The key to a long life? Vegetables – fresh ones!

For years now, the official recommendation in the USA has been to eat 7 to 13 servings of fruits and vegetables every day (7 for a 4 year old girl, 13 for a normally active young man). However, in the UK the recommendation is still the old-school “5 a day”.

But that is changing. “If you want to live longer, eat a lot more than 5”, say researchers in England.

That’s how many daily servings of fruits and vegetables you should eat, according to the Health Survey for England, to more effectively reduce your risk of dying from heart disease, cancer or any other cause.

It has long been known that eating plenty of fruits and vegetables every day is a vital part of a healthy lifestyle. This study, performed by researchers at University College London and published recently in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, is the first of its kind to look at a nationally representative sample and clearly link fruit and vegetable consumption with decreases in mortality from “all causes” and, specifically, from heart disease and cancer.

In the study, researchers examined the eating habits of 65,226 British people from 2001 to 2013 and found that, during the course of the study, the more daily servings of fruits and veggies a person ate, the less likely he or she was to die from heart disease, cancer or any cause. Those who ate seven or more servings a day experienced a 31 percent reduction in death from heart disease, a 25 percent reduction in death from cancer and a 42 percent reduction in death from any cause.

“This research clearly shows that there is no point in stopping at five a day. Seven or even 10 would save a lot more lives. It provides useful messages for public health practitioners and policy makers,” said Simon Capewell, Professor of Clinical Epidemiology at the University – who led the research.

Eating fewer servings of produce daily still had clear benefits, though not as pronounced as eating seven or more. For example, eating one to three servings a day resulted in a 14 percent reduction in death from any cause, eating three to five servings resulted in a 29 percent reduction in death, and five to seven daily servings reduced the risk of dying by 36 percent.

The researchers also adjusted their findings for factors such as age, sex, smoking status, body mass index, alcohol use and physical activity, suggesting that no matter what your health status or age, there are clear benefits to increasing your fruit and vegetable consumption.

The study also looked at the kind of produce that conferred the most health benefits, and fresh vegetables won hands down, with each daily portion of fresh veggies resulting in a 16 percent reduction in mortality, followed by salad conferring a 13 percent reduction with each daily portion and fresh fruit a distant third, with a 4 percent reduction in mortality.

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The study found no health benefit from fruit juice, and canned and frozen fruit actually appeared to increase the risk of death during the study, likely due to the high amounts of sugar in these products.

The lessons from this groundbreaking research are pretty clear. Vegetables are best, and the more, the better. Fresh fruit offers some benefits, though not as much as vegetables. However, for variety and enjoyment of your diet, they are a good choice.

In one of the more than 30 published studies of Juice Plus+, the MD Anderson Cancer Center demonstrated that adding Juice Plus+ and the Juice Plus+ Complete whole-food based shake mix helped ovarian cancer patients achieve a 10-a-day regimen of fruit and vegetable consumption, with significant health benefits resulting.