You Probably Don’t Need to Eat As Many Fruits and Vegetables As You Think

The life-saving benefits can be found in just a few servings

Christa Sgobba |

Can’t choke down another helping of broccoli? You may not need to eat as much as you think: Eating tons of fruits and vegetables may not be any more protective in helping you live longer than eating just a few servings a day, a new study published in The Lancet suggests.

Related: Should You Cut Down On Fruit If You’re Trying to Lose Weight?

In the study, researchers quizzed over 135,000 people from 18 different countries on their eating and lifestyle habits, as well as their health history. Then, they followed them up for an average of about 7 years to see how many died.

The findings? Eating fruits and vegetables was linked to a lower risk of death during the course of the study. But the benefit peaked at three to four servings a day: Those that hit that mark were 22 percent less likely to die of any cause than those who ate 1 serving or less a day. There was no additional life-saving benefit seen to eating any more than that, the study found.

Related: Are Fresh or Frozen Fruits and Vegetables Better For You?

Prior studies—as we reported on in the past—have linked greater fruit and vegetable consumption to a reduced risk of serious disease. For instance, eating about 250 grams of fruits and vegetables a day, or about 2.5 servings, was linked to a 18 percent reduction in stroke and a four percent drop in cancer. But those who ate 4 times as much, or about 10 servings a day, reduced their risk of stroke by 33 percent and cancer by 13 percent.

So while this study provides evidence that you don’t need to overload on the fruits and vegetables to live longer, it’s not exactly the be-all, end-all of the scientific thinking out there—especially in light of the past studies that did show a more-is-better benefit.

Related: The Fruit That Lowers Blood Sugar

But it does show that you are likely helping your health by not skipping the green stuff completely. So make sure to fit in at least three to four servings of fruits and vegetables a day.  And don’t worry if you only have frozen—both fresh and frozen vegetables retain their nutrients.

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