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.
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.
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.
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.
Sounds easy, but most Americans are only eating fruit once a day, and vegetables 1.7 times a day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A good way to do it? Give some of these 26 recipes that will make you love vegetables a try. And don’t worry if you only have frozen—both fresh and frozen vegetables retain their nutrients, as we reported.