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How many vegetables a day? How much fruit? New study says 10.

Research shows that eating up to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day can significantly improve your health. A new meta-analysis published in the International Journal of Epidemiology looked at up to 2 million people in 95 studies worldwide and found that:

approximately 7.8 million premature deaths worldwide could be potentially prevented every year if people ate 10 portions, or 800 g, of fruit and vegetables a day.

That's about 1 3/4 pounds a day, easy on a plant-based diet. Read on for the risks avoided and the best fruits and vegetables to eat.

fruit salad

Does eating fruit and vegetables make you healthier? Yes!

The team was looking for the sweet spot in response the questions How many vegetables do I need a day? and How much fruit should I eat?  Was the classic 5-a-day enough, or would a different number of servings provide the maximum protection against disease and early death? Researchers found that every serving helped, but the top level looked at was the best. Compared to not eating any vegetables, eating 10 portions a day significantly reduces your risk:

  • Stroke: 33%
  • Dying prematurely: 31%
  • Cardiovascular disease: 28%
  • Heart disease: 24%
  • All cancers: 13%

What if you want to eat more that 10 servings? The researchers weren't able to evaluate this because the studies topped out at 10.

Which fruits and vegetables are best?

green beans and quinoa salad

The researchers also examined the studies to see which vegetables and fruits had the most beneficial impact. Here's what they found:

 foods that reduce risk of conditions    
stroke, early death, and
cardiovascular or heart disease    
green leafy vegetables excellent
cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and
other cruciferous vegetables
excellent excellent
apples, pears, and citrus fruit excellent  
salads and leafy green vegetables excellent  
green, yellow, and orange vegetables       excellent


The researchers recommended eating whole plant foods, not taking powders or pills.

Bottom line

Investing in fruits and vegetables can help you avoid the misery and expense of disease and early death. Focus on deep green, yellow, and orange vegetables, plus cabbage, cauliflower, apples, pears, and citrus fruit.

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