‘Tis the season… planting season that is! As the weather improves, many of us are out in the garden making edible art using soil and seeds. From peppers and broccoli to strawberries and raspberries, we all hope for a fruitful yield that paints both our yards and plates with a multitude of colours. But be it through following a plant-based diet that emphasizes the intake of plant foods above animal products or simply incorporating more fruits and vegetables into our regular diet, just what are the benefits of consuming more fruits and vegetables? There are a variety, ranging from weight management to bone health (1-3).
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Two vegetarian diets are the lacto-ovo vegetarian diet, which permits the consumption of dairy products and eggs but not meat, fish, or poultry, and the vegan diet, which does not permit the consumption of any animal products. Research shows that compared to a non-vegetarian diet, following a lacto-ovo vegetarian or vegan diet can help with short-term (at least 12 months) weight loss. Vegan diets also appear to be more effective than lacto-ovo vegetarian diets. Lastly, vegetarian diets combined with an effort to reduce calorie consumption are more effective than following a vegetarian diet on its own. More long-term research is needed (1).
Plant-based diets such as the Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH), lacto-ovo vegetarian, healthy Nordic, and Mediterranean diets may lead to reductions in diastolic and/or systolic blood pressure in adults. Whether one or more aspect of blood pressure improves varies across diet type. In general, these specific diets encourage the intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and some animal products (2).
3. Reduce risk of hip fractures
In older adults, hip fractures are a source of significant illness, reduced quality of life, and increased mortality (4-7). Research shows that upping the consumption of fruits and vegetables can decrease the likelihood of experiencing a hip fracture in adults aged 50 and over. More high-quality research is needed to further support these results (3).
Speak with your healthcare team about how to best ensure that you are getting enough fruits and vegetables in your diet. Additionally, Canada’s food guide provides information on choosing and preparing healthy vegetables and fruits, snack ideas, and tips on how to eat more fruits and veggies.