Fruit & Vegetable Intake And Mortality: Five Is Your New Lucky Number

Higher intakes of fruit and vegetables are associated with lower mortality. A new study released by the American Heart Association (AHA) has revealed that we need to eat five vegetables and fruits per day to live the longest.

“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 lead author Dr. Dong Wang, an epidemiologist and nutritionist at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, in a statement.

There were differences in benefits, however, depending on the fruit or veggie in question.

“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,” Wang said.

The study found little or no evidence of peas, corn, potatoes and other starchy vegetables reducing the risk of heart disease or lowering the risk of death.

As per the current dietary recommendations, all types of fruits and vegetables, including starchy vegetables, fruit juices and potatoes, have the same health benefits. However, the study found that not all fruits and vegetables offer the same degree of benefit.

Some fruits and vegetables are more likely to reduce the risk of death or specific chronic disease, says the study, published Monday in AHA’s journal Circulation.

The study was published in two parts.

The first is based on the analysis of data from the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. It followed more than 100,000 American men and women for up to 30 years.

All participants filled out a food habit questionnaire at the start of the studies; those questionnaires were updated every two to four years. That information was then compared to health and death records gathered during the long-term studies.

The second part of the study was a meta-analysis of pooled data from 26 studies covering nearly 2 million participants from 29 countries and territories in Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe and North and South America. Those studies also compared self-reported fruit and vegetable intake with death rates.

Key Findings

  • People who ate five servings a day of fruits and vegetables had a 13% lower risk of death from any cause than people who only ate two servings of fruit and vegetables per day.
  • Eating five servings was also linked to a 12% lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke.
  • People who eat five servings had a 10% lower risk of death from cancer and a 35% lower risk of death from respiratory diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
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