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Fruits vs Vegetables: Which of These Healthy Foods Have More Benefits?

Harold Mandel's picture
Fresh veggies and fruit

There has been a great deal of discussion over the years about the impressive health benefits of eating fruit and vegetables. The finding that diets high in fruit and vegetables can prevent and help in the treatment of cancer has received a particularly large amount of attention. Recent research has shown that the health benefits of eating a lot of these foods is even greater than previously thought.

Governments worldwide have been recommending daily consumption of fruit and vegetables, reports the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. Researchers have found fruit and vegetable consumption was associated significantly lowered all-cause mortality.

It was observed that fruit and vegetable consumption was associated with less cancer and cardiovascular mortality. It also appears vegetables may have a stronger association with mortality than fruit does. Consumption of vegetables or salad were the most protective. Frozen/canned fruit consumption was apparently associated with increased mortality. It has been concluded that there is a significant inverse association between fruit and vegetable consumption and mortality, with the benefits seen in up to 7 or more portions daily.

The researchers found that eating seven or more portions of fruit and vegetables daily lowers your risk of death at any point in time by 42 percent in comparison to eating less than one portion, reports University College London on April 1, 2014. The researchers used the Health Survey for England in order to study the eating habits of 65,226 people who were representative of the English population between 2001 and 2013.

It was discovered that the more fruit and vegetables these people ate, the less likely they were to die at any age. Consumption of seven or more portions lowers the specific risks of death by cancer and heart disease by 25 percent and 31 percent respectively. It was also observed that vegetables have markedly higher health benefits than fruit.

This was a groundbreaking study. It is the first study which has linked eating fruit and vegetables with all-cause, cancer and heart disease deaths in a nationally-representative population. This is also the first study to quantify health benefits per-portion of fruit and vegetables. Furthermore, this is the first study which has identified the types of fruit and vegetables which have the most benefit.

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In comparison to eating less than one portion of fruit and vegetables, the risk of death by any cause is decreased as follows:

1: 14 percent by eating one to three portions

2: 29 percent for three to five portions

3: 36 percent for five to seven portions

4: 42 percent for seven or more portions

This study, which has been published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, observed that fresh vegetables had the strongest protective effect. Each daily portion of fresh vegetables reduces overall risk of death by 16 percent. There is a 13 percent per portion lowered risk with salads. There was a smaller but still significant 4 percent reduction with each portion of fresh fruit. The finding that vegetables are even better for your health than fruit gives support to the Australian government’s ‘Go for 2 + 5’ guidelines. These guidelines recommend eating two portions of fruit and five of vegetables daily. The key message in the USA is now "Veggies and Fruit – More Matters".

I have observed an increased awareness developing among people regarding the beneficial impact of healthy nutrition for good health. In particular there has been a great deal of interest in the value of consuming vegetables and fruit to help prevent and treat cancer. The finding that eating these foods is associated with a lowered all-cause mortality is very significant. I suggest that this information be aggressively shared with the public by physicians and other health care practitioners. The message should be driven home that when it comes to vegetables and fruit eating more really does matter.