Study: Eating this many vegetables and fruits can lead to a longer life

Study: Eating this many vegetables and fruits can lead to a longer life

You already know that eating vegetables and fruits is good for you, but a new study outlines just how much of each you should eat to live a longer life.

A study published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation reports that to increase your longevity, you should shoot for three servings of vegetables and two fruits per day.

“This large study confirms what dietitians and other health care professionals have been recommending all along—get those 5 servings of fruits and vegetables in each day for good health, especially in reducing risk for heart disease,” says Heather Klug, a registered dietitian at the Karen Yontz Center at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center. “ Heart disease is the number one cause of death for both men and women and what we choose to eat each day can reduce this risk greatly.”

The American Heart Association reports that “compared to those who consumed two servings of fruit and vegetables per day, 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.

Klug says that nutrients in fruits and vegetables such as potassium, magnesium, fiber, antioxidants, and phytochemicals promote healthy blood vessels by keeping blood pressure low and preventing cholesterol deposits. And, she says, not all vegetables and fruits are created equal. For example, it’s not that helpful to consume a lot of fruit juice and starchy vegetables.

“Fruit juice and starchy vegetables such as potatoes, peas, and corn did not reduce risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, or a reduced risk for dying from any cause,” she says. “For best health, stick to mainly fresh fruit and non-starchy vegetables.  Eat a rainbow of colors and choose mostly fruits and vegetables with rich, deep colors.”

The study found that people don’t see that much benefit to eating more than those five servings. But, Klug says, only a small percentage of Americans eat that recommended amount anyway, so you should focus on doing the minimum first.

Are you trying to watch your weight? Take a free online quiz to learn more about your healthy weight range here.

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  1. People need clarification or comparisons on exactly what us meant by a “serving” of fruits or vegetables. Is a serving of fruit a small or medium sized apple, a tomato, or a handful of blueberries? Is a serving of vegetables a medium (4-5″ long) carrot , or a small bowl of romaine lettuce? Please list fruit and vegetables alongside their standard serving sizes to make this point clearer to all.

  2. I agree with Leon regarding his comment about serving sizes. My husband asked me what a serving size of vegs/fruits was recently and I was going to forward this article to him until I realized it wouldn’t answer his question. Googling the recommended serving sizes gives a vast array of suggestions/opinions but doesn’t clarify.

About the Author

Mike Riopell
Mike Riopell

Mike Riopell, health enews contributor, is a media relations coordinator with Advocate Aurora Health. He previously worked as a reporter and editor covering politics and government for the Chicago Tribune, Daily Herald and Bloomington Pantagraph, among others. He enjoys bicycles, home repair, flannel shirts and being outside.