Why This Study Suggests Eating Two Fruits and Three Vegetables Daily to Live Longer

Annie Hayes
·2-min read
Photo credit: VioletaStoimenova - Getty Images
Photo credit: VioletaStoimenova - Getty Images

From Men's Health

You don't need to be a walking allotment to reap the health benefits of fresh produce. Eating about five servings of fruits and vegetables – two fruits, three veggies – seems to be the optimal amount for a longer life, according to new research published in the journal Circulation.

Researchers from Harvard Medical School drew this conclusion after examining data from nearly two million adults across the globe, including two studies spanning 100,000 adults across 30 years. It's pretty robust.

While the study was observational – and correlation doesn't equal causation – filling up on two portions of fruits and three portions of veggies each day was associated with the lowest risk of death across the board. Surprisingly, scoffing more didn't seem to confer any additional benefits.

Those who hit the serving sweet spot reduced their risk of death from all causes by 13 per cent, heart disease and stroke by 12 per cent, cancer by 10 per cent, and respiratory disease by a bumper 35 per cent, compared to those who only managed two servings each day, the data revealed.

However, not all fruits and veggies have the same life-extending properties. Starchy vegetables like peas, corn and potatoes weren't associated with a reduced risk of death. Still, they're a solid source of fibre and definitely deserve a place on your plate.

Fruit juices didn't make the cut – no surprise, they aren't great for you anyway – so ditch the OJ. Instead, eat the whole orange. Fruit and veggies rich in beta carotene and vitamin C – such as citrus fruits, berries and carrots – and green leafy vegetables like spinach, lettuce and kale, showed measurable benefits.

If you're curious about what constitutes a portion, it's 80g of fresh, canned or frozen fruit and vegetables. If you go tinned or canned, make sure it's in natural juice or water, with no added sugar or salt, the NHS advises. If you're a dried fruit fan, 30g counts as one portion.

What's more, certain portions only count once: a maximum of 150ml of fruit juice, vegetable juice or smoothie, and 80g of beans and pulses. Potatoes don't count towards your five-a-day, nor do yams, cassava and plantain. That's no licence to avoid them – they just don't count towards your five-a-day.

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