RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) —We all know the nutritional benefits of eating fruits and vegetables—they provide an abundance of important nutrients and vitamins and are associated with a lower body weight. Now, a new study finds that eating more than five servings of fruits and veggies per day can reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, cancer and early death.
- What did the latest study show us?
The study was called a meta-analysis—meaning it looks at data from lots of other investigators. After reviewing nearly 100 studies on diet patterns and disease (including thousands of patients) the researchers found that the greatest benefit came from eating 10 portions of fruits and vegetables a day. They estimate that if everyone ate this amount –around 28 ounces – approximately 7.8 million premature deaths worldwide could be prevented.
Eating 10 portions of fruits and vegetables per day was tied to a:
- 24 percent reduced risk of heart disease
- 33 percent reduced risk of stroke
- 28 percent reduced risk of cardiovascular disease
- 13 percent reduced risk of cancer
- 31 percent reduction in premature death
- Are some fruits and vegetables better than others?
The authors found that not all fruits and vegetables are equal.
Apples and pears; citrus fruits; salads and green leafy vegetables such as spinach, lettuce and chicory; and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower may all help in the prevention of heart disease, stroke and early death.
Green vegetables, such as spinach or green beans; yellow vegetables, such as peppers and carrots; and cruciferous vegetables may help reduce cancer risk.
- How exactly does increasing intake of fruit and veggies improve our health?
Fruit and vegetables have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and to boost the health of our blood vessels and immune system. This may be due to the particular nutrients found in fruits and vegetables—antioxidants and other chemical compounds that are biologically active.