Sorry pea, corn and potato aficionados. A study shows people who consume five daily servings of fruits and vegetables live longer. But these starchy veggies, and others like them, don’t appear to provide the same oomph to your health.
A study published in the journal Circulation analyzed dietary and health information from nearly 2 million people who participated in over two dozen smaller studies on dietary habits. The researchers found, overall, that eating five servings of fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of death 13% compared with eating just two servings daily. Typically, a serving is considered a half cup of vegetables or fruit, or in the case of salad greens, a full cup.
The five-a-day crowd was found to have a 10% lower risk of cancer, a 12% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and a whopping 35% lower chance of getting a respiratory disease. That all adds up to longer lives.
The bad news: Most Americans are nowhere near reaching that five-a-day target. In fact, the average consumption of fruits and vegetables for most people in the U.S. is a mere one-and-a-half servings.
The heightened longevity appeared to plateau at five servings a day. So, eating six or seven helpings daily does not seem to increase the benefit. But nutritionists note it certainly isn’t unhealthy to eat more veggies.
Many Americans need to work harder at beefing up their servings of vegetables, especially the variety. Consider our love of potatoes. Researchers say spuds account for a quarter of all U.S. vegetable consumption. Half of that comes from french fries and chips, both high in unhealthy fat and salt.
Try some zucchini, folks. And keep the salt in the shaker.