It’s official…fruits and vegetables are good for you! Perhaps not really “news” to all our healthy DNN readers but Dutch researchers have yet again confirmed the ultimate benefit of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables…you simply live longer! This, hot on the heels of a similar but smaller study reported on in August, solidifies what we already know but tend to do nothing about. Fruits and vegetables look beautiful, smell good and taste delicious so the added bonus of increased longevity should make them even more appealing. But, sadly, recent figures suggest two-thirds of Americans (approximate 200 million people) are not consuming enough of these health-promoting foods.

The large epidemiological study conducted by researchers from the University Medical Center in Utrecht followed nearly half a million people from ten European countries that were enrolled between the years 1992 and 2000. By the year 2010, 25,682 deaths had been reported among these study participants with 41% due to cancer and 20% from cardiovascular disease. Overall, analysis revealed a 10% reduction in mortality for the top 25% vs the bottom 25% of fruit and vegetable consumers. In fact for every 200g of daily produce consumed mortality risk was reduced by 6%. When cardiovascular disease was considered on its own, a fruit and vegetable-rich diet was associated with a 15% reduction in mortality; if the vegetables were raw it was even higher! Interestingly, there were even more pronounced effects in unhealthy people – alcohol users exhibited a 30-40% reduction while the obese had a 20% reduction.

Not been as healthy in your food choices as you’d like? Well, the good news is it’s never too late to change your habits.  Eating healthy after age 70 may boost your chances of reaching your 80th birthday by as much as 24%. Remember, diet is only half of the equation. Exercise matters as well – exercising just 45 min/day can in fact make your DNA look biologically younger!

Published October 1, 2013