One of the largest studies of links between diet and heart disease was recently completed. The results were very clear: people who consume more fruits and vegetables have a lower risk of dying from heart disease.
Most readers already suspected that. But what makes this study great is that it shows exactly how many fruit and vegetables you need and exactly the degree of protection against heart disease you’ll get for your efforts.
The study—known as EPIC, or European Prospective investigation into Cancer and Nutrition– showed that people who ate at least eight 3-ounce portions of fruit and vegetables a day had a 22% lower risk of dying from heart disease than did those who consumed fewer than three portions. (A portion is roughly equivalent to a small banana, a medium apple, or a carrot.
According to the lead researcher, Dr. Francesca Crowe, every additional portion of fruit or vegetables above 2 a day reduced your risk of dying from heart disease by 4%.
Each and every portion.
(A related study found that every two servings of total fruits and veggies also reduces the incidence of cancer by 4%.)
Think about that for a sec. If there was a pill with no side effects that you could pop a bunch of times a day and every time you took one your risk for dying dropped 4% would you take it?
In this study—which by the way included 300,000 people in eight different European countries—a person who ate 3 portions a day of veggies or fruits was 4% less likely to die over the course of the study than someone who ate 2 portions; and those 4%’s keep adding up, all the way up to 8 portions a day.
The researchers found that the average intake of fruit and vegetables was five portions a day; people in Greece, Italy and Spain ate more, and those in Sweden ate less.
That means, if you’re consuming five a day, you could lower your risk of dying from heart disease a hefty 12% more just by adding three more servings of vegetables a day. (And those are small servings we’re talking about!)
Sir Michael Marmot head of the UCL Department of Epidemiology and Public Health writes “There would need to be big shift in dietary patterns to achieve this healthy consumption of eight portions a day. It is worth trying to move in that direction.”