When mom told you to eat your vegetables because they were good for you, she was on to something.

The apple and carrot sticks moms pack into lunch boxes and the other fruit and vegetables at dinner are more than just good healthy food. They help you live longer and have a lower risk of dying from heart disease and cancer.

If that all sounds familiar, it should. Medical professionals and the US Department of Agriculture have been telling us for years to eat more fruit and vegetables.

But what’s the right mix? And how much?

The rule of thumb, at least from the American Heart Association, has been 4-5 servings each of fruit and vegetables a day. Here’s an infographic showing us what a serving should be.

Now comes a new study published this month in the journal Circulation telling us there’s nothing wrong with that many servings, but the optimal amount for good health and the lowest risk of death is five servings.Total. Two servings a day of fruit and three of vegetables was found by researchers to be associated with the greatest longevity. More doesn’t hurt, but it doesn’t appreciably make a difference.

“This amount likely offers the most benefit in terms of prevention of major chronic disease and is a relatively achievable intake for the general public,” said Dong D. Wang, M.D., Sc.D., an epidemiologist, nutritionist and a member of the medical faculty at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

The lead author of the study, Wang went on to tell ScienceDaily that it makes a difference what the fruit and vegetables are. “We also found that not all fruits and vegetables offer the same degree of benefit, even though current dietary recommendations generally treat all types of fruits and vegetables, including starchy vegetables, fruit juices, and potatoes, the same.”

Peas and corn, as popular as the latter may be, offered no real benefit in lowering mortality. However, green leafy vegetables, nonstarchy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, citrus fruit, vitamin C–rich, and β-carotene-rich fruit and vegetables did.

Anne Thorndike, M.D., M.P.H., chair of the American Heart Association’s nutrition committee and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, said, “This research provides strong evidence for the lifelong benefits of eating fruits and vegetables and suggests a goal amount to consume daily for ideal health.”

Photo by Louis Hansel @shotsoflouis on Unsplash

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Green Key

Need Action? Add a Sticky Note

Before you send out that survey or report or memo no one will pay attention to, do what psychologist Randy Garner did and attach a Post-it to the cover with a quick personal note. You’ll be surprised at the response it gets.

Garner did that just in a series of experiments, doubling his response rate to a survey. The psychology professor at Texas’ Sam Houston State University found that the mere presence of a Post-it on the cover page prompted substantially more responses. Adding a personal note to it increased responses even more. And those who got the personal Post-it were faster to return the survey and were more complete in their written comments.

Even when he tested to see if survey length would have an effect, Garner found that a personal message on the sticky note upped the response rate by 500%. While a 5 page survey got a higher response rate among all three groups — no Post-it, Post-it no message and personalized Post-it — adding just a sticky note alone improved the return rate from 13% (no Post-It) to 40%.

In reporting his research in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, Garner said, “These results suggest that the Post-it generally tends to operate at a somewhat subtle level. When the task is more demanding, however, the personalized Post-it appeal may call greater attention to the personal nature of the request and figures more prominently in a decision to complete the task.”

Discussing the implications of the experiments for business in a Harvard Business Review article, author and psychologist Kevin Hogan said adding the sticky note, even without a message, personalized the appeal creating a “sense of connection, meaning, and identity.”

Garner’s experiments, Hogan observed, showed that “if a task is easy to perform or comply with, a simple sticky note request needs no further personalization. But, when the task is more involved, a more highly personalized sticky note was significantly more effective than a simple standard sticky note request.”

It’s a good lesson the next time you want people to notice and act on that report or memo. Simply add a Post-it and a quick note.

And to make it even more personal and more effective, Hogan says, “Adding the person’s first name at the top and your initials at the bottom causes significantly greater compliance.”


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Green Key

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