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Eating Fruits, Vegetables, and Fats Associated With Lower Risk of Death

Two recent studies based on a wide-ranging data set suggest that following a diet that includes high fruit and vegetable intake and lower intake of carbohydrates may be associated with a lower risk of death.


Participants in the first study included 135,335 people between the ages of 35 and 70 who lived in 613 communities in 18 low-income, middle-income, and high-income countries in seven geographical regions: North America and Europe, South America, the Middle East, south Asia, China, southeast Asia, and Africa. None of the participants had cardiovascular disease. The researchers used food frequency questionnaires and standardized questionnaires to collect data about diet, demographic factors, socioeconomic status, lifestyle, health history and medication use, and family history of cardiovascular disease.


After examining the data, the researchers determined that people who consumed three to four servings of fruits, vegetables, and legumes per day were at the lowest risk of death. They also found that consuming a higher amount of fat was associated with a lower risk of death. In fact, all major types of fats — saturated fats, polyunsaturated fats and mono unsaturated fats — were associated with a lower risk of death and saturated fats were associated with a lower risk of stroke. Total fat and individual types of fat were not associated with risk of heart attack or death due to cardiovascular disease.


However, a diet high in carbohydrates was associated with a higher risk of death.


For the second study, researchers examined fruit, vegetable, and legume intake. They found that while most countries recommend at least five servings per day, the majority of people across the world consume approximately three to four servings daily. They also found that the lowest risk of death was associated with consuming three to four servings of fruit and vegetables, with the effect being higher for fruit than for vegetables. They also found that raw vegetables had a greater effect than cooked vegetables.


Researchers from McMaster University conducted the studies. They were published on August 29, 2017, in The Lancet.


Fruits and vegetables are packed with powerful antioxidants. The antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables have been linked with healthier looking skin, heart health benefits and healthier levels of cholesterol. This is often attributed to antioxidants and their ability to fight free radicals in the body. Adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet can be as simple as grabbing an apple as a snack or making sure you have a fruit or vegetable at every meal.

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