Dr. Day is a cardiologist and Medical Director of Heart Rhythm Services at his practice in Salt Lake City, Utah. He graduated from Johns Hopkins Medical School and completed his residency and fellowship in cardiology at Stanford University. He is board certified in Cardiology and Cardiac Electrophysiology.
Why You Need 10 Servings of Fruits and Vegetables for a Longer Life
Most people only get two or three servings of fruits and vegetables each day. The U.S. government recommends five to nine servings daily. Could the real number be higher? In this article, I share the latest research as to why you need at least 10 servings of fruits and vegetables daily for a long and healthy life.
The 10 Servings Study
To find out exactly how many servings of fruits and vegetables you need each day, researchers from Imperial College London combed through the data from 95 studies involving 2,123,415 people. Their findings were shared in a recently published study.
Doing studies like this one can be very challenging. To make the results as accurate as possible, these researchers factored in everyone’s weight, quality of their diet, smoking status, and how much they exercised.
Of course, they couldn’t account for every variable. No study can. However, this study gives us good insight about what 10 servings of fruits and vegetables daily might do for you.
Results of the 10 Servings Study
Here are the 6 main findings from the more than two million people studied:
1. The more servings of fruits and vegetables you eat daily, the lower your risk of disease and an early death.
2. Maximum benefit comes from 10 or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
3. People eating at least 10 servings of fruits and vegetables enjoyed 28% less cardiovascular disease, 33% less strokes, 13% less cancer, and lived 31% longer when compared to those eating the least amount of fruits and vegetables.
4. The fruits which offered the most benefit included apples, pears, and citrus fruits. Surprisingly, berries didn’t quite make the cut off in this study.
5. The vegetables offering the most benefit included leafy greens, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, peppers, green beans, and spinach.
6. Eight million people die needlessly each year due to a lack of fruit and vegetables.
What is a serving size?
When it comes to fruit, one whole fruit or one cup of fruit, counts as a serving size. For vegetables, one cup of raw or cooked vegetables counts as one serving. For leafy greens, two cups count as one serving size.
Why are fruits and vegetables so protective?
As blog readers know, fruits and vegetables provide so much disease protection on so many different levels. For example, they lower your cholesterol and blood pressure. They protect you against weight gain and diabetes. They boost your immune system. They protect your DNA so that cancers don’t form. The list goes on and on.
How to Get 10 Servings of Fruits and Vegetables
While 10 servings a day of fruits and vegetables might seem like an insurmountable task, it is actually very doable. Personally, I now average somewhere around 15 servings a day, of which about 12 are vegetables. However, it wasn’t always this way for me.
Prior to my health turn around a few years back, I was lucky to eat four servings daily of fruits and vegetables. By replacing processed and sugary foods with fruits and vegetables, the weight melted away and one-by-one, my medical problems also went away.
The key is to make fruits and vegetables the main thing on your plate with every meal. Every meal also includes breakfast.
You have to start getting your fruits and vegetables with breakfast, otherwise you’ll never make it to 10 for the day. For most of my patients, a daily morning smoothie helps them to get started on the 10 servings.
You may need to build up to the “10” number. Take it slowly. If you’re not used to eating so much fiber, you may need to give your body time to adjust.
Also, don’t be afraid about adding in frozen fruits and vegetables. Depending on the time of the year, frozen can actually be healthier as fruits and vegetables are frozen when they are at their peak nutritional value.
Personally, I love frozen berries either plain or in a smoothie. If I am running short on time, I’ll often add some healthy curry sauce to frozen vegetables. The possibilities are endless.
Take Home Message
The main take away from this study is that most people need to significantly increase their fruit and vegetable intake to stay healthy and live a longer life. Based on the results of this study, it looks like the new daily target is 10 servings.
How close are you to the 10 daily serving target?
Disclaimer Policy: This website is intended to give general information and does not provide medical advice. This website does not create a doctor-patient relationship between you and Dr. John Day. If you have a medical problem, immediately contact your healthcare provider. Information on this website is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. Dr. John Day is not responsible for any losses, damages or claims that may result from your medical decisions.