Optimal daily mix of 2 fruit and 3 vegetable servings ensures longevity

March 3, 2021
Optimal daily mix of 2 fruit and 3 vegetable servings ensures longevity

“The American Heart Association recommends filling at least half your plate with fruits and vegetables at each meal,” said Anne Thorndike, chair of the Association’s nutrition committee and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston. However, inconsistent messages about which foods to include and avoid often leave consumers baffled.

Diets rich in fruits and vegetables are known to help reduce risk for numerous chronic health conditions that are leading causes of death, including cardiovascular disease and cancer. Yet, only about one in 10 adults eat enough fruits or vegetables, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to analyses by Dong D. Wang, an epidemiologist, nutritionist and a member of the medical faculty at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, the optimal intake level of fruits and vegetables is five servings of fruit and vegetable each day. “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.”

Eating about two servings daily of fruits and three servings daily of vegetables was associated with the greatest longevity. Compared to this, participants who consumed five servings a day of fruits and vegetable 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).

Most importantly, Wang and colleagues found that not all foods that one might consider to be fruits and vegetables offered the same protective and preventative benefits.”Even though current dietary recommendations generally treat all types of fruits and vegetables the same, 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.

The analyses included dietary information repeatedly collected from the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, comprising more than 100,000 adults who were followed for up to 30 years. The 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 across North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia.

Read: Ten portions of fruits, vegetables a day cuts risk of heart disease, cancer

“This research provides strong evidence for the lifelong benefits of eating fruits and vegetables and suggests a goal amount to consume daily for ideal health,” said Thorndike. “Fruits and vegetables are naturally packaged sources of nutrients that can be included in most meals and snacks, and they are essential for keeping our hearts and bodies healthy.”


Category: Features, Wellness and Complementary Therapies

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