Want to Live a Long Life? Eat THIS DailyFive a day is not enough. To add years to your life, eat 10 daily servings of fruits and vegetables, say British researchers, who have found that packing our diet with everything from apples to zucchini lowers our risk of heart attack, stroke, cancer and early death.
Ten a day is such a powerful recipe for good health and longevity that the team from Imperial College London estimates that if everyone around the globe did this, a staggering 7.8 million premature deaths worldwide would be avoided every year. To arrive at this conclusion, the Imperial College London scientists analyzed 95 previous research studies that included almost 2 million people.
How much is 10 servings a day? It's about 800 grams of produce. This translates to 10 small bananas or apples or 30 tablespoons of cooked spinach, peas, broccoli or cauliflower.
Which types of produce are most beneficial? The greatest health benefits were found with apples, pears, citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower) and green and yellow vegetables (such as green beans, spinach, carrots and peppers).
While the current recommended amount is five portions of fruits and veggies, 10 portions are better. If that seems too much for you, don't despair. Even two servings a day can make a difference in your health, reducing your risk for heart disease, stroke, cardiovascular disease, cancer and premature death. But load up on 10 servings a day and your risk for all of these drops even more.
"Fruit and vegetables have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels, blood pressure and to boost the health of our blood vessels and immune system," lead study author Dagfinn Aune said in a university news release. "This may be due to the complex network of nutrients they hold. For instance, they contain many antioxidants, which may reduce DNA damage and lead to a reduction in cancer risk."
One important caveat: The study did not prove a cause-and-effect link between eating more fruits and vegetables and living longer. Aune speculates that it is "the whole package" of benefits conferred by eating fruits and veggies that is crucial to better health. That means it's important to eat the whole orange and not just take a vitamin C supplement instead.
The study findings were published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.
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