fruits and vegetables

  1. Foods that can extend your life

    The 'magnificent' secret to a longer life

    I know people who'd pay a king's ransom for the secret to a longer life. But today, I'm going to let you in on one of those secrets -- a secret that could add more than a year to your own lifespan.

    And you don't have to pay a cent for this one.

    I call it the Magnificent Seven, because if you up your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables to seven servings a day, your risk of premature death will drop by 10 percent and your risk of heart disease will plunge by 15 percent, according to a major new study out of Europe.

    More importantly, the Magnificent Seven will add 58 weeks to your life.

    And if you go beyond the Magnificent Seven and eat even more fresh produce, you could get an even bigger benefit -- because every 7-ounce increase in intake will cut your risk of a premature death by another 6 percent, according to the study.

    Seven servings of fruit and vegetables may sound like a lot, but it's not. That's about 20 ounces a day, or two servings with each meal plus an extra one for a snack.

    It's probably more than you eat now, and it's more than the five servings recommended by the feds. And while the feds count juice as a serving, the Magnificent Seven has to be in food form -- and, ideally, raw, according to the study.

    But when you eat that many fruits and vegetables, you get two very big benefits.

    First, the obvious: plenty of life-extending nutrients, especially the antioxidants that can fight disease and aging. Some of these nutrients are so powerful they can practically stop time on a cellular level.

    The second is less obvious, because it's not what you eat -- it's what you don't eat. When you eat more fruits and vegetables, you eat less of the things you shouldn't eat, especially the junk foods that can cause disease and speed aging.

    So pass on the junk... the cookies... the cakes... the crackers and booze. And instead, add more delicious berries, apples, pears and more to your diet.

    Throw in a few more vegetables, and you won't just live longer.

    You'll live better, too.

  2. Apples top pesticide list

    I know it feels like summer has only just begun, but fall is right around the corner -- and that means apple season is almost here.

    Don't be fooled by the apples you'll find in the supermarket year 'round -- most of them are actually months old... and you won't believe the tricks they use to keep them fresh.

    The guy in the produce department will tell you that the secret is cold storage -- but those apples aren't just placed in a giant fridge somewhere.

    They're also given a massive dose of pesticides after they're harvested in order to prevent mold, blight, rot, and stains during that storage period.

    They're pumped so full of chemicals that a recent study based on government data found at least two pesticides on 92 percent of all apple samples even after they were washed and peeled.

    And 98 percent of more than 700 apple samples tested by the USDA had at least one pesticide.

    As a result, apples were placed on top of the Environmental Working Group's "dirty dozen," a list of fruits and vegetables that contain the highest levels of pesticides.

    EWG says apples are followed by celery, strawberries, peaches, spinach, imported nectarines, imported grapes, sweet bell peppers, potatoes, domestic blueberries, lettuce, and kale.

    If you can't afford to buy everything organic – and these days, who can? -- make sure you at least go organic for those.

    While there's not a lot of research on what a low-but-steady stream of pesticides can do to a person, we do know that higher doses can cause cancer and hormonal problems.

    Some studies have found that farm workers exposed to pesticides on the job have a higher risk of Parkinson's disease. And in pregnant women and children, pesticide exposure has been linked to low birth weight, brain damage, ADHD, and even lower intelligence later in life.

    But the news from the produce aisle isn't all bad. EWG also found a number of fruits and vegetables so low in pesticides that you don't have to buy organic.

    They call them the Clean 15: onions, corn, pineapples, avocado, asparagus, sweet peas, mangoes, eggplant, domestic cantaloupe, kiwi, cabbage, watermelon, sweet potatoes, grapefruit, and mushrooms.

    The organization has a helpful guide you can print, clip and bring to the supermarket.

    It's just about the only time you might need to compare apples and grapefruit.

  3. Hearts and minds: a healthy connection

    A sharper mind won't just help you ward off the signs of dementia – new research finds that keeping keen can also mean a healthier heart.

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