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A Harvard Study Says You Should Eat This Amount of Fruits and Vegetables If You Want to Live Longer

We all know eating fruits and vegetables can do wonders for our health, but how much should we actually eat?

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.

A study by the School of Public Health Harvard TH published in the journal Circulation concluded that eating two servings of fruits and three vegetables is associated with a longer life.


Recommendations on eating fruits and vegetables are not new — they are something we have heard since we were children. Health specialists encourage their consumption for all the nutrients they contain so that our body functions optimally. However, this study gives us more information regarding the specific amount and combination.

The Harvard study suggests that a simple diet plan is much more effective. They analyzed the dietary information of 100,000 adult women and men, from 1984 to 2014. They gave questionnaires about their eating habits every two to four years. They then compared the data on the mortality rate against the intake of fruits and vegetables of almost 2 million people from 29 countries around the world.

They found that people who follow the "five servings a day" recommendation from the American Heart Association live longer than those who did not. Participants who ate two fruits and three vegetables a day had a 13% lower risk of death, 12% less death from cardiovascular disease, 10% less death from cancer, and 35% lower risk of getting respiratory disease.

They also showed that if you ate more than those servings daily, there was no difference in longevity. That is, it is not bad, but there are no "extra" benefits.

The epidemiologist, nutritionist and lead author of the study, Dong D. Wang, commented that "this amount probably offers the greatest benefit in terms of prevention of major chronic diseases and is a relatively achievable intake for the general public."

Image: Depositphotos

However, not everything is easy in this life. Eating fruits and vegetables in those portions does not guarantee results, but knowing the most optimal combinations helps.

"Consumers are likely to receive messages about what defines the optimal daily intake, such as the recommended amount and what foods to include and avoid," says Dr. Wang.

Starchy vegetables are examples of this, such as corn, potatoes and fruit juices. They are not associated with a lower risk of death from any of the diseases mentioned above. But, on the other hand, fruits and vegetables with beta-carotene and vitamin C, such as citrus, did show health benefits.

Other foods to try are green leafy vegetables, such as lettuce, spinach, and cabbage, as well as berries and carrots.