Most of us are well aware that not eating enough fruits and veggies can do some pretty awful things to our bodies. That’s why the World Health Organization currently recommends eating at least 400 grams of fruit, vegetables, and legumes (plants such as peas and beans) each day. And recent studies have suggested that as much as 800 grams can reduce your risk of stroke, heart disease, and premature death.
But take it easy! Scarfing down all that healthy grub might not be the answer, either. In fact, the latest research found that eating as little as 375 grams of fruits and vegetables—or around three servings—might be sufficient enough to reap their rewards.
The study, which was published in the journal Lancet, used data from more than 135,000 participants aged 25 to 70 years old from 18 different countries across the world. The participants answered questions regarding their dietary habits and frequency of eating various foods. Then, an international team of researchers spent 10 years tracking their health, checking in at least every three years.
Naturally, the data revealed that participants who ate a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, and legumes were less likely to die from non-cardiovascular diseases such as cancer. Their overall risk of death was lower, too. No surprises there.
But contrary to expectations, the team found the greatest health benefits didn’t go to those who ate the most fruits and vegetables. Instead, consuming between 375 grams and 500 grams a day was enough to reduce overall risk of death by 22 percent compared with eating less than 125 grams a day. Participants who ate more than 500 grams did not reduce their risk of death any further than that. (Thankfully, you only need to eat this one fruit to protect your brain from aging.)
Don’t swap your peaches and plums for pizza just yet, though. Given the international context of this study, these results are more beneficial for those in low-income countries—not North America or Europe, the researchers said.
“In western countries like North America and Europe we don’t want to suggest that [people] should start eating less fruit and vegetables – we think that it is part of an overall healthy diet and there is benefit from eating more,” said Victoria Miller, first author of the research from McMaster University in Canada.
On the bright side, it looks like now you have no excuse not to chow down on all of these antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables.
[Source: The Guardian]