Why You Should Eat Five Servings of Fruits & Vegetables Each Day

When was the last time you kept track of the servings of fruits and vegetables you ate in a day? Take a moment to think back to what you ate yesterday. Did you have some fruit with breakfast? Order a salad for lunch or scoop up extra green beans with dinner? We all know that fruits and vegetables are good for our health, but researchers have found that having five servings a day can do wonders – specifically in reducing the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer. Count them up. Are you getting enough? It may be time to start keeping track.

The review and analysis of studies looking into the link between fruit and vegetable consumption and mortality was recently published in The British Medical Journal (BMJ). In all, researchers combed through 16 studies with more than 800,000 participants. Those who consumed more fruits and vegetables, researchers found, had a significantly reduced risk of death from most causes. For every additional serving of fruits and vegetables, participants had a five percent lower risk of overall death and four percent lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease. However, they found that magic number to be five servings a day. Participants who consumed more than five servings did not reap any further health benefits.

As TIME magazine points out, “this contradicts another recent study published in The BMJ’s Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health that suggested seven or more daily portions of fruits and vegetables were linked to lowest risk of death.” The cause for confusion could lie in the classification of fruits and vegetables, as well as human error when it came to reporting eating habits, they say.

Add more fruits and vegetables to your diet

If you’re not already getting five servings a day, here are some simple ways to add another serving with each meal. As with any lifestyle change, you will only be successful if your goal is obtainable and sustainable. Make choices that best fit your lifestyle and diet preferences.

Start with Breakfast

  • Top oatmeal with sliced bananas
  • Spread mashed avocados on toast
  • Add frozen berries to a yogurt smoothie

Snack on It

  • Sliced apples with peanut butter
  • Bell peppers dipped in humus
  • Cold cucumber slices with Greek yogurt dip

Lunch It

  • Add a handful of spinach to a wrap
  • Top a salad with grated carrots
  • Swap chips for broccoli florets

Finish with Dinner

  • Add a cup of kale to a bowl of soup
  • Top thinly sliced zucchini pasta with favorite sauce
  • Go sweet and crispy with homemade banana chips

For information on healthy diets and other health topics, check out our resources page.