Daily five servings of fruits and vegetables are the key to live a longer and healthier life. This claim has been made by a study published in the journal, Circulation.
The paper, co-authored by a team at the American Heath Association and researchers at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, concluded that eating two fruits and three vegetables daily will help a person live longer.
For this analysis, researchers also pooled data on fruit and vegetable intake and death from 26 studies that included about 1.9 million participants from 29 countries and territories in North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia.
“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 of fruits and vegetables such as the recommended amount, and which foods to include and avoid,” said lead study author Dong D Wang, a member of the medical faculty at Harvard Medical School.
Wang and colleagues analysed data from two studies including more than 100,000 adults who were followed for up to 30 years.
Not all food has the same benefits
Not all foods that one might consider to be fruits and vegetables offered the same benefits.
For example, starchy vegetables, such as 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 fruit and vegetables rich in beta carotene and vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, berries, and carrots, showed benefits.
“Diet was assessed using a validated semiquantitative food frequency questionnaire at baseline and updated every 2 to 4 years. We also conducted a dose-response meta-analysis, including results from our 2 cohorts and 24 other prospective cohort studies,” the authors wrote in the new paper.
“We documented 33898 deaths during the follow-up. After adjustment for known and suspected confounding variables and risk factors, we observed nonlinear inverse associations of fruit and vegetable intake with total mortality and cause-specific mortality attributable to cancer, CVD, and respiratory disease.”