A new large study confirms that increased intakes of fruits and vegetables can decrease the risk of all-cause mortality, and especially the risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease.
The observational study analyzed fruit and vegetable consumption of 451,151 participants and documented death cases for over 13 years (1). The study results showed that a combined fruit and vegetable consump- tion of more than 569 grams per day reduced the risk of all-cause mortality by 10% and delayed the risk of death by 1.12 years, compared to a consumption of less than 249 grams per day. Furthermore, for every 200 gram increase in daily fruit and vegetable consumption, the mortality risk fell by 6%. The proportion of deaths that could be prevented, if the participants who ate not enough fruit and vegetables increased their consumption by 100–200 grams per day – thus reaching the recommended 400–500 grams per day – was 2.9%. A diet rich in fruit and vegetables reduced the risk of death from cardiovascular disease by 15%.
Furthermore, more than 4% of deaths due to cardiovascular disease could have been prevented by consum- ing more than 400 grams of fruit and vegetables a day. Considering fruit consumption separately, no signifi- cant risk reduction was observed, whereas vegetable consumption alone was associated with a lower risk of mortality, which was even more significant for raw vegetables: high consumption reduced the risk of mort- ality by 16%. The mortality risk reduction due to fruit and vegetable consumption was greater in those participants who consumed alcohol (around 30–40% risk reduction), who were obese (20%), and potentially also in those who smoked.
The researchers commented that there is now sufficient evidence of the beneficial effect of fruit and veget- able consumption in the prevention of chronic diseases. For this reason, one of the most effective prevent- ative measures is promoting their consumption in the population. Although, with regard to cancer mortality, no statistically significant risk reduction was found, thus it will be necessary to assess this according to specific types of cancer. The scientists further said it is to be expected that adequate fruit and vegetable consumption will also have a positive effect on mortality caused by these tumors. According to the research- ers, the fact that participants with an unhealthy lifestyle benefited most may be probably due to their high antioxidant intakes, which mitigates the oxidative stress caused by alcohol, tobacco and obesity.