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Kale Brownies vs Vampires How to EXTEND your LIFE SPAN with Food

Vampires may live forever, but personally, I’d prefer to extend my lifespan without giving up sunshine and sleeping in beds. Fortunately, there’s a non-supernatural way to live longer! Hint: It does NOT involve consuming a daily supply of fast food burgers, fries and diet colas. On the contrary, the answer is FV: fruits and vegetables. Let’s check in on the latest research confirming what our mothers have been telling us for years:

“Participants who consumed 3 vegetables/day lived 32 months longer than those who never consumed vegetables.”

One apple per day can mean a 19 month difference between life and death. 

Am J Clin Nutr 2013;98:454-9

Women in their 70’s with the most carotenoids (colorful plant pigments, that body can turn into vitamin A, are powerful antioxidants) in their blood streams were twice as likely to survive five years than those with the lowest.

You can double your likelihood of survival by just eating more fruits and vegetables. 

JAGS 60:862-868, 2012

“If older adults increased food expenditure by $.50 per day, with vegetables they would have 12% lower all-cause mortality, and with fruit, a 10% lower all-cause mortality.”  

Nutritional Journal 2012, 11:113

Nutritional gurus recommend that you eat between five to nine servings of vegetables per day. This amount varies based on gender, age and activity. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) sets a serving size for vegetables to be the amount of about one-half cup. Greens like lettuce or kale have a serving size equal to one full cup. 

To get single serving of fruits or vegetables, you would need to eat any of the following examples:

  • 6 strawberries
  • 1 apple
  • 15 grapes
  • 6 cherries (the neon-red ones atop an ice cream sundae do not count!)
  • 5 broccoli florets
  • 10 baby carrots
  • 1 cup romaine lettuce

I suggest a renewed motivation to eat more FV and not worry too much about the exact quantities. Lean towards more vegetables and be careful not to sugar-out on only fruits. In consideration of the proportion of fruits to vegetables, try to make it about 2/3 veggies and 1/3 fruit. It is also preferred to consume fruits in the morning. Avoid juices unless they are fresh squeezed and consumed right after being processed.

Fresh is always better and organic is preferred. Go raw often! Raw FV contain many of the life-extending nutrients in higher quantities. Go for the rich colors of green, red and yellow. The darker the better!

Smoothies are a great morning treat packed with fruits and vegetables. You will be surprised how much kale, spinach or lettuce (yes, lettuce!) you can pack into your smoothie and not even taste it. Throw in half a cup of blueberries and the green color will turn an attractive deep purple.

Several meals each week can consist of a giant salad. It tastes great, is a quick meal without lighting the oven and can account for many veggie servings. Throw on some good proteins such as a pile of garbanzo beans to make it a satisfying meal.

Veggie-up wherever you can. Making a soup? Finely chop some of your favorite greens and drop them in. Mix fresh chives into your scrambled eggs or a few cups of fresh spinach. How about an extra leaf or two of lettuce on your sandwich? Puree fresh red pepper slices or a handful of parsley into you hummus. Eat it with pepper, celery and carrot strips rather than pita chips or crackers. I recently made brownies at my kid’s request. Fortunately, they were busy in the other room and I had time to be creatively green without objection. I put the eggs and melted butter in my high-speed Vitamix blender and pureed in several kale leaves with the stems and large ribs removed. Although my nine-year-old pulled a small piece of kale from her teeth with a confused look, the brownies were devoured.

For more ideas on how to integrate FV into your diet, please visit and view past Living.Well Magazine articles on juicing, sprouting, raw foods, smoothies and my favorite vegetable all-star––lettuce.

Generous amounts of fruits and vegetables taste great, are easy to integrate into your diet and may lengthen your life span! Not only will an apple a day keep the doctor away, but may also keep the reaper at bay. Best of all, you can enjoy eating them in the sun!