Eight Servings of Fruits and Vegetables a Day Can Increase Longevity

Eight Servings of Fruits and Vegetables a Day Can Increase Longevity

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Highlights:
  • Consumption of five servings of fruits and vegetables a day was linked to better health.
  • Now a new study claims that eight servings of fruits and vegetables a day can increase longevity.
  • Eating eight servings of fruits and vegetables can prevent 7.8 millions of premature deaths.
Fruits and vegetables are packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help improve overall health. It is well-known that the recommended intake of fruits and vegetables is five servings a day. Now a new comprehensive study recommends eight servings of fruits and vegetables a day for better health.
Eight Servings of Fruits and Vegetables a Day Can Increase Longevity

The study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology showed that nearly 7.8 million deaths worldwide could be prevented each year if people ate more fruits and vegetables.

Lead author of the study, Dagfinn Aune, from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and Imperial College London, said that the more the consumption of fruits and vegetables, the lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer and premature death.

"The results support recommendations to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables people eat," said Aune.

Eight Servings of Fruits and Vegetables a Day

It is well-known that consumption of fruits and vegetables are linked to better health. However, none of the previous studies have examined the recommended intake to increase health benefits.

The research team conducted the largest meta-analysis which included 142 publications from 95 different population studies that studied the relationship between the consumption of fruits and vegetables and the subsequent risk of chronic diseases.

The findings of the meta-analysis showed that the risk of heart disease, stroke, and premature death decreased by 10.8 percent for each 200 gram increase in consumption of fruit or vegetables up to an intake of 800 grams.


The greatest impact from increasing daily intake of fruits and vegetables was seen in people who do not eat fruits and vegetables and those who eat very little of them. For people whose diets already include some fruit and vegetables, there were additional benefits in increasing the intake of fruits and vegetables.

Many health organizations have recommended that people eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, which is approximately 500 grams. The new analysis suggests that the risk of disease and premature death can be reduced by eating more fruits and vegetables than recommended.

Consumption of 800 grams of fruits and vegetables reduced the risk of
  • Premature death from all causes by almost a third
  • Cardiovascular disease by about a quarter
"We see a gradual reduction in risk with increasing consumption, so a low or moderate intake is better than not eating fruits and vegetables at all," said Aune.

Protective Effect of Fruits and Vegetables

People who eat high amounts of fruits and vegetables are physically active, less likely to smoke or drink alcohol and they also avoid red or processed meat compared to those who eat fewer fruits and vegetables.

"Perhaps that means there are factors other than fruit and vegetables that are behind the reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and premature death that the researchers found?"

"Many, but not all of the studies in our analysis adjusted for these factors. We saw pretty much no significant difference in the results of studies with and without this kind of adjustment. Nevertheless, we cannot completely exclude that the results are due to factors we have not been able to take into account," said Aune.

Lowers the Rate of Premature Deaths

The research team analyzed the number of premature deaths that can be prevented if everyone consumed 800 grams of fruits and vegetables a day.

They found that 7.8 million deaths can be prevented if people ate 800 grams of fruits and vegetables and 5.4 million deaths can be prevented if people consumed 500 grams of fruits and vegetables a day.

The authors of the study noted that two to four million deaths related to cardiovascular disease and 660,000 cancer deaths could be prevented a year if everyone had the optimal amount of fruits and vegetable.

"Part of what is most fascinating about this study is that the association between fruits and vegetables and mortality is greater than one would expect only on the basis of the relationships we find with cardiovascular disease and cancer, so it is conceivable that fruit and vegetables are beneficial in preventing other diseases and causes of death as well," said Aune.

"But since we had very limited data, we could not do analyses for other causes of death. This is something we want to pursue."

Fruits and Vegetables that Offer more Protection

Fruits and vegetables are good sources of fiber, vitamin C, antioxidants, and potassium, all of which have been directly linked to good health.

Increased intake of fruits and vegetables can
  • Help lower cholesterol
  • Reduce blood pressure
  • Improve blood vessel function
  • Aid in digestion
  • Prevent fat accumulation
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Increase good gut bacteria
The research team also analyzed the varieties of fruits and vegetables that can be linked to reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and premature death.

Apples, pears, citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables and other fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C were linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and premature death. However, canned fruits increased the risk.

"However, we need more studies on specific types of fruit and vegetables because relatively few of the studies in our analysis had looked at this issue," said Aune.

"Supplementing with antioxidants and vitamins does not have the same beneficial effects, so probably it's the whole package of beneficial substances that you get from eating fruits and vegetables that act synergistically," said Aune.

Tips to Include More Fruits and Vegetables in Your Diet

Fruits and vegetables can be included in the daily diet in the form of salads, juice, soups, and stir-fries.
  • Make a veggie wrap with stir-fried vegetables
  • Top your pizza with broccoli, spinach, and zucchini
  • Make breakfast smoothie with strawberries, and banana
  • Add color to your fruit salad by adding a variety of fruits
  • Add fruits and vegetables to muffins and bread

Reference:
  1. Dagfinn Aune, Edward Giovannucci, Paolo Boffetta, Lars T.Fadnes, NaNa Keum, Teresa Norat, Darren C. Greenwood, ElioRiboli, Lars J. Vatten1and Serena Tonstad. Fruit and vegetable intake and the risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer and all-cause mortality-a systematic review and dose response meta-analysis of prospective studies. International Journal of Epidemiology (2017) DOI:10.1093/ije/dyw319
  2. 20 Ways to Enjoy More Fruits and Vegetables - (http://www.eatright.org/~/media/eatright%20files/nationalnutritionmonth/handoutsandtipsheets/nutritiontipsheets/20waystoenjoymorefruitsandvegetables.ashx)


Source: Medindia

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