It’s no surprise that you should fill your plate with fruits and vegetables. But even if you’ve been good about fitting them into your diet, you could probably still stand to add more to your dish. That’s because the more fruits and vegetables you eat, the less susceptible you are to multiple health problems—and an earlier death, a new study in the International Journal of Epidemiology suggests.
In the study, researchers analyzed 95 studies of two million people on the link between diet and coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and general mortality. They found that people who consumed 200 grams—or 2.5 servings—of fruits and vegetables per day were less prone to all four of these issues.
Their risks were lowered by 16 percent for heart disease, 18 percent for stroke, 13 percent for cardiovascular disease, four percent for cancer, and 15 percent for premature death. A baseball-sized fruit or half-cup of vegetables counts as a serving.
But consuming four times as much—or about 10 servings a day—was even better. People who ate 800 grams per day saw reductions of 24 percent for heart disease, 33 percent for stroke, 28 percent for cardiovascular disease, 13 percent for cancer, and 31 percent for premature death.
So, though the government recommends 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, meeting a 10-serving minimum could prevent 7.8 million deaths worldwide each year, according to the study.