Over the years, health officials have been trying to drive home the message that eating fruits such melons and apricots plus vegetables like peppers, carrots and spinach is a vital element of any healthy plan.

Incorporating the recommended five-a-day servings of fruit and vegetables extends life and reduces the risk of premature death, claims a new study.

Catherine Collins, chief dietician at St George’s Hospital, London, said: “If you eat the right amount of fruit and vegetables you seem to have a longer life.”

A 13-year study
In a bid to investigate the link between healthy eating and overall mortality, researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm conducted a study. The Swedish team tracked 71,706 men and women volunteers aged between 45 and 83 for 13 years. The study subjects furnished information pertaining to their daily consumption of fruits and vegetables.

Revelations of the study
A follow-up at 13 years documented 11, 439 deaths. The analysis revealed volunteers who consumed less than the recommended five-day quota of fruits and veggies had shorter survival and higher mortality rates as opposed to those with higher intake.

It was noted that people eating hardly any fruit or vegetables exhibited a 53 percent higher mortality rate and died an average of 37 months before subjects who followed the five-a-day message.

When fruits and vegetables were taken separately, experts found people enjoying at least three portions of vegetables everyday lived at least 32 months longer than those who avoided them. On the other hand, subjects who never ate fruits cut their life span by 19 months compared to those who relished at least one helping of fruit daily.

The study failed to find any additional benefit on longevity from more than five a day consumption of the healthy food. Though, the study did not examine causes of death, heart disease is thought to be a big risk of a diet sans fresh plant foods.

Victoria Taylor of the British Heart Foundation, said, “Try adding fresh or dried fruit to your cereal or having an apple instead of your mid-morning biscuit. Stick some salad in your lunchtime sandwich and always have some vegetables with your evening meal.”

The results of the study are published online in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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