Are You Eating Enough Fruits & Veggies? Not Even Close

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veggiesembedPhotographed by Janelle Jones.
Since we were kids, we've been told the same thing about fruits and vegetables: five servings per day, each, always. Nutritionists and other well-meaning adults made sure the whole "five-a-day" mantra was permanently drilled into our heads, probably knowing full well that most of us would have a very hard time even coming close to that number. But, a large, new study has found that even if we manage to scarf down those recommended servings of fruits and veggies each day, we're still doing the whole "nutrition" thing wrong — when it comes to the fresh stuff, more is definitely more.

Researchers at University College London analyzed government-health-survey data for more than 65,226 men and women over the course of eight years. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they found that as the number of servings of fresh fruits and vegetables the subjects consumed increased, the mortality rate decreased. Three servings a day resulted in a 14% decrease in death by any cause over the course of the study; five servings saw a 29% decrease; and eating seven servings was associated with a 36% drop (and 42% for those who ate more than seven servings per day).

The study also looked at which fruit and veggie products carried the biggest benefit. Fresh, raw vegetables were linked to the greatest drop in mortality, then leafy greens, then fruit. Fruit juice, on the other hand, was shown to have no effect on mortality at all. For the purposes of the study, a serving was defined as three ounces. Importantly, the study's authors claim to have controlled for other factors that may have influenced the drop in mortality rate, such as exercise and alcohol consumption, which makes these results all the more significant.

Of course, as critics have been quick to point out, the study fails to address the fact that those who eat better are demonstrably more likely to be wealthy, and that, in itself, has been linked to lower mortality rates. And, as anyone who tries to regularly get their five servings knows, it takes a lot of willpower — and a lot of money — to hit that number, let alone exceed it. But, the most important takeaway here is that there seems to be a direct correlation between the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables you eat and your long-term health. So, even if you can't swing 10 servings a day, it's good to know that every little bit helps. (BBC)