A review of 95 different studies involving two million people shows that just two and a half servings of fruits and vegetables per day is associated with a 16 percent reduced risk of heart disease, an 18 percent reduced risk of stroke, a four percent reduced risk of cancer and a 15 percent reduced risk of premature death (Int J Epidemiol, February 22, 2017). In this study a serving is defined as 80 grams, which is roughly equal to a quarter of a cup of cooked vegetables or a small banana, apple, tangerine or pear.

Eating more fruits and vegetables brought even greater health benefits. Ten servings per day was associated with a 24 percent reduced risk of heart disease, a 33 percent reduced risk of stroke, a 28 percent reduced risk of heart and blood vessel disease, a 13 percent reduced risk of total cancer, and a 31 percent reduction in premature deaths. The authors estimate that in 2013, 5.6 to 7.8 million premature deaths worldwide could have been prevented with fruit and vegetable intake of 10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

The authors note that their statistics show association, not cause-and-effect, and that "high fruit and vegetable intake may . . . reduce chronic disease risk indirectly, by displacement of unhealthy foods."

My Recommendations

• You should try to eat lots of fruits and vegetables every day.

• If you choose processed fruits (frozen, canned or dried), check the list of ingredients to be sure that you are not getting a lot of added sugars. For example, canned fruits are typically prepared in sugar syrup and dried cranberries usually have added sugars.

• If you are diabetic or suffer from high rises in blood sugar (blood sugar >140 one hour after meals), your doctor will probably recommend that you restrict fruits to not more than one fruit portion at a time. Eating fruit along with other foods can also keep blood sugar from rising too high.
See Fruits are Healthful Despite Sugar Content
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