Health & wellness

No benefit to eating more than five daily servings of produce, study suggests

No benefit to eating more than five daily servings of produce, study suggests

The US government recommends that American adults eat 5 to 13 servings of fruits and vegetables depending on your age, gender, and activity level, but a new Harvard School of Public Health study suggests we don’t get additional health benefits if we eat more than five servings a day.

After analyzing 16 studies involving 833,000 participants who filled out dietary surveys, the researchers from Harvard and China discovered that each daily serving of produce was associated with a 5 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease or cancer during the studies, which lasted up to 25 years. Eating five servings a day, for example, lowered the risk of dying by 25 percent — but so did eating six or seven servings, according to the results published last Tuesday in the British Medical Journal.

“The reduction in mortality plateaued at five [servings] a day, and five a day is a good target to achieve maximum health benefits in reducing mortality,” said study coauthor Frank Hu, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, via e-mail from China.

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Is there any harm to over-indulging on the kale, celery, and sliced strawberries?

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Likely not, since the research didn’t find any negative health effects in those who ate six or more servings a day, according to Hu.

Still, it’s a smart move to “diversify plant-based foods,” he said, adding nuts, legumes, and whole grains to salads to get a wider range of nutrients. D.K.

Deborah Kotz can be reached at dkotz@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @debkotz2.