Still eat your fruits and veggies

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Recently there were lots of news stories rising from on a review in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute that said eating fruits and vegetables has a minimal effect on preventing cancer. USA Today headlined "Eating veggies doesn't stop cancer," and CNN said "Fruits and vegetables are no miracles in cancer prevention."The American Cancer Society countered with this statement: "The results from this large, multi-country European study support the American Cancer Society Nutrition Guidelines in that participants who ate the most vegetables and fruit had up to a ten percent lower risk of being diagnosed with any cancer than those who ate the least. The results were consistent across countries, and cancer risk was lower in never and former smokers, as well as in those who smoked," said ACS vice president emeritus Michael J. Thun, MD. "The American Cancer Society recommends a diet that includes a variety of healthful foods with an emphasis on plant sources such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains."Studies can be confusing, and I'm glad the ACS gave us its take on this one before people started throwing out their fruit bowls to replace them with cookie jars. What is important to everyone, especially cancer patients who may lose nutrients during treatment, is to get the most nutrition out of the foods we eat, which is why fruits and vegetables are crucial to our daily diet. Fruits and veggies are low in calories, are packed with vitamins and minerals, and are an excellent source for fiber--claims that many processed foods cannot make. Also, other research has shown that diets high in vegetables and fruits can have a preventive effect against obesity and cardiovascular disease. And we do know that obesity can increase your risk of getting certain cancers. The ACS has some basic recommendations on diet: • Eat a healthy diet, with an emphasis on plant sources. • Choose foods and drinks in amounts that help achieve and maintain a healthy weight. • Eat five or more servings of a variety of vegetables and fruits every day. • Choose whole grains over processed (refined) grains. • Limit intake of processed and red meats. • If you drink alcoholic beverages, limit your intake. Drink no more than one drink per day for women or two per day for men. For more information, check out the ACS's guidelines for nutrition and physical activity for cancer prevention.