Optimal Fruit and Vegetable Intake for Longevity Determined by a Study

Fact checked

By Agata P. | Updated: Nov 29, 2023

Optimal Fruit and Vegetable Intake for Longevity Determined by a Study
General Information
  • 01 Mar 2021
  • United States of America
  • Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health
  • Wang, D. et al
  • Cohort study
  • 108,735 adults
  • 30 years

Fruits and vegetables are an important part of human diet, providing the necessary macro- and macronutrients our bodies use to function properly.1

While most people feel they should be eating more fruits and vegetables, there are considerate variations in dietary guidelines around the world on how much is enough to reap the health benefits from their consumption.

The purpose of this 2021 study was to determine the optimal intake of fruits and vegetables for health maintenance and disease prevention.

The Study

This study was conducted by the researchers from Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, MA. They shared their findings in the Circulation journal of the American Heart Association.

Researchers followed the participants from two large cohort studies: the Nurses' Health Study (66,719 women) and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (42,016 men), both of which took place over the span of about 30 years.

They analyzed people's dietary habits and mortality cases not only from the aforementioned studies, but also from 24 other prospective cohort studies.

The Results

Researchers found that eating fruits and vegetables is inversely associated with mortality (both, total mortality and mortality due to cancer, cardiovascular disease, and respiratory diseases). This means that higher fruits and vegetable intakes were linked to lower mortality rates.

They also determined that eating 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day (2 servings of fruits and 3 servings of vegetables) resulted in the lowest mortality rates.

Interestingly, eating more than 5 servings per day does not seem to offer additional health benefits.

Moreover, researchers pointed that that eating starchy vegetables (e.g., peas, potatoes, and corn) as well as drinking fruit juices had no beneficial effects on mortality rates.

What Does this Mean?

This Harvard study provides strong evidence that eating more fruits and vegetables prolongs lifespan. The optimal intake was determined to be about 5 servings of fruits and vegetables.

Including more herbs in one's meals is arguably one of the easiest ways to prevent diseases and enjoy good health for years to come.

Since fruits and vegetables vary in sizes and nutritional contents, it is worth researching what is considered a serving size of the fruits and vegetables commonly included in one's daily diet.


  • Circulation, Fruit and Vegetable Intake and Mortality, 2021


  1. Harvard T.H. Chan. (n.d.). Vegetables and Fruits. Retrieved October 21, 2021 from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/vegetables-and-fruits/