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Seven-or-More-a-Day Keeps the Undertaker Away

Jul. 29, 2014|756 views
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New evidence shows that eating seven servings of fruits and vegetables daily helps prolong life—and forestall death. In fact, according to a study by researchers at University College, London, eating this amount of plant foods daily is linked to a whopping 42 percent lower risk of death at any point in your life, compared to eating less than one portion. Now that's something to chew on!

Think about it. If someone offered you a pill that could automatically decrease your risk of dying by 42 percent, wouldn't you jump at the chance to get your hands on a lifetime supply? Well, it may not be quite as convenient as popping a pill, but visiting your grocers' organic produce aisle is hardly difficult. And eating organic produce sure tastes better than any pill.

Eating seven or more servings of fruits and vegetables dailylowers the risks of death from cancer and heart disease by 25 percent and 31 percent, respectively. The research also showed that vegetables offer the most health bang for the buck; they're even more protective than fruits. The study is believed to be the first to document the association between eating fruits and vegetables and decreasing the risk of death from all causes, in addition to deaths from heart disease and cancer, specifically.

Investigators also showed that the more fruits and vegetables you eat, the more the risk of death from any cause declines. Compared to people who ate less than one portion of plant foods daily, people who consumed one to three portions enjoyed a 14 percent reduction in the risk of death. Among people eating three to five portions, the risk dropped by 29 percent. And so on.

People who ate seven or more portions of these healthful foods were 42 percent less likely to die from all causes. Furthermore, to rule out possible confounding factors (maybe vegetable eaters have better health habits in general?) the scientists accounted for such differences through statistical analysis. Age, sex, body mass index, education level, and even cigarette smoking were all accounted for. Didn't matter. If you eat more vegetables and fruit, you'll live longer, say researchers.

It's enough to make even the staunchest meat and potatoes lover reach for the broccoli.

One caveat: canned fruit did not seem to count, and might even increase the risk of death slightly. Investigators speculate that fresh is best because canned fruit is often packed in sugary syrup. And no one thinks extra sugar is good for you.

Oyinlola Oyebode, Vanessa Gordon-Dseagu, Alice Walker, Jennifer S Mindell. Fruit and vegetable consumption and all-cause, cancer and CVD mortality: analysis of Health Survey for England data. J Epidemiol Community Health, 31 March 2014 DOI: 10.1136/jech-2013-203500

Tags:  cancer risks, health tips, mediterranean diet