(NaturalHealth365) A relatively new study provides further confirmation of something most of us know already: that fruits and vegetables are extremely good for you. The Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology study (PURE) has shown that eating just three to four portions of fruits and vegetables – per day – improves heart health and reduces the risk of early death.
The researchers noted that although nutritional status and health outcomes have been investigated extensively in Europe, the USA, Japan, and China, little or no data has really been available from the Middle East, South America, Africa, or south Asia. (until now)
Fruits and vegetables contain compounds crucial to health and nutrition
Past studies had shown that around a double portion – 800 g per day of fruits and vegetables – was required to reap significant health effects such as reduced risk of heart disease and stroke. Yet, the present recommendations of fruits and vegetables by the World Health Organization (WHO) is around 400 g per day – which (WHO admits) most people fail to consume on a daily basis.
However, the new research indicates that as little as 375 g of fruits and vegetables (as well as legumes) per day can help keep these diseases at bay while also reducing the risk of premature death. (note: a portion of fruits and vegetables is considered around 100 g.)
The PURE study features data from 135,335 participants from 613 communities in 18 countries and in a range of income brackets. Geographical regions included North America, Europe, the Middle East, South America, Asia and Africa.
The ‘right combination’ of fruits and vegetables found to be most effective
The participants were between 35 and 70 years of age and enrolled in the study for a 10-year period starting in 2003. And, they all completed questionnaires related to health and their diet.
At the outset, none of the participants had heart disease. Then, they were followed for between 5.5 and 9.3 years and underwent a health check-up at least once every three years.
During follow up, there were a total of 4,784 major heart disease events reported. In addition, there were 1,649 heart disease deaths out of 5,796 total deaths.
The study results showed that consuming both fruits and vegetables significantly reduced the risk of diseases like heart disease, stroke and cancers. And, naturally (as a result), the risk of premature death was also reduced.
Interestingly, fruit consumption (alone) brought a lower risk of premature death due to heart disease. Raw vegetable intake was linked with a generally lower death risk and was more significant than cooked veggies.
However, the most significant health impact was found in those persons who ate a combination of both.
More motivation to favor fruits and vegetables on a daily basis…
Death risk was reduced by 22 percent when compared with persons who ate 125 g or less of fruits and vegetables per day.
Eating more than 500 g of fruits and vegetables per day showed no appreciable reduction in the risk of early death; however, eating more of these nutrient-infused foods can boost health in many other (obvious) ways, like greater energy and mental well-being.
Ultimately, the researchers are particularly excited that persons in lower income brackets will be able to boost their health easily and affordably. For those curious, this study was published in the journal Lancet and made no distinction between organic and non-organic varieties of food.
Sources for this article include:
Food & Nutrition
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