Only the good die young, or so Billy Joel’s immortal lyrics would have us believe.

But according to new research, Joel’s muse, Virginia, and her fellow worshippers actually may live longer.

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A panel recruited by the National Institutes of Health found those who attend religious services at least weekly have a 25 percent lower mortality rate. They also have lower rates of depression, are more social and physically active.

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One researcher postulates that turning to prayer or meditation, instead of wallowing in anger or stress, may be the mechanism that lowers risk. But another study by Saint Louis University suggests the advantage could have as much to do with consumption as contemplation.

By cross-tabulating church attendance and dietary patterns, researchers discovered that frequent churchgoers ate 25 percent more “powerhouse” fruits and veggies — those that pack the biggest nutritional punch per serving — than infrequent worshippers. Instead of just sticking to the popular produce items like bananas, corn and iceberg lettuce, faithful parishioners were more likely to include citrus fruits, carrots, melons and cruciferous veggies like broccoli and cauliflower in their diet.

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The findings suggest church communities have tremendous potential to encourage and support healthy behaviors such as eating fruits and vegetables. Amen to that.

Looking for easy, nutritious ways to help your fellow parishioners feed their bodies — as well as their souls? Then try our Healthy Church Potluck Recipes, below:


King James Kale SaladIMG_5733 copy

Ingredients:

  • 9-ounce bag of baby kale or ½ pound kale leaves, large stems removed and torn into bite size pieces
  • 2 carrots, shredded
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon garlic
  • 2 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
  • 2 green onions, sliced thinly

Directions:

  • Place baby kale and shredded carrot in salad bowl.
  • Mix all remaining ingredients except for sesame seeds and green onions in small bowl, whisking well.
  • Place sesame seeds in small sauté pan and toast over medium low heat just until golden, stirring often to brown evenly.
  • Toss dressing and toasted sesame seeds with baby kale and shredded carrots until well coated. Sprinkle with sliced green onions.

Zion Zucchini with ParmesanZucchini wiht grated cheese and garlic, cooking, ingredients. Horizontal, close up.

Ingredients:

  • 6 small zucchini
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon pepper

Directions:

  • Slice zucchini into thin rounds
  • Heat olive oil in saute pan, add garlic, sauté for 30 seconds..
  • Add zucchini. Cook for 2 minutes on medium heat until golden brown. Turn zucchini rounds over and brown on other side.
  • Sprinkle with Parmesan and pepper.

 Godly Grilled Eggplant DipAngelicEggplantDip

Ingredients:

  • 1 large eggplant
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly grease.
  • Slice the eggplant in half lengthwise, then cut each half into quarters lengthwise. Cut each of those in half to make two shorter quarters. Place the eggplant onto the baking sheet with the skin side down. Brush each piece with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  • Roast in the preheated oven until softened and golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven. Serve hot with crackers for dipping.

Christian Buffalo CauliflowerBelieversBuffaloCauliflower

Ingredients:

  • olive oil cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup of flower
  • 1/2 cup of honey
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, or to taste
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 heads cauliflower, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup hot pepper sauce (such as Frank’s RedHot®)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Lightly grease a baking sheet with cooking spray.
  • Mix flour, water, garlic powder, salt, and pepper together in a bowl using a whisk until batter is smooth and somewhat runny. Add cauliflower to batter and mix until cauliflower is coated; spread onto the baking sheet.
  • Bake in the preheated oven until lightly browned, 20 to 25 minutes.
  • Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Remove saucepan from heat and stir hot pepper sauce and honey into butter until smooth. Brush hot sauce mixture over each cauliflower piece, repeating brushing until all the hot sauce mixture is used.
  • Bake in the oven until cauliflower is browned, about 10 minutes. Remove baking sheet from oven and allow the cauliflower to cool 10 to 15 minutes.

Quinoa with (Not Forbidden!) Apple Quinoa

Ingredients:

  • 1½ cups water
  • 1 cup red or tri-colored quinoa, rinsed well
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, finely diced
  • 4 green onions, chopped (green parts only)
  • ½ cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 apple, cored and diced
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • ⅓ cup golden raisins
  • ⅓ cup almonds, toasted, chopped
  • 1 large lemon, juiced
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 325° F.
  • In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add quinoa. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes, or until the water is absorbed. Fluff quinoa with a fork, and let it cool in the fridge.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large sauté pan. Add onion and celery; sauté until translucent. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside in a large salad bowl.
  • Add green onions, parsley, apple, blueberries, raisins, and almonds to the salad bowl. Squeeze the entire lemon over the salad.
  • Add your quinoa to the mixture, drizzle with remaining oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add more lemon juice if needed.
  • Mix well; cool completely. Allow the flavors to meld for 20 minutes before serving.

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This article was originally created by the Dole Nutrition Institute, with additions and updates by LifeZette.