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posted: 4/8/2014 7:23 AM

When it Comes to Fruits and Vegetables, Volume Matters

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Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital

Does an apple a day keeps the doctor away? As it turns out, eating just one apple isn't nearly enough. A new study suggests people who eat up to seven servings of fruit and vegetables a day can cut their risk of death by 42 percent and that vegetables may be more important than fruit to your overall health.

The study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health,is the first to link fruit and vegetable consumption with all-cause, cancer and heart disease deaths. It is also the first to quantify the health benefits per serving, and the first to identify the types of fruit and vegetable that are most beneficial.

The clear finding was that eating more fresh fruit and vegetables, including salads, was linked to living a longer life. Eating at least seven servings was best, but each serving increase was associated with a lower risk of death.

The American Heart Association recommends for those consuming 1,600 to 2,000 calories should have four to five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. However, the average American consumes -- without counting potatoes -- just three servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

The research found those eating more fruits and vegetables had a 25 percent lower risk of cancer and 31 percent lower risk of heart disease or stroke. Vegetables seemed to offer significantly more protection against disease than eating fruit.

"We all try to eat more vegetables but this research pretty clearly states that even if you're eating an overall healthy diet, we all need to aim higher," saidDr. Philip Favia a family medicine physician employed by Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital. "So fill up on salad. Snack on raw carrots. And yes – eat that apple a day to keep the doctor away."

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