Want to live a long, healthy life? Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Of course, there is more to it than that, but studies have consistently demonstrated that fruits and vegetables are an important component of a healthy lifestyle. The latest large study is one from Sweden that showed that eating fewer than five servings of fruits and vegetables per day is linked with a higher chance of dying early.
The Study: Researchers collected data from more than 71,000 Swedes, ages 45 to 83, who were followed for 13 years. At the beginning of the study, participants responded to a dietary questionnaire and reported how frequently they ate fruits and vegetables. After 13 years of follow-up, 11,439 had died.
Results: Participants who reported no fruit or vegetable intake were 53 percent more likely to die during the follow-up period, compared to those who ate five servings daily. In fact, those who never consumed fruits and vegetables died an average of three years sooner than those who ate plenty of fruits and vegetables.
When analyzed separately, those who ate at least one serving of fruit daily lived 19 months longer than those who never ate fruit; and people who ate at least three servings of vegetables per day liver 32 months longer than those who never ate vegetables. Even after adjusting for factors such as smoking, exercise, alcohol consumption, and body weight, the overall results did not change.
My Take: Five servings seems to be the magic number. This is one of the largest studies to show fruit and vegetable consumption is associated with longer life. The study doesn’t prove that fruit and vegetable consumption will lengthen your life, but it does provide support for the 5 per day recommendation. I’m Dr. Michael Hunter, and it’s grapes and watermelon for me.
The small print: The material presented herein is informational only, and is not designed to provide specific guidance for an individual. Please check with a valued health care provider with any questions or concerns. As for me, I am a Harvard- , Yale- and UPenn-educated radiation oncologist, and I practice in the Seattle, WA (USA) area. I feel genuinely privileged to be able to share with you. If you enjoyed today’s offering, please consider clicking the follow button at the bottom of this page.
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References: awomenshealth.com (Winter 2014); Bellavia A, et al. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2013;98(2):454-459.