Remember that proverb, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”? Well, I would tend to agree that eating more plant-based foods would help us to be healthier. The funny thing is that science seems to say the same thing. I hear people getting caught up in words like sugar, carbs, pesticides, organic, and GMO. However, obesity is still a big problem and heart disease remains the number one cause of death, both of which are not caused by consuming too many fruits and vegetables.
GUEST POST Dr. Felicia D. Stoler, DCN, MS, RDN, FACSM, FAND
Why do Americans eat so few fruits and veggies? Misinformation… in the media, from our friends and sometimes from doctors. I’ve heard people say fruits are fattening… can you imagine? They have too many carbs…! Hello! Our bodies need carbohydrates to survive and if we don’t eat them, we’ll break down protein in our body to make it!
Another reason, we have demonized the word sugar. Plain and simple. Fruit has sugar… indeed it does – it is naturally occurring because the fruit and the vegetables we eat are parts of plants. So they contain carbohydrates which are made up of many saccharide molecules that are known as sugar. Fruits and vegetables also contain fiber, water, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Phythonutrients are the plant pigments that have wonderful health benefits – so eat the edible skin!
Do we need to eat organic produce in order to be healthy?
My answer is no. Eating produce does promote health… but organic produce does not ensure any higher levels of vitamins, minerals or phytonutrients. For the record, organic produce most likely was grown with organic pesticides, herbicides and fungicides… just sayin’. Eating produce is healthy – period!
You really want to know my thoughts on GMOs (aka genetically modified organisms)… I say, eat them.
Why? Because there is no research showing they cause harm to humans, the animals or the environment. In 2016, the National Academy of Science published a consensus statement after reviewing hundreds of articles. Those who started the fear mongering about GMOs have since retracted their statements AND are now advocates for the science of food production. Science is an essential part of our lives. Natural evolution, along with humans, have been tinkering with selective breeding of plants. In the big picture we will not have enough food to feed all the humans on this planet by the year 2050 with our current resources. That is not very far away. Scientists are working hard to find ways to produce food in a manner that is good for the environment, good for our bodies and affordable.
I always think of fruit being nature’s candy. Other mammals eat fruit. For some, access and convenience have been a challenge… but it seems as though that barrier has been diminished. Consuming produce IS affordable. As a mom and a registered dietitian, I made sure that produce was always a part of my children’s diets. Constipation is a problem for many children and one great thing about produce is the fiber! You need to consume the whole fruit – not just the juice. Even fast food restaurants have fresh fruit as an option on kids’ menus. In the home, the key to consumption is having it washed, cut and within eye level for kids – and even adults.
Despite all the talk about eating fruits and veggies, most of us need to make a conscious effort to increase our daily intake. It doesn’t matter if the produce comes straight from your garden, grocery store or restaurant; if it’s organic, frozen, canned or genetically engineered. The healthy choice can be the easy choice! Let go of the abundance of misinformation… eat food closer to the “earth”!
About Dr. Felicia Stoler
Dr. Felicia Stoler is a registered dietitian, exercise physiologist and expert consultant in disease prevention, wellness and healthful living. She has a bachelors from Tulane University, a masters in applied physiology and nutrition from Columbia University and doctorate in clinical nutrition from Rutgers University. Felicia serves on many local, state and national committees related to health and wellness. Felicia is Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine, a Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a Diplomate in Lifestyle Medicine (ACBM/ACLM); and a Council member of the True Health Initiative. This post was sponsored by Arctic® Apples.