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Veggies Boost Longevity More Than Fruits

Update Date: Apr 01, 2014 05:01 PM EDT

Eating seven or more daily servings of fruits and veggies may help promote longevity, according to a new study.

British Researchers at the University College London analyzed the eating habits of 65,226 people in England between 2001 and 2013. They found that people who are seven or more portions of fruits and vegetables a day were 42 percent less likely to die at any point in time compared to those who ate less than one portion a day.

The study also revealed that people were less likely to diet at any age as their consumption of fruits and vegetables increased.

The findings show that eating the risk of death was decreased by 36 percent with five to seven portions, 29 percent with three to five portions and 14 percent with one to three portions.

While the study didn't prove causation, researchers said that it revealed a strong link between fresh produce consumption and lower death risk.

The study also revealed that eating seven or more portions of fruits and vegetables cut the risk of death by cancer and heart disease by 25 percent and 31 percent respectively.

Researchers also found that vegetables provided more health benefits than fruits. The study revealed that each daily portion of fresh vegetables decreased the overall death risk by 16 percent, compared with 13 percent per portion of salad and 4 percent per portion of fresh fruit.

"We all know that eating fruit and vegetables is healthy, but the size of the effect is staggering," lead author Dr. Oyinlola Oyebode of UCL's Department of Epidemiology & Public Health at UCL, said in a university release.

"The clear message here is that the more fruit and vegetables you eat, the less likely you are to die at any age. Vegetables have a larger effect than fruit, but fruit still makes a real difference.  If you're happy to snack on carrots or other vegetables, then that is a great choice but if you fancy something sweeter, a banana or any fruit will also do you good," she explained.

Researchers noted that the study revealed no significant health benefit from fruit juice. In fact, each portion of canned or frozen fruits appeared to increase death risk by 17 percent, according to researchers.

"Most canned fruit contains high sugar levels and cheaper varieties are packed in syrup rather than fruit juice," Oyebode explained. "The negative health impacts of the sugar may well outweigh any benefits. Another possibility is that there are confounding factors that we could not control for, such as poor access to fresh groceries among people who have pre-existing health conditions, hectic lifestyles or who live in deprived areas."

The findings are published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.

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