A new study of nearly 2 million adults worldwide proves that approximately five daily servings of fruits and vegetables are optimal for ensuring a longer life.
What’s more, according to the new report in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation, the authors were able to break down the distribution to a specific suggestion of two servings of fruits and three servings of vegetables.
Proper diets reduce risk for chronic health conditions including cardiovascular disease and cancer that are among the leading causes of death.
“While groups like the American Heart Association recommend four to five servings each of fruits and vegetables daily, consumers likely get inconsistent messages about what defines optimal daily intake such as the recommended amount, and which foods to include and avoid,” said lead study author 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.
Analysis of the study revealed:
- Intake of about five servings daily was associated with the lowest risk of death, but more than five servings was not associated with additional benefit.
- Eating about two servings daily of fruits and three servings daily of vegetables was associated with the greatest longevity.
- Compared to those who consumed two servings per day, participants who consumed five servings a day of fruits and vegetables had a 13% lower risk of death from all causes; a 12% lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke; a 10% lower risk of death from cancer; and a 35% lower risk of death from respiratory disease, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
- Not all foods that one might consider to be fruits and vegetables offered the same benefits. For example, peas and corn, fruit juices and potatoes were not associated with reduced risk of death from all causes or specific chronic diseases.
- On the other hand, green leafy vegetables, including spinach, lettuce and kale, and those rich in beta carotene and vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, berries and carrots, showed benefits.