A new study published in the journal Circulation lengthens data on the health effects associated with habitual fruit and vegetable consumption.
In the paper, co-authored by a team at the American Heath Association and researchers at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, it was determined that eating two servings of fruit and three servings of vegetables a day dramatically reduces one’s risk for early death.
Some sources were more impactful than others with respect to the aforementioned findings.
Green leafy vegetables, like collard, spinach, kale, and lettuce, alongside vegetables high in beta carotene content, and citrus fruits and berries, including grapefruits, clementines, and pomelo, yielded the most advantageous outcomes.
Conversely, starchy vegetables, like peas, corn and potatoes, and fruit juices were not correlated with any positive health effects.
The reasoning mainly concerned disease incidents. Avoiding saturated fats, and processed foods in favour of organic fruit and vegetables decreases the risk of developing cancer and heart disease.
Leafy greens are dense with essential B-vitamin folate, plus lutein and zeaxanthin, which have been studied to contribute to antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects in the body.
The results were derived from the 66,719 women involved in the Nurses’ Health Study conducted between 1984 and 2014 and the 4,2016 men involved in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study which was conducted between 1986 and 2014. None of the participants had cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer, or diabetes at the start of the analysis.
“Diet was assessed using a validated semiquantitative food frequency questionnaire at baseline and updated every two to four years. We also conducted a dose-response meta-analysis, including results from our two cohorts and 24 other prospective cohort studies,” the authors wrote in the new paper.
“We documented 33,898 deaths during the follow-up. After adjustment for known and suspected confounding variables and risk factors, we observed non-linear inverse associations of fruit and vegetable intake with total mortality and cause-specific mortality attributable to cancer, CVD, and respiratory disease.
“Higher intakes of fruit and vegetables were associated with lower mortality; the risk reduction plateaued at five servings of fruit and vegetables per day. These findings support current dietary recommendations to increase intake of fruits and vegetables, but not fruit juices and potatoes.”
Consistently, those who routinely consumed two servings of fruit and three servings of vegetables that belonged to the sources listed above lived the longest of all the cohorts reviewed. Eating more than this value did not yield any additional effects, however.
“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 study author Dong D. Wang, M.D., Sc.D., an epidemiologist, nutritionist, and a member of the medical faculty at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
This article was originally published on The Ladders.