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Can eating more fruits and vegetables lengthen your lifespan? New evidence says yes!

Everyone knows fruits and vegetables are good for you, but new evidence from a study conducted at University College London makes it clear just how good they are. The bottom line: consuming seven or more servings of produce a day reduces your risk of death at any age, from any cause, by a startling 42%! [1]

To arrive at this conclusion, researchers studied the eating habits of 65,226 people in England between 2001 and 2013. They divided the study participants into five groups based on their consumption of fruits and vegetables, making sure to control for confounding factors such as age, sex, BMI, physical activity, smoking, alcohol consumption, education, and social class.

Compared to people who ate the least amount of fruits and vegetables (less than one serving per day), those who ate the most (seven servings or more per day) were:

  • 25% less likely to die of cancer
  • 31% less likely to die of heart disease
  • 42% less likely to die at any age from any cause

The effect was clearly cumulative, with each increase in fruit and vegetable servings providing a bigger lifespan benefit. Just look at how much eating more produce can reduce your mortality risk:

  • 14% for one to three servings
  • 29% for three to five servings
  • 36% for five to seven servings

Vegetables were more protective than fruit. Each daily serving reduced overall risk of death by 16%. Fruit had a smaller but still statistically significant protective effect of 4% per daily serving.

Dr. Oyinlola Oyebode, the lead author of the study, called the size of the effect “staggering.” She explained, “The clear message here is that the more fruit and vegetables you eat, the less likely you are to die at any age.”

Of course in real life it isn’t always easy to eat like we should. I get it. I try really hard myself, and I don’t always meet those benchmarks. So, if eating seven servings of fruits and vegetables seems like more than you can manage, Dr. Oyebode had this important advice: “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.”

One effective strategy to make sure you’re eating more fruits and vegetables is to have them growing right outside your door. Have you heard of the easiest way to have homegrown produce at your fingertips? It’s called Tower Garden®, and right about now I wish I had one because my traditional garden is taking up a lot of my time and energy.

Tower Garden is a vertical, aeroponic growing system that’s perfect for rooftops, patios, or balconies — just about any sunny spot outdoors. I have a Juice Plus+ Facebook friend who owns a Tower Garden and she’s got me thinking. While I have to worry about who’s going to water my vegetable garden when I go away for the weekend, she posts pictures of her Tower Garden watering itself. And while I’m on my knees weeding, she’s lounging around on her deck because the Tower Garden has no soil, no weeds, and barely any upkeep. I think I’m going to ask Santa for a Tower Garden for next summer!

I’m curious…how many servings of fruits and vegetables do you eat each day? Do you have a Tower Garden? Are you considering getting one?

 

[1] University College London. "New evidence linking fruit and vegetable consumption with lower mortality." ScienceDaily. March 31 2014. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140331194030.htm.

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