The key to a longer life is eating fruit and vegetables, a new study shows. According to researchers led by scientists from Imperial College London, eating 10 portions, or 800 g, of fruit and vegetables a day can help prevent premature deaths.

The study involved analyzing other analysis on fruit and vegetable consumption. They also took into account cases of heart disease, cancer and cardiovascular diseases. The findings were published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

“We wanted to investigate how much fruit and vegetables you need to eat to gain the maximum protection against disease, and premature death,” states lead researcher Dagfinn Aune from the School of Public Health at Imperial. “Our results suggest that although five portions of fruit and vegetables are good, ten a day is even better.”

In a press release, the research team shows that consuming 800g fruit and vegetables a day can result in a 24 per cent reduced risk of heart disease, a 33 per cent reduced risk of stroke, a 28 per cent reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, a 13 per cent reduced risk of total cancer and a 31 per cent reduction in dying prematurely.

The best fruits to consume for this benefit were apples, pears, citrus fruits, salads and green leafy vegetables like lettuce, spinach, chicory as well as cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. Green vegetables like spinach or green beans, yellow vegetables, like peppers and carrots, and cruciferous vegetables can also reduce one’s risk of developing cancer.

while the benefit is the same in raw and cooked fruits and vegetables, further research is still needed to determine the best way to prepare them. Researchers also believe that these foods’ positive effects on cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and health of blood vessels and immune system may explain the benefit of prolonging life.

However, supplements may not be able to achieve this benefit, the researchers point out. It could be that the benefit of eating fruits and vegetables cannot be replicated by a pill.

“We need further research into the effects of specific types of fruits and vegetables and preparation methods of fruit and vegetables,” says Aune. “We also need more research on the relationship between fruit and vegetable intake with causes of death other than cancer and cardiovascular disease. However, it is clear from this work that a high intake of fruit and vegetables hold tremendous health benefits, and we should try to increase their intake in our diet.”

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