s perfectly legal for dairy farmers to use palm fat in livestock feed, whether they should be is a contentious issue.”

Charlebois surmised that a mystery acid could be at work in October, when the British Columbia Milk Marketing Board posted a memo about issues with non-foaming milk in which it mentioned a link between fatty acids and non-foaming milk.

“That’s when alarm bells started to ring,” Charlebois tells NPR. After calling “trusted” processors in the dairy sector, he says he was led to believe that a shift had happened at the farm level, before the processing stage.

He now connects a sudden spike in consumer butter demand to what he says is an increased use of the palm oil fat on farms since this past summer. Palm-based cow food isn’t new, Charlebois says — “It’s been used for more than a decade.” Farmers regularly add the palmitic acid to animal feed as an energy supplement that allows cows to produce more butter fat content, he says.

But between production slowdown measures and a boom in home cooking, the pandemic put new pressure on dairy farmers. Butter sales in fact grew over 12% in 2020 compared with the previous year, according to the Dairy Farmers of Canada.

To keep up with the recent surge in butter demand, Charlebois says farmers have been boosting the amount of palm oil-based feed in cows’ diets to step up supply.

“Palmatic acids are actually quite expensive, but they’re cheaper than getting new cows in a barn for sure,” he says.

While little research has been done on the health consequences of palm oil-based dairy, he says the main issue is the industry’s lack of transparency.

“Whether or not the butter is healthy … we just don’t know,” he says. “There’s a complete disconnect between animal feed practices and how these food products impact the health of consumers.”

This month, the Dairy Farmers of Canada addressed the recent reports of hard butter in a statement, saying that it’s unaware of any significant changes in dairy production or processing but that “our sector is working with experts to further assess these reports.” Acknowledging the use of palm products, the group asserted that such ingredients “help provide energy to cows and no undesirable effects have been identified.” NPR’s multiple attempts to contact DFC went unanswered.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency regulations stipulate that butter products must contain at least 80% milk fat. While adding palm oil to butter is legal, Charlebois says the question now is, “Should it be legal?”

“A Buttergate is not what the industry needs, or what Canadians deserve,” the food researcher wrote in an op-ed published on Tuesday. He argued that the “concerning” environmental and social impacts associated with palm oil production abroad, does not help an industry that’s particularly wary about its public image.

On Wednesday, a group representing some of Canada’s major dairy producers yielded to mounting consumer pressure by calling for a ban on palm-based dairy products.

Citing environmental concerns related to palm oil production, Les Producteurs de lait du Québec is “asking milk producers to stop using products containing palm oil or its derivatives in the feed of their dairy cattle,” read a statement translated from French. “We also ask food manufacturers to adjust their recipes accordingly and food advisors to support our producers with required dietary changes.”

The organization also said it would follow the recommendations resulting from DFC’s working committee and “will adjust accordingly.”

It’s unclear whether the ban would be permanent.

Source: npr

Which Blood Pressure Number Matters Most Might Depend on Your Age

Thor Christensen wrote . . . . . . . . .

Systolic blood pressure is the best way to predict future cardiovascular events and death, irrespective of age, according to new research. But in younger people, diastolic blood pressure could still be important.

Systolic pressure – the upper number in a blood pressure reading – measures how hard the heart pumps blood into arteries. Diastolic – the bottom number – indicates the pressure on the arteries when the heart rests between beats.

In recent years, many medical experts shifted their focus to systolic readings when trying to determine the risk of heart problems, but questions lingered about how important diastolic readings really were, said Dr. Michael Hecht Olsen, lead author of a new study published Monday in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension.

To find out more, researchers looked at 26 years of data from 107,599 adults ages 19-97. Participants didn’t start out with cardiovascular disease, but some eventually reached a “cardiovascular endpoint,” which the study defined as stroke, heart attack or death from heart disease.

The study found that for people under 50, diastolic blood pressure readings “provided additional prognostic predictive information,” Olsen said. But the study showed systolic readings were still “a strong predictor of cardiovascular risk independent of age, sex and other cardiovascular risk factors.”

“Our results underline the importance of measuring not only the systolic but also the diastolic blood pressure, especially in individuals younger than 50,” said Olsen, a hypertension and cardiovascular prevention professor in the department of regional health research at the University of Southern Denmark.

The study also found that mean arterial pressure was a good measure of cardiovascular risk and death at any age. Also called MAP, it is the average pressure in a person’s arteries during one cardiac cycle, and it is calculated using both diastolic and systolic blood pressure.

Dr. Deepak L. Bhatt, who was not involved in the research, called it a “well-done study that adds to prior work supporting that diastolic blood pressure is important.”

“The implications of this study are that both patients and physicians need to pay attention not only to the systolic blood pressure but also to the diastolic blood pressure,” said Bhatt, executive director of Interventional Cardiovascular Services at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston.

“Hypertension remains an extremely common cause of cardiovascular complications such as stroke, heart attack and kidney failure. Further research remains critically important in how best to identify, classify and treat high blood pressure,” he said.

According to AHA statistics, nearly half of adults in the United States have high blood pressure, which is defined as systolic blood pressure of 130 mmHg or above or a diastolic blood pressure of 80 mmHg or above. But it’s not just an older person’s disease. High blood pressure is common among younger adults, affecting more than 1 in 5 people ages 18 to 39, based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The study’s finding that diastolic blood pressure may be particularly important in younger people is noteworthy,” Bhatt said.

High blood pressure often is called a “silent killer” because it quietly damages blood vessels and can lead to serious health problems. While there are medications available to treat the condition, experts say people of all ages can help avoid high blood pressure by eating a well-balanced diet that’s low in sodium, limiting alcohol, avoiding tobacco use, engaging in regular physical activity, managing stress and maintaining a healthy weight.

Source: HealthDay

Vietnamese-style Beef Curry


17 oz lean beef, diced
8 cloves garlic, minced
8 stalks lemongrass, minced
2 shallots, minced
2 tbsp Asian beef stock powder with curry
4 tbsp five-spice powder
4 tsp nuoc mam (fish sauce)
2 tsp pepper
3 tbsp vegetable oil
17 oz taro, peeled and diced
17 oz potato, peeled and diced
17 oz carrot, diced
4 cups beef stock
1 tbsp sugar
4 baguettes


  1. Marinate beef for 15 minutes in mixture of garlic, lemongrass, shallot, Asian beef stock, five-spice powder, fish sauce and pepper.
  2. Pan fry taro, potato and carrot in oil until cooked. Remove from pan.
  3. Add more oil to pan and bring to high heat. Sauté beef for about three minutes, then add beef stock and sugar. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer until beef is tender.
  4. Add cooked vegetables. Serve with baguette for dipping.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Street Cookbook

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