Doctors & nutritionalists have long touted the advantages of diets high in fruits and vegetables. For any remaining skeptics, two new studies reinforce the advantages in a convincing way.

The first study of 65,226 people in England found that those people who consume seven or more servings of fruits in fruits and vegetables have a decreased death rate of 42 percent. That’s a startling statistic.

The same study found that eating seven portions or more reduced the risk of death by cancer and heart disease by 25 percent and 31 percent respectively.

If you eat one to three servings of fruits and veggies each day, you will reduce your risk of death by 14 percent compared to eating less than one serving. Your risk is reduced by 29 percent when you eat three to five servings, 36 percent when you eat five to seven servings, and 42 for seven or more.

According to Oyinlola Oyebode, PhD, lead researcher, “The clear message here is that the more fruit and vegetables you eat, the less likely you are to die at any age. Vegetables have a larger effect than fruit, but fruit still makes a real difference. If you’re happy to snack on carrots or other vegetables, then that is a great choice but if you fancy something sweeter, a banana or any fruit will also do you good… People shouldn’t feel daunted by a big target like seven. Whatever your starting point, it is always worth eating more fruit and vegetables. In our study even those eating one to three portions had a significantly lower risk than those eating less than one.”

In the second study by the American College of Cardiology’s 63rd Annual Scientific Session, researchers studied the association between dietary intake of fruits and vegetables and presence of coronary artery calcification, an early indication of heart disease and plaque build-up. They found that women who consumed eight to nine servings of fruits and vegetables daily in their twenties were less likely to have calcified plaque in their forties than those who ate three to four servings. This association persisted even after researchers accounted for other lifestyle behaviors, as well as for their current-day diets, further demonstrating the role dietary patterns at younger ages may play.

“These findings confirm the concept that plaque development is a lifelong process, and that process can be slowed down with a healthy diet at a young age,” stated Michael Miedema, MD, MPH, lead author. Coronary artery calcium scoring is the best predictor for future heart attacks, he noted.

When it comes to fruits and veggies, it’s clearer than ever that more really is more.

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