Eat Your Fruits and Veggies? Yes? No? Maybe?

Carol Berg Sloan, RD

A recent study found that fruit and vegetable consumption is only weakly linked to decreased cancer risk. For a dietitian, this is bad news– we have been telling everyone for years to eat their fruits and vegetables, and then one of the strongest risk-reduction messages is shot down.
What to do? First, let’s look more closely at the study. The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer (EPIC) study recruited and followed 142,605 men and 335,873 women for eight years. After almost nine years of compiling the data, 30,000 participants were diagnosed with some type of cancer.
When the researchers looked at what these participants ate, they found a small relationship between fruit and vegetable consumption and cancer risk. Specifically, eating about 7 ounces (2-3 servings) of fruits and vegetables decreased risk by only 3 percent. Not surprisingly, those who drank heavily did get more benefits from eating fruits and vegetables in preventing cancers linked to smoking and drinking.
Bottomline– Researchers for the study did state that we need to continue to eat fruits and vegetables but to realize this won’t ultimately decrease the risk of getting cancer.

So my recommendations and bottomline:
Eat fruits and vegetables because they taste good. There is nothing like roasted asparagus, a crisp apple or a sweet, juicy orange– the list is endless.
Fruits and vegetables offer fiber and numerous vitamins and minerals needed for overall good health, not just for decreasing cancer risk.
There is much more research to be done in the area of dietary food patterns and chronic disease, so look at this study as a small part of a bigger picture.
Realize that other lifestyle issues are critical. For example, daily physical activity, getting enough sleep, decreasing stress and eating less saturated fat are all just as important as eating fruits and vegetables.
And while I am not one for sneaking in vegetables or fruits into recipes, I was intrigued by the Red Satin Cake recipe from the Canned Food Alliance. ( Make it and eat it. It’s delicious!

Vegetables for dessert! This delicious Red Satin Cake gets its extra dose of rich flavor (and vitamins A and C and fiber) from puréed, canned beets. With a fruity filling of vitamin-rich, canned peaches between the layers, peach topping and raspberries decorating the top, a slice of this delicious cake brings a half-cup of fruits and veggies along with great flavors to your mealtime finale.

Non-stick baking spray

1 can (14.5 ounces) no-salt-added sliced beets, not drained

1 box (18.25 ounces) devil’s food cake mix

1/3 cup 2% milk

3 large eggs

1 tablespoon red food coloring (optional)

1 can (15 ounces) sliced peaches in juice, not drained

3 tablespoons cornstarch

8 ounces low-fat cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

12 ounces fresh raspberries, cleaned

Preparation Time:
Approximately 20 minutes

Cook Time:
Approximately 30 minutes

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 2 (8-inch) layer pans with baking spray; set aside. Purée beets with their juice in a blender until smooth; set aside.

Mix the cake mix, puréed beets, milk, eggs and food coloring in the large bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds and on high for 2 minutes, until batter is thick and smooth.

Pour and scrape batter into the prepared pans and bake in the oven for 30 minutes until a tester inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Cool in the pans on racks for 15 to 20 minutes, until cool enough to touch. Remove the cakes from pans and cool on racks until room temperature.

While the cake is baking prepare filling. Purée peaches with their juice and cornstarch in a blender until smooth. Pour into a large saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until boiling and thick, about 5 minutes; cool completely.

 To make the frosting, purée cream cheese, 2 tablespoons cooled peach mixture, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla in a food processor until smooth; set aside.

 To assemble cake, place 1 cake layer on a serving plate, top with the remaining peach mixture and half the raspberries. Place the second layer on top. Ice the sides and top of the cake with cream cheese frosting, and decorate with remaining raspberries. Refrigerate until serving. Cut in 12 wedges and serve.

Servings: 12

Nutritional Information Per Serving: 
Calories 310; Total fat 10g; Saturated fat 4g; Cholesterol 65mg; Sodium 430mg; Carbohydrate 47g; Fiber 4g; Protein 8g; Sugars 30g; Vitamin A 8%DV*; Vitamin C 15%DV; Calcium 8%DV; Iron 15%DV; Potassium 9%DV

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