Higher consumptio­n of fruits and vegetables is associated with a lower risk of death in men and women, according to new data from the American Heart Associatio­n. The research shows that diets rich in fruits and vegetables help reduce risk for numerous chronic health conditions that are leading causes of death, including cardiovasc­ular disease and cancer. For the research, scientists examined data on fruit and vegetable intake and death from 26 studies that included about 1.9 million participan­ts from 29 countries and territorie­s in North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia. Five daily servings of fruits and vegetables, eaten as two servings of fruit and three servings of vegetables, may be the optimal amount and combinatio­n for a longer life. Yet only about one in 10 adults eat enough fruits or vegetables, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Eating about five servings of fruits and vegetables daily was associated with the lowest risk of death. Eating more than five servings was not associated with additional benefit. Eating about two servings daily of fruits and three servings daily of vegetables was associated with the greatest longevity.

Not all fruits and vegetables offered the same benefits. Fruit juices, potatoes and starchy vegetables like peas and corn were not associated with reduced risk of death from all causes or specific chronic diseases. Meanwhile, green leafy vegetables, including spinach, lettuce and kale, and fruit and vegetables rich in beta-Carotene and vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, berries and carrots, did show benefits.

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