What is better for you to eat…fruits or vegetables?
The simple answer is that they both are good for you, of course. Although the risk of developing chronic diseases is reduced with the increased intake of these foods, the overall benefit to your health may be indistinguishable.
It also depends on what you mean by “better to eat.”
Few research studies have actually looked at the effects that each type of food group has upon human health. However, a newly released report exploring the link between vegetable and fruit consumption and the risk of death has just been published.
In this study, researchers in England followed a group of 65,226 adults and accessed their diet and medical data for 12 years. After the follow-up period, they found that the participants who consumed the highest amounts of fruits and vegetables were much less likely to die from any cause at any age compared with those who ate the least amounts of fruit and vegetables.
The Magic Number
To be precise, the researchers found that consuming at least seven servings of fruits and vegetables every day could decrease the risk of death by a whopping 42% compared with others who consumed less than one portion per day.
The results of this study also indicated that those who consumed seven servings of fruit and vegetables per day were also 25% less likely to die from cancer and 31% less likely to die from heart disease. Although this information has been corroborated by other research findings, some new information was gleaned from this research.
And the Winner is…
It was discovered that the intake of vegetables by the participants had a greater impact on health outcomes than fruit did.
The combined intake of fruits and vegetables reduced the risk of death in a dose-dependent manner. In this case, those participants who consumed one to three servings reduced their risk of death from any cause by 14%. The intake of three to five servings was associated with a reduction of death by 29%, the intake of five to seven servings was associated with a risk reduction of 36% and those who ate seven or more servings of fruit and vegetables experienced a 42% risk reduction.
In this study, the intake of fresh vegetables had the greatest impact upon the study outcome with each serving of vegetables providing a 16% reduced risk of death from any cause. Fresh salad also had a significant effect at risk reduction with a 13% risk reduction per portion. The intake of fresh fruit also had a significant effect but less so than vegetables. Each portion of fresh fruit was associated with a four percent risk reduction.
“We all know that eating fruit and vegetables is healthy, but the size of the effect is staggering,” said Dr. Oyinlola Oyebode, lead author of the study. “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.”
I am not sure if this is clear proof that vegetables are better than fruit, but for optimal health you need to eat each to get the full benefits.
ScienceDaily web site; http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140331194030.htm, last accessed April 1, 2014.
Oyebode, O., et al., “Fruit and vegetable consumption and all-cause, cancer and CVD mortality: analysis of Health Survey for England data,” J Epidemiol Community Health doi: 10.1136/jech-2013-203500.