Eating more produce reduces chronic disease risk and improves quality of life, is among the results of a wide – ranging review of research on fruits and vegetables and how consuming them affects health outcomes. The research was commissioned by The Produce for Better Health Foundation.
Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition published the paper recently. Taylor Wallace, a professor in the department of nutrition and food studies at George Mason University, was the lead author. Wallace is also the acting chief food and nutrition scientist for PBH. Wallace led a group of 13 nutrition scientists on the review project.
“Our findings confirm that eating at least five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day has benefits far beyond providing basic nutritional requirements,” Wallace said in a news release. “Increasing fruit and vegetable intake not only helps to ward off chronic disease but also extends both life expectancy and quality.”
The scientists reviewed nearly 100 studies in an effort to summarize the benefits of produce as supported by research. The review will also inform future research priorities and public health messaging strategies.
The group of authors found eating at least 5 servings of produce daily can meaningfully reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. They also found there are “hundreds of fiber structures in fruits and vegetables that support the good bacteria in the gut, which scientists are increasingly recognizing as integral to overall health.”
Research also showed produce supports eye and bone health and may help prevent a range of diseases, including certain cancers.
Another conclusion was all forms of fruits and vegetables offer “generally consistent nutritional benefits” that can improve health quality.
“The time is now for industry stakeholders across the produce supply chain, as well as health professionals, food influencers, chefs, scientists, thought leaders and other advocates, to work together and inspire Americans to eat more fruits and vegetables,” Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, president and CEO of PBH, said in the release. “We’re committed to providing Americans with smart strategies to enjoy more fruits and vegetables every day for happy, healthy and active lives.”