The study, published online March 1, 2021, in the journal Circulation, included self-reported health and nutrition data from hundreds of studies from throughout the world, including almost two million people who were tracked for up to 30 years. People who ate five servings of fruits or vegetables per day had a lower risk of heart disease than those who ate only two servings per day.
a 13% reduction in the likelihood of dying from any cause
a 12% reduction in the risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease or strokea 10% lower risk of death from cancer
a 35% lower risk of death from respiratory diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Fruits and vegetables are high in numerous nutrients that are closely connected to good health, especially heart and blood vessel health: potassium, magnesium, fibre, and polyphenols [antioxidant plant chemicals].
Your everyday objectives
Among research participants, the most beneficial combination of fruits and vegetables was two servings of fruits and three servings of vegetables per day, for a total of five servings per day.
Eating leafy green vegetables (kale, spinach) and fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C and beta carotene provided the greatest health advantages (citrus, berries, carrots). "These are key sources of antioxidants, which may have a role in cancer prevention."
Surprisingly, eating more than five servings of fruits and vegetables per day did not appear to give any further advantage in terms of decreasing the risk of mortality. Eating starchy vegetables like peas, maize, or potatoes, as well as drinking fruit juices, had no effect.
Also, keep in mind that we're discussing how much you consume on average. It's alright if you don't eat any fruits or veggies on any given day: you won't pass out. You can increase your weekly average by adding a bit more than normal on other days.
And you don't have to make drastic adjustments to your regular meals: just a few tweaks. Breakfast might be a bowl of cereal with blueberries, or eggs with sautéed tomatoes, onions, and spinach.
Lunch might consist of a salad with your favourite fruits and vegetables (for example, kale and spinach salad with grapefruit pieces, red peppers, carrots, and pine nuts), a cup of yoghurt with strawberries, or a smoothie with kale and mango.
Include a side salad or a large side of veggies for supper, such as steamed broccoli, yellow squash, and zucchini. If you haven't eaten enough veggies during the day, make your main meal a large salad with a variety of colourful vegetables and some bits of protein, such as grilled chicken or fish.
Dessert: fresh or frozen fruit is a delightful and healthy treat, especially when paired with a dollop of frozen yoghurt.
Including five servings per day
If five servings per day are the aim, how big is a serving?
This might help you plan meals that incorporate your favourite foods. To receive the optimum balance of vitamins, minerals, and other essential elements in your tailored five-a-day regimen, aim for a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.
Servings of fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables (and serving size)
Apple Inc. (1 fruit)
1 fresh apricot, 1/2 cup canned apricots, or 5 dried apricots
1/2 fruit avocado (or 1/2 cup)
The fruit banana (1 fruit)
(1/2 cup fresh, frozen, or canned blueberries)
Cantaloupe (one-fourth melon)
Grapefruit (half a fruit)
(1/2 cup) grapes
1 fresh peach or plum or 1/2 cup canned peaches or plums
a pear (1 fruit)
Dried plums or prunes (6 prunes or 1/4 cup)
Rieslings (1 ounce)
(1/2 cup fresh, frozen, or canned strawberries)
Fruit and vegetable (and serving size)
Broccoli (half a cup)
1/2 cup Brussels sprouts
(1/2 cup) cabbage
2–3 ounces carrot juice
Carrots (half a cup cooked, half raw, or 2–4 sticks)
Cauliflower (half a cup)
2–3 sticks of celery
1 ear corn or 1/2 cup frozen or canned corn
1/2 cup eggplant
(1/2 cup) kale, mustard greens, orchard
The lettuce (1 cup iceberg, leaf, romaine)
1/2 cup mixed or stir-fried veggies
The onion (1 slice)
Chilli peppers (3 slices green, yellow, or red)
(1/4 cup) salsa, Picante, or taco sauce
1/2 cup cooked spinach or 1 cup raw spinach
Dark orange squash (winter) (1/2 cup)
(1/2 cup) summer squash or zucchini
(1/2 cup) string beans
Tomato juice or V-8 juice (small glass)
Toasted tomatoes (2 slices)
1/2 cup tomato sauce
Soup with vegetables (1 cup)
1/2 cup yams or sweet potatoes
Source: Circulation, 14 March 2021. (published online ahead of print).