Aim for “10” When It Comes to this Daily Nutrition Habit

Posted 04/18/2017 | By HealthCorps

Most Americans probably don’t focus on how many servings of fruits and vegetables they eat daily.  Grab a banana and apple on the go, maybe an occasional fruit smoothie, maybe a glass of juice and they assume they have hit a major health goal.  A new analysis of 95 studies suggests that there is a very finite amount of fruits and vegetables that you need to consume daily in order to (likely) reap the benefits of “lowest risk of disease and premature death.”

The analysis showed that hitting a goal of ten servings of fruits and vegetables daily (variety is better) with an emphasis on apples, pears, green, leafy vegetables and cruciferous vegetables.  Current recommendations suggest a goal of two servings of fruit and three servings of vegetables daily to help to reduce risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer and other lifestyle-related diseases.

The report published in the International Journal of Epidemiology involved looking at studies involving nearly 2 million participants.  Data collected reflected 43,000 cases of heart disease, 47,000 strokes, 81,000 of CVD disease and 94,000 deaths.  The researchers looked at specific data from the 95 studies to see how the number of servings of fruits and vegetables daily correlated with disease risk or the lack of it.

Ten portions daily were associated with a 33 percent lower risk of disease and death.  Portions vary depending on the fruit or vegetable.  A fruit portion is the equivalent of 80 grams and would be the equivalent of a small banana, pear or apple.  Three heaping tablespoons of a vegetable like peas would qualify as a serving.  Peas, corn and potatoes are dense, starchy vegetables, so portions tend to be a bit smaller.

Compared with eating no fruits or vegetables, eating 200 grams or about two and a half portions, already offered some health benefits – a 15 percent reduced risk of premature death.  In this case, however “more was better.”  The individuals who consumed about 800 grams of combined fruits and vegetables offered a 33 percent reduced risk of stroke, a 28 percent reduced risk of CVD, a 24 percent lower risk of heart disease and a 13 percent reduced risk of developing cancer risk.

The study did not delve into the mechanism behind these findings, but researchers suggests that higher consumption of produce is associated with lower levels of cholesterol and better immune function and blood vessel patency.  Fruits and vegetables are also high in antioxidants which may help to reduce or limit DNA damage.

So aim for “daily ten” when it comes to this health habit!!!

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