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If you’re getting five daily servings of fruits and vegetables, good news — you may be on track for a longer life. An analysis of multiple studies published online March 1, 2021, by Circulation found that people eating the government’s daily recommended amount of fruit and vegetables had a lower risk of early death than people who ate only two servings per day. This included a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, cancer, or respiratory disease. But daily servings from starchy options — such as peas, corn, or potatoes — or from fruit juices, didn’t seem to have the same beneficial effect.
The Harvard researchers looked at 66,719 women and 42,016 men from two large studies. They also included an analysis of 24 other studies. The risk reduction from eating fruits and vegetables was seen across all the various studies.
At the start of the study periods, participants were free from cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. They were asked to fill out dietary questionnaires at the beginning of the study and every two to four years after that. During a nearly 30-year follow-up, more than 18,000 participants died. The researchers found that people who ate two servings of fruit and three of vegetables each day were least likely to die during the study period compared those who ate fewer servings. And five seems to be the magic number, because additional daily servings of fruits and vegetables didn’t reduce overall or disease-specific death rates any further. The benefit plateaued after people reached five daily servings.
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