WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
A newly published study explored the connection between fruit and vegetable intake and rates of hip fracture in older men and women. The study found that older adults who ate less than one serving of fruits and vegetables a day increased their risk of hip fracture by 39%, compared to those who ate 3-5 servings a day.1
WHAT THIS MEANS
Each year at least 250,000 older people—those 65 and older—are hospitalized for hip fractures in the United States.2 These fractures happen because as we age, our bones become less dense and are much more prone to sprains and fractures. It is possible for an older person to develop osteoporosis, a bone disease that weakens bones and makes them much more frail and likely to break. It has been estimated that 54% postmenopausal white women are at-risk of developing osteoporosis and 30% are osteoporotic, and by the age of 80, 27% of women are at-risk and 70% are osteoporotic.3
Of the total number of falls each year, more than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling, and by usually falling sideways. Women are more likely to fracture a hip than their male counterparts, and experience three-quarters of all hip fractures. There are many recommendations of ways to avoid falls, such as getting screened for osteoporosis and seeking treatment if diagnosed, doing strength and balance exercises, having the eyes checked to be able to notice objects on the ground that could cause a fall, and making the home safer.
WHAT THE RESEARCH SHOWS
Diet also plays a major role in maintaining and enhancing bone health. We’ve all heard that milk builds strong bones, but recent research demonstrates that fruits and veggies are a very important dietary component for optimal bone health as well. In a study of 142,000 older adults, all ages 60 and above from the United States and Europe, greater intake of fruits and vegetables was strongly associated with a reduced risk of hip fractures.1 The study required individuals to complete food-frequency questionnaires to provide researchers with a comprehensive picture of each study participant’s dietary habits. In addition to collecting information on diet, participants reported on lifestyle, disease status, physical activity levels and anthropometric characteristics, such as height, weight and total body fat percentage.
For women, the average daily intake of fruits and vegetables ranged from 3.7 servings to 8.7 servings, and for men, the average daily intake ranged from 2.5 servings to 8.7 servings. In addition, more than 50% of men in the study consumed three servings or less of fruits and vegetables each day. Participants with intake of one or less servings of fruit and vegetables had a 39% higher risk of hip fracture in comparison with those whose intake was greater than 3 servings or more each day.
WHY THIS MATTERS
High fruit and vegetable intake has been linked with increased bone mineral density, decreased bone loss, and overall reduced bone turnover.1 In addition, diets high in fruits and vegetables may help to reduce age-related muscle loss, another important risk factor for falls.1 It’s never too early or too late to start reaping the incredible benefits of a nutritious, well-balanced diet.
It’s pretty simple – eat more fruits and veggies! Here are some helpful ideas to help you start eating more fruit today:
- Do you know how much fruit your body needs? Check out our What Is a Serving of Fruits & Vegetables? resource to determine how many servings (based on cups/day) you should be aiming for.
- Once you know how many fruits and veggies you should be eating each day, the easiest way to make that happen is filling half your plate with fruits and veggies at every meal. It’s a simple way to check-in every time you’re eating to make sure that you’re getting enough fruits and veggies in your diet.
- Easily fill half your “plate” by remembering that it all matters – fresh, frozen, canned, puréed, dried, dehydrated, 100 % juice – any way you’re reaching that goal is legitimate and should count towards your daily total.
- Experiment with different ways of cooking your produce – try baking, stir-frying, sautéing, grilling, stewing, baking, or steaming to draw out new flavors.
- Explore our Fruit & Veggie Recipe Database for some culinary inspiration.
- Try visiting a farmer’s market or ethnic grocery store. Use this tool to find a farmer’s market in your area!
Video Center: Selection. Storage. Preparation.
How Many Cups Do You Need?
Key Nutrients in Fruits & Vegetables
Fruit & Veggie Database