Veggies Top Fruits for Prolonging Life

Eating fresh vegetables -- like spinach - appears to be a key element to a longer life.

Eating seven or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day reduces people's risk of dying, a new study suggests.

The study also found that fresh vegetables may be slightly more protective than fresh fruit, and canned fruit may actually increase the risk of death.

Researchers analyzed information from more than 65,000 people in England ages 35 and older who answered questions about their eating habits.

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People who ate seven or more servings of fruits and vegetables were 42 percent less likely to die from any cause over a nearly eight-year period, compared with those who ate less than one serving a day. [6 Easy Ways to Eat More Fruits and Vegetables]

Eating fewer than seven servings was also beneficial, although the protective effect was not as strong: People who ate one to three servings were 14 percent less likely to die during the study; those who ate three to five servings were 29 percent less likely to die, and those who ate five to seven servings were 36 percent less likely to die, compared to people who ate less than one serving.

The findings held even after the researchers took into account factors that may affect people's risk of dying, such as cigarette smoking, body mass index and physical activity level.

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Although eating seven or more servings a day was linked with the most benefits, "People shouldn't feel daunted by a big target like seven," study researcher Oyinlola Oyebode, of the University of California, Los Angeles, said in a statement. "Whatever your starting point, it is always worth eating more fruit and vegetables."

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