Medical researchers studying the effects of fruit and vegetable consumption on the body have arrived at differing opinions. A report released by the BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal) found that five helpings of produce per day is effective to decrease death risk from heart disease and all other conditions. The study, released July 30, found no positive results with any portions over five, contrasting with a study published in early 2014 that suggested seven portions were necessary for optimal health.

There is a general consensus among nutrition experts that vegetables and fruits help to lower vulnerability to cardiovascular conditions and other disorders. However, the specific quantity that is considered best has been a matter of debate.

National governments across the globe provide different advice to their citizens regarding the amount of produce that is ideal: the United States recommends five helpings total (fruits and vegetables), while Australia advises adults to consume five vegetable portions along with two fruit portions. It’s possible that the lower numbers in the US are due to the obesity epidemic, with federal scientists prioritizing weight loss over concerns of high quantities of veggies.

The nutrition study that conflicts with the newly released one appeared in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. It argued that seven helpings were best, while this new effort – by a team of Chinese and American scientists – concluded that number was unnecessarily high.

Five or seven – which is the true ideal?

The study released in July was a literature review: 16 previously published studies were analyzed, encompassing a grand total of over 800,000 patients. Between zero and five fruits and vegetables, the researchers determined that each additional portion reduced mortality associated with all diseases. As each portion was added (up to five), the scientists observed an astonishing improvement in general health: a 5% lower overall mortality rate, with a 4% decline specifically for cardiovascular disorders.

Once the study reached five servings, it diverged from the outcomes of the previous 2014 report. With the additional sixth and seventh portions, the researchers concluded that the impact on mortality rate was insignificant.

The July study not only conflicted with the study recommending seven portions but also with recommendations by the American Cancer Society (ACS). The ACS currently advises adults to consume at least five fruit and vegetable portions daily, but this new study’s findings revealed that eating more produce does little to prevent cancer. The researchers recommended that weight loss and exercise, combined with alcohol and tobacco cessation, should instead be the focuses for cancer avoidance.

Seeking nutrition and weight loss counsel

This study’s 5% mortality rate reduction renders the truism that fruits and veggies are good for us even more compelling. However, the most extraordinary finding is that produce can’t prevent cancer, suggesting that weight loss and other tactics should be used instead. If you need medical weight loss, get relief today with a customized, multidisciplinary plan through Weston Medical.


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