Study: Eat 7 servings of fruit, veggies daily
March 31st, 2014
06:31 PM ET

Study: Eat 7 servings of fruit, veggies daily

You know the saying, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away"? Turns out eating one apple isn't enough. A new study suggests people who eat up to seven servings of fruit and vegetables a day can cut their risk of premature death by 42% - and that vegetables may be more important than fruit to your overall health.

The study, conducted by scientists in the United Kingdom, was published online Monday in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

The study

Researchers looked at data from more than 65,000 adults over age 35 who participated in the Healthy Surveys for England study between 2001 and 2008.

HSE surveyors had asked participants about their fruit and vegetable consumption during a 24-hour time period. Portion sizes were defined by the UK's Department of Health to be about 80 grams (equivalent to just under 3 ounces). The new study authors compared this nutrition information to mortality data for the group over the following eight or so years.

The results

The participants ate an average of 3.8 servings of fruit and vegetables per day. Older, non-smoking women tended to eat more than other demographic groups. Produce consumption was also linked to participants' body mass indexes; those who ate more fruit and vegetables tended to have a lower BMI.

The researchers found that a diet rich in fruit and vegetables can be protective against cancer, heart disease and all other causes of death. Eating at least seven servings was best, but each serving increase was associated with a lower risk of death.

To make sure they weren't counting people who were seriously ill at the time of the survey, researchers excluded deaths that occurred in the year following the data collection. When they did so, they found that people who ate at least seven daily servings of fruit and vegetables had a 42% lower risk of death from all causes during the study's follow-up period than those who ate less than one daily serving.

When researchers broke it down by cause of death, veggie lovers had a 25% lower risk of dying from cancer, and a 31% lower risk of dying from heart disease or stroke during that same period.

Vegetables seemed to provide a greater health benefit than fruit. Eating more than three or four servings of fruit daily didn't increase a study participant's chance of survival, the study authors concluded.

Study limits

HSE surveyors only recorded one day of each study particpant's fruit and vegetable consumption. On that day, the participant could have eaten more or less produce than they would normally consume.

Researchers also did not include participants' total caloric intake, salt consumption or fat consumption in their analysis.

As the study authors say, their data shows a "strong association, but not necessarily a causal relationship."


Eat more vegetables. Even if you, like many of the study participants, believe you're eating an overall healthy diet, you "need to aim higher," according to an editorial accompanying the study.

This study follows previous research presented at the American College of Cardiology's annual session last week. Dr. Michael Miedema and his colleagues found that women who ate eight to nine servings of fruit and vegetables in their 20s were 40% less likely to have dangerous plaque in their arteries in their 40s.

"There is value in knowing how the choices we make early in life have lifelong benefits," Miedema said in a press release.

So fill up on salad. Snack on raw carrots. And yes - eat that apple.

soundoff (222 Responses)
  1. Katrina Wogoman

    "Eating at least seven servings was best, but each serving increase was associated with a lower risk of death." They couldn't have worded this article any better? Now there's probably someone out there thinking 7 apples a day will make them immortal.

    April 1, 2014 at 07:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Eleanor

      I've been eating 7 apples a day since 1811. I'm over 200 years old and going strong, which I credit to my extreme apple consumption. CNN is right yet again.

      April 1, 2014 at 09:39 | Report abuse |
    • Amie

      I am actually responding to both you and ESPECIALLY Elenor..... LMAO!!!!!!! That made my day.

      April 1, 2014 at 14:29 | Report abuse |
    • Rachel

      Had to laugh at responses since everyone is gonna die, so more specific info needed. Explain the 42%. More interested in how much sooner you die if you have a chocolate, dark, of course, croissant for breakfast most mornings.

      April 1, 2014 at 14:37 | Report abuse |
    • HeadShaker

      "..Study limits

      HSE surveyors only recorded one day of each study particpant's fruit and vegetable consumption. On that day, the participant could have eaten more or less produce than they would normally consume..."
      One day....ONE DAY??????? Am I reading that correctly.....?

      April 2, 2014 at 21:09 | Report abuse |
    • feritq

      i think they were trying to dumb it down by using "servings" instead of "grams". I would never believe eating tiny portions of veggies 7 times a day would be better than making 1 big meal of them and a few other small sides at other times.

