How Do Fruits and Veggies Love Us? Let Us Count the Ways — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
July 30, 2014

How Do Fruits and Veggies Love Us? Let Us Count the Ways

By Christine Sadlowski

Edited by David G. Fairchild, MD, MPH

The oft-cited five servings per day of fruits and vegetables was the optimal amount for limiting overall and cardiovascular mortality, but not cancer mortality, in a BMJ meta-analysis.

Culling data from 16 prospective, observational studies conducted since 1950, researchers found that the more fruits and vegetables people consumed each day (up to five total servings), the lower the risk for all-cause mortality. (A serving was defined as roughly 80 g, or 2.8 oz., of fruit or vegetable.)

In particular, for consumption of five servings versus no servings daily, the hazard ratio was 0.74 for all-cause mortality. Two servings of fruit and three of vegetables appeared to provide optimal benefits. In addition, each fruit or vegetable serving was associated with a 4% reduction in cardiovascular mortality. There was no significant association with cancer mortality.

Reader Comments (3)

Alan Rosenthal Physician

All physicians should read "The China Study" by Dr. Colin and Dr. Thomas Campbell. This 40 year study funded by the NIH and well annotated by the evidence based medical literature, indicates that the reduction of all disease mortality has been shown to be a "whole food plant based diet".

Fred Pollack Other, Other, Retired

W.r.t. Dr. Palermo’s comment:

Note that this meta-analysis suggests 5 servings of fruit and vegetables combined, e.g. about 2.5 servings each. It is easy to get more than double this amount. Here is one way:

Here is how to get 6 servings of veggies plus 6 servings of fruit into one day, without trying very hard.
1st veggies.
Have a salad for lunch consisting of:

Each of these count as 1 serving:
0.6 cup of chopped carrots
0.5 cup of tomato slices
0.75 cup of chopped celery
0.5 cup of chopped sweet red peppers
And, each of these count as 1/2 serving:
1 cup Radicchio (or some kind of lettuce, e.g. romaine)
0.4 cup of chopped scallions (green onions)
Suggest you add 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts, 1/2 cup of beans, and drizzle an aged sweet balsamic vinegar.

With dinner, have:
0.6 cup of boiled kale (or some other dark leafy green)

6 servings of fruit
1/2 medium (3" dia) apple with skin
1/2 cup of blueberries - 1 serving
1 kiwifruit (2” diameter)
0.5 cup of orange sections (i.e. about 1/2 an orange)
1 plum
0.5 cup sweet red cherries

For breakfast, mix blueberries into oatmeal. Also, eat 1 kiwi. (2 servings)

For mid-morning snack, on one day have a whole apple, on another a whole banana. (2 servings)
For mid-afternoon snack, have a plum. (1 serving)

After dinner, have 0.5 cup of sweet red cherries mixed or 0.5 cup of orange sections. (1 serving)

Gregory Palermo, MD Physician, Pathology, Retired

Five 2.8 ounce servings of fruit per day comes up to just shy of a pound, a large quantity for some vegetables. I easily consume a pound of cherries at one sitting. A pound of lettuce would be a challenge. Difficult to comprehend that there is an equivalence there.

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