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People only need Five Servings of Fruit, Veggies Per Day

Update Date: Jul 30, 2014 10:46 AM EDT

Just because fruits and vegetables are healthy, it does not mean that people have to eat them excessively. According to a new study, people only need five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Consuming more than this amount does not add any more health benefits.

In this study, researchers reviewed 16 studies that were conducted in the United States, Asia and Europe. Together, the studies involved more than 833,000 participants. During the follow-up portions of the studies, around 56,000 participants had died. The researchers examined the relationship between eating fruits and vegetables and premature mortality risk. They calculated that each serving of fruit or vegetable could cut the average death risk by five percent for up to five servings. Consuming a sixth serving will not cut death risk anymore.

"This analysis provides further evidence that a higher consumption of fruit and vegetables is associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality, particularly cardiovascular mortality," the researchers, headed by Professor Frank Hu, of Harvard School of Public Health, explained according to BBC News. "There was a threshold around five servings of fruit and vegetables a day, after which the risk of all cause mortality did not reduce further."

This study's findings contradict a recent recommendation from health experts that encouraged people to eat more than five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Despite the contradiction, experts concluded that eating fruits and vegetables is healthy in general. People should try to include these foods into their daily diet.

"This study is another reminder that fruit and vegetables shouldn't be an afterthought but an essential part of our meals and snacks. Although our five a day message is well established, worryingly 70% of adults are still not meeting this target," a senior dietitian from the British Heart Foundation, Victoria Taylor, commented according to HuffPost UK.

"It may seem like a difficult task, but it doesn't have to be. Whether it's banana with cereal for breakfast, salad in your lunchtime sandwich or swapping biscuits for fruit, there are lots of easy ways we can up our fruit and vegetable intake. Just remember that every extra portion you eat towards your five a day could help you keep your heart healthy."

The study, "Fruit and vegetable consumption and mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer: systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies," was published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

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