      April 3, 2014 at 01:58 | Report abuse |
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  2. Tom

    What part did you have a hard time understanding? If anyone read this article thinks it says "7 apples a day will make them immortal" then they have some serious reading comprehension problems.

    April 1, 2014 at 09:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • kanneroo

      Chill, man. Point is (which is why the post was funny), saying "decreases risk of death by 42%" is the statement... which, of course, it ludicrous, as your current risk of death is 100%, no matter who you may be talking to, and no matter how many vegetables you eat.

      April 1, 2014 at 10:48 | Report abuse |
    • shoos

      Yes, that was a very funny sentence about reducing death by 42%. Lack of proof reading does make the articles funnier.

      April 1, 2014 at 13:34 | Report abuse |
    • Rachel

      I think it's more a snarky sense of humor thing, Tom. I'm an English teacher yet I was compelled to add my two cents to the wise guy column.

      April 1, 2014 at 14:39 | Report abuse |
  3. Boo

    Hey Sanjay....we're all gonna die some day. And members of your profession also said eating fatty foods causes heart disease and now members of your profession are back-pedaling on that too. Gues that's why it's called "practicing medicine." ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL. What may be healthy for one person, might kill the next person.

    April 1, 2014 at 10:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Amanda

      um, fruits and veggies are good for you, I don't think that is disputed.

      April 1, 2014 at 13:03 | Report abuse |
  4. Lojack

    Cut your risk of death by 42%???? Isn't everyones risk of death 100%?

    April 1, 2014 at 10:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Magtei

      To everyone complaining about "42%":
      Your "risk" of dying is the probability that you will die within a given time. Based on available data, the risk of dying by age 130 has been 100% throughout human history. Yet a centenarian's risk is lower than a nonagenarian's risk; if you've gone 100 years, the odds that you will get by another year are better. The statistical distribution of human lifespan has a long tail, which slowly but surely narrows to zero; low risk over many short terms eventually adds up to 100% in the long term.

      The study lasted eight years. At the end, the dead-to-total-alive-after-first-year ratio was 42% lower for the seven-vegetable group. Their risk of dying within seven years was that much lower. Notice that the study never mentions lifespan, though I expect this group's average gain will be at least five, likely ten years.

      April 1, 2014 at 16:34 | Report abuse |
    • Manic Zorbian

      It depends on whether you are in the path of that beer truck, how fast the truck is going, and what brand of beer the truck is carrying.

      April 2, 2014 at 12:10 | Report abuse |
  5. Mystique

    This is so poorly written. "A new study suggests people who eat up to seven servings of fruit and vegetables a day can cut their risk of death by 42%..." So they have a 42% less chance of ever dying. That was a stupid comment.

    April 1, 2014 at 12:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • bud in nc

      Mystique get off your high horse. The sentance was badly written, agreed. But only the uninformed would think it was stupid. The report simply states that the people in the study when compared with the general population the study group experienced 42% fewer deaths than the death rate in the general population. It no way suggests that the 42% of the people in the study group will never die.

      April 1, 2014 at 22:34 | Report abuse |
  6. Steven Breen

    The very best way is to take the GREENS from It Works Global!!!!!

    April 1, 2014 at 12:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. nhatruclehoang

    Reblogged this on Grace's 3721 and commented:
    I could never control myself in front of fruits and veggies. Today, I had 6 apples, 3 bananas and a whole bowl of salad. Sometimes I fear that I'm overdosed, but apparently, not yet.
    Still a meat lover, though.
    Darn, I just love food in general.

    April 1, 2014 at 13:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Ally

    I'll take that as good news for me. I've always loved veggies. I've been trying to force more fruit in...it's just too sweet for me!

    April 1, 2014 at 13:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Portlandtony

      Sorry boss, that report you needed by tonight won't be ready cause someone stole my veggies. Or sorry professor, I missed that final because I'm broke and had to choose between Ritalin and.carrots! Get real! In a perfect world maybe....most working people are lucky to get one veggie a day and that's on a Wendyburger.

