According to the health experts, a balanced and healthy diet consists of all the essential nutrient-rich foods including fruits, vegetables, dairy products, grains, and proteins. Recently, a study conducted by a team of researchers from Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston reflects on the current dietary guidelines.
The findings of this study appeared in the journal Circulation.
According to this study, consuming 3 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruits on a daily basis can lower the risk of fatal diseases and death due to these diseases. The existing guidelines recommend that every half of a meal should consist of vegetables and fruits. Meanwhile, nearly 80 percent individuals of the US do not follow these guidelines for a healthy diet. Therefore, researchers suggest that Americans should add these nutrient-rich foods to their diet.
The findings of this recent study show that an increase in the intake of vegetables and fruits lowers the death risk due to several diseases including cancer, respiratory illness, and heart disease. Moreover, the researchers found that the maximum benefits are gained at the limit of 5 servings of these foods. Beyond this limit, there are no apparent benefits to the health of the body.
The results show that the increased intake of fruits and vegetables increases the level of antioxidants in the body and potassium intake. Consequently, this helps improve the functioning of the lungs and lower blood pressure as well. Since this study is observational and the participants reported their data themselves, there may be some level of misinformation.
The researchers observed that the people who took a healthy diet rich in beta carotene and Vitamin C from leafy green foods had a lower risk of death. Some of the vegetables and fruits rich in these nutrients include citrus fruits, spinach, and kale. However, they did not observe these particular benefits from fruit juices or vegetables high in starch content. These vegetables include staples such as peas and potatoes. The researchers also suggest that canning foods such as peas can deprive these foods of their multiple health benefits. This process may eradicate the antioxidant properties of canned starchy vegetables.
According to the researchers, intake of fruit juices can quickly raise the level of sugar in the blood. Therefore, they recommend taking whole fruit instead of the juice. The current guidelines recommend the intake of fruit juices and canned vegetables and fruits. However, the recent study does not show any benefits from these foods. Also, they call for further research to investigate the benefits.
Even though this study shows generous data, there are some limitations to the findings. In this study, the researchers did not implement a healthy diet with variable factors on the participants. On the contrary, it was an observational study that showed the effects of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables on the participants. Meanwhile, there are numerous sources of evidence that highlight the importance of these foods in a diet. This recent study suggests taking at least 5 portions of fruits and vegetables to maintain the health of the body and achieve a longer life.