Why Eating Vegetables Can Save Your Life

studio photography of different fruits and vegetables on old wooden table

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Diet-related disparities often position African Americans at a disadvantage for poorer health outcomes in terms of chronic diseases and quality of life. The differences in diet often include diets high in fat, particularly saturated fats; high in salts; and low in whole grains and fruits and vegetables. Although there are various reasons for these differences in the African American diet, including cultural history, access to nutritional foods, and cost, there are still choices that support a healthier lifestyle.
To improve health outcomes, it is vital to modify our dietary practices. Consuming more fruits and vegetables can support better health. Here are several important facts to know about fruits and vegetables.
Myth: An apple a day is enough.
Fact: Depending on age and sex, federal guidelines recommend that adults eat at least 1 ½ to 2 cups per day of fruits and 2 to 3 cups per day of vegetables as part of a healthy eating pattern (CDC, 2017). Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables daily can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes, prevent some types of cancers, promote weight loss, and lower risk of eye and digestive problems (Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, 2022). Although an apple a day is great, you need to eat more.
Myth: All vegetables are created equal.
Fact: In general, vegetables provide nutrients essential for health and maintenance of your body. The benefits of vegetables include providing sources of potassium, dietary fiber, folate, vitamin A, and vitamin C (United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 2022). However, no single vegetable provides all the nutrients you need to be healthy. Dark leafy greens are high in nutrients and low in calories. Kale, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage, and broccoli are packed with antioxidants and help reduce risks of cancer. Sweet potatoes, white potatoes, soybeans, lima beans, spinach, kidney beans, and squash are high sources of potassium and help to lower blood pressure.
Myth: Vegetables are too expensive to eat regularly.
Fact: Warehouse and supercenter food stores tend to have the lowest prices for vegetables. At a farmers market, you have access to fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables at the peak of growing season (USDA, 2015). Organic produce at the farmers market is often cheaper than what you will find in the grocery store. In addition to cash, many farmers markets now accept credit cards, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, and other nutrition benefits. SNAP provides benefits to eligible low-income individual families to purchase eligible food (Cassady, Jenner, & Culp, 2007). A Produce Prescription Program allows access to healthy produce at low or no cost to eligible individuals with a diet-related health risk or food insecurity (National Produce Prescription Collaborative, 2021).
Incorporating more fruits and vegetables in your daily diet helps to protect against diseases that can lead to death or chronic conditions. This can help reduce health and diet disparities that exist by improving health outcomes. Eating plenty of vegetables can prolong the quality of your life.


  • Cassady, D., Jetter, K., & Culp, J. (2007). Is price a barrier to eating more fruits and vegetables for low-income families?. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics,107 (11): 1909-1915
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2011). Strategies to Prevent Obesity and Other Chronic Diseases: The CDC Guide to Strategies to Increase the Consumption of Fruits and Vegetables. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. (2022, January 14). The Nutrition Source. Vegetables and Fruits. Retrieved from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/vegetables-and-fruits/
  • National Produce Prescription Collaborative (2021). Support and leverage Produce Prescription programs as prevention & intervention for diet-related disease through federal policy change and further embedding this effective model into healthcare and community food systems. Retrieved from https://nationalproduceprescription.org/
  • Satia, J. (2009). Diet-related disparities: Understanding the problem and accelerating solutions. Journal of American Diet Association, April; 109 (4): 610-615. https://doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2008.12.019
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) (2022, January 14). My Plate. Vegetables. Retrieved from https://www.myplate.gov/eat-healthy/vegetables
  • USDA. (2015). Trends in the U.S Local and Regional Food Systems: Report to Congress. Economic Research Service. Retrieved from http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/ap-administrative-publication/ap-068
Blandine Augustin