If you’d rather eat fresh fruit or a carrot than pop a pill to stay healthy, go for it. Increasing research indicates that a diet that includes fresh fruits and vegetables could be as good or better for you than drugs when it comes to controlling or eliminating some diseases and illnesses.
Here are five ways eating fresh fruits and veggies could make you healthier than medications you may be taking:
Oxford University researchers have found that eating a piece of fruit each day significantly lowers the likelihood of a heart attack. In fact, “eating even one piece of fruit each day lowered the risk of a heart attack or stroke by one third over a seven year period,” a result that’s as significant as taking a statin, but without the side effects. Many people complain of side effects from statins, including muscle pains, weakness and fatigue, reported the Telegraph. The side effects from fruit? More energy, more vitamins and minerals and more fiber in the diet.
Eating at least three servings per week of apples, blueberries or grapes lowers the risk for developing Type 2 diabetes compared to those who eat less of these fruits (Note: Fruit juice, with its high glycemic content, increases diabetes risk by as much as 21 percent). If you already have diabetes, talk to your doctor about whether increasing the amount of fruit you eat and making other dietary changes will reduce your need to take insulin. This study found that 90 percent of diabetics who changed diets to include more fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and beans were able to come off all diabetic medications.
3. Cholesterol Drugs (Statins and Others)
“Shifting to a cholesterol-lowering diet takes more attention than popping a daily statin,”reports Harvard University. If you want to lower cholesterol, reduce high blood pressure and improve digestive health eat a diet includes apples, grapes, strawberries and citrus fruits, as well as fatty fish, soybeans, vegetable oils rather than butter or lard, nuts, beans, oats and barley. If you need an example, read this inspiring story of how a woman avoided medication completely by changing her diet.
Replace over-the-counter laxatives and fiber mixes with fruits and vegetables high in fiber. Leave the skins on apples, pears, peaches and other fruits. Choose fibrous vegetables like cabbage, beans, broccoli and beets. And of course, drink lots of water.
A set of studies published in the Annals of Internal Medicine concluded that multivitamins have shown no health benefits. On the other hand, people who eat seven or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day have a 42 percent lower risk of death than those who eat less than one portion, according to a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.
“We all know that eating fruit and vegetables is healthy, but the size of the effect is staggering,” said Dr. Oyinlola Oyebode of UCL’s Department of Epidemiology & Public Health, lead author of the study. “The clear message here is that the more fruit and vegetables you eat, the less likely you are to die at any age. Vegetables have a larger effect than fruit, but fruit still makes a real difference. If you’re happy to snack on carrots or other vegetables, then that is a great choice but if you fancy something sweeter, a banana or any fruit will also do you good.”
By the way, as helpful as fruits and vegetables are, there are some foods you absolutely should not mix with certain medications. Talk with your doctor when you make dietary changes and review this list from Consumer Reports.