Lowering Risk of Death with Fruits and Vegetables

Fruit and vegetable consumption tied to lower risk of death from all causes

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) An apple a day keeps the doctor away... and, according to a recent study, six more servings of fruit and vegetables could help you live longer.

Researchers examined data on the dietary habits of adults for over seven years.

They found that eating seven or more servings of fruit and vegetables each day was tied to a lower risk of death overall as well as death from heart disease, stroke and cancer.

The authors of the study also noted that vegetables seem to be more protective than fruits.

"Eat seven or more portions of fruits and vegetables daily."

Dr. Oyinlola Oyebode, of the Health and Social Surveys Research Group in the University College London, led the study.

The World Health Organization advises eating 400 grams of fruits and vegetables per day due to evidence that these foods may protect against heart disease and some cancers.

This study looked at whether eating fruits and vegetables is tied to a reduction in all-cause, cancer and cardiovascular deaths.

Researchers used data from the 2001 to 2008 Health Surveys for England, which are annual surveys on health and health-related behaviors.

Participants included 65,226 participants who were 35 years old or older. The average participant was 56 years old.

The average length of follow-up was 7.7 years.

Each of the participants were asked about all of the fresh, canned, and frozen fruits and vegetables they eat.

Salads, smoothies, and juices are included.

The researchers found that the average survey participant ate 3.8 portions of fruit and 1.5 portions of vegetables each day.

During the study period, 4,399 participants died, about 6.7 percent of the group.

1,398 died of cancer and 1,554 died of heart disease.

Over the course of the study, participants who ate at least seven daily portions of fruit and vegetables had a 42 percent lower risk of death from all causes.

Those participants also had a 25 percent reduced risk of dying from cancer and a 31 percent reduced risk of dying from heart disease and stroke.

The authors of the study claimed that vegetables may be more protective, as two to three daily portions were tied to a 19 percent lower risk of death, while the same portions of fruit led to a 10 percent lower risk of death.

Interestingly, frozen and canned fruit seemed to increase the risk of death by 17 percent, possibly due to added sugars.

The researchers concluded that fruit and vegetable consumption was strongly associated with reductions in mortality.

They suggested that adults should eat seven or more portions of fruit and vegetables per day.

This study was published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health on March 31.

The research was funded by the Department of Health and the Health and Social Care Information Centre. The authors declared no competing interests.

Review Date: 
March 31, 2014
Last Updated:
March 25, 2015