How to Change the Eating Habits That Are Killing Us

Do you know what would happen if everybody in this country ate just one additional half cup of vegetables (or fruit) per day? Give up? We could prevent more than 30,000 premature deaths from heart disease per year and would save $5 billion in medical expenditures. And, if we ate the amount of fruit and vegetables recommended in federal dietary guidelines (the Omni Diet gives you much more than that) we could save ourselves $17 billion in medical expenditures per year and prevent more than 127,000 deaths.

Those numbers come from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), a group that looks for practical ways to solve big problems. To deal with our most pressing health problem – the cardiovascular diseases that caused more than 750,000 deaths in 2011 and will undoubtedly continue to claim more lives unless we do something about it – the UCS came up with a plan that speaks to me, loud and clear: “exploit the multiple nutritional and protective benefits of fruits and vegetables”.

Here are some other mind-blowing calculations:

  • Each additional daily serving of fruit or vegetables reduces the risk of stroke by 5 percent and the risk of coronary heart disease by 4 percent.
  • Looking ahead to 2030 the UCS calculated that with no changes in the demographic distribution of cardiovascular disease, 116,000 Americans would be affected and treatment costs will have soared by 200 percent to a mind-blowing $818 billion per year.

You’re ahead of the game if you’re on the Omni Diet because you’re getting plenty of vegetables and fruit. The UCS suggests that as a society we could increase fruit and vegetable consumption by making it easier for farmers to grow more of these crops. That’s not so simple because most research dollars go to growers of commodity crops such as corn and soybeans, not to programs that would focus on new ways to produce higher-yield fruit and vegetable crops and generate new varieties that are more weather resilient than those grown today.

Complicated, isn’t it? Here’s something else the UCS thinks should change: federal farm subsidies go mainly to those who grow commodity crops and are prohibited from growing anything else, except under certain conditions. Can you see what’s going on here? Our tax dollars are subsidizing farmers who grow corn, soy and wheat, which go into highly processed foods (including junk foods) that are making millions of us fat and sick.

The impact of everybody in this country eating one more serving of fruit and vegetables per day could be HUGE. You could take the first steps by introducing your family and friends to Omni friendly ways to consume more fruits and vegetables. Try my crowd pleasing roasted vegetable salad or my sure-fire winner smooth sweet potato soup. You could also try writing your representative in Congress (to find the name and address go to http://www.house.gov and click on “find your representative”).

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a grassroots way to improve our national health turned out to be a winner?

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