      April 1, 2014 at 17:44 | Report abuse |
  9. Richard

    It's interesting that the former trend towards obesity is reversing. I attribute this to the increasing non-affordability of food. Food prices are rising much faster than wages are. If you have to get a couple of thousand calories a day and you're faced with affordability issues, you start needing to consider the cost per calories. Form this standpoint vegetables, in particular, are extraordinarily expensive.

    April 1, 2014 at 13:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. wrm

    Maybe it wasn't what they ate but what they didn't eat.

    Sometimes it amazes me that we survived as a species... year around fruit and veggies are relatively very new, at least to those whose ancestors originated from the colder climates.

    April 1, 2014 at 13:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. ANDY

    Great Job CNN , your editor should read articles before posting them , How can something reduce mortality by any number,
    since we all are mortals?. or every one that can wright anything is busy covering the Malaysian flight TV show.

    April 1, 2014 at 14:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. C. Tang

    " ... people who eat up to seven servings of fruit and vegetables a day can cut their risk of death by 42%"
    Is this an April fools joke?

    April 1, 2014 at 14:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Artemis MA

      'Fraid not. It was simply a poorly-written sentence from a flawed report.

      April 1, 2014 at 19:45 | Report abuse |
  13. mom

    It is true. Pass up the junk. Indulge in veggies and some fruit. Enhance life. Live longer. I'll do it; win win!
    You won't be at all overweight if you do, either. But you MUST not eat too many calories from junk. Try it. Pass up the cookies and extra sandwich. Go for fresh REAL food almost all of the time.

    April 1, 2014 at 15:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • moto

      Thanks mom! Can always count on mom for the great advice!! 🙂 I love you mom!

      April 2, 2014 at 18:37 | Report abuse |
  14. cali girl

    How do you possible eat 7 servings, with 3 meals a day? Forget anything else, I am a small portions eater. It is not possible to eat that much.

    April 1, 2014 at 15:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • mm1970

      Eat the veggies first.
      Start breakfast with a large piece of fruit or cup of berries. That's 2 servings.

      If you get hungry after, eat something else.

      At lunch time, eat a salad. If you are still hungry, eat something else.

      Or just eat more often – snacks, but make them fruit and veggies.

      April 1, 2014 at 18:05 | Report abuse |
    • Manic Zorbian

      Maybe 7 raw brussel sprouts would do the trick? 😉

      April 2, 2014 at 12:11 | Report abuse |
    • ohioan

      What Americans consider a serving and what an actual serving is are very different. A half cup of berries or cooked carrots is a serving, as is half a large banana.

      April 2, 2014 at 13:13 | Report abuse |
  15. wadej420

    this isnt exactly breaking news. in fact its just a reminder eat plants to be healthy. eat only plants to be awesome. and eat DEE'S dry roasted nuts to be happy

    April 1, 2014 at 16:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Artemis MA

      For some of us, tree nuts are NOT REMOTELY healthy. I will stick with veggies, fish, and quality pastured meats.

      April 1, 2014 at 19:41 | Report abuse |
  16. Whooo Boy

    Just about 1 1/3 pounds of fruits and vegetables a day – that'll keep the clock ticking.

    April 1, 2014 at 17:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • feritq

      yes i think insisting on "7 servings" like this article does misses the point. Eat 560 grams, however you'd like. I for one feel better eating big portions than tiny ones. I like my digestive tract to rest in between.

      April 3, 2014 at 01:54 | Report abuse |
  17. NNBE

    I don't like these articles. It is bad to tell people how many servings of anything they should have. Better to say: make vegetables and fruits as big a part as possible of the total of your daily food.

    April 1, 2014 at 17:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Jrad

    So basically.... become a vegetarian.

    April 1, 2014 at 18:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Susan

    I feel like this is beyond obvious advice. It's just too bad that you have to give up all the other junky stuff in order to fully appreciate the delicate flavor of cauliflower or the power of broccoli. It can be worth it, if you have the power to commit to it. Fruit should always be a treat after filling up on non-starchy veggies.

    April 1, 2014 at 18:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. SixDegrees

    "A new study suggests people who eat up to seven servings of fruit and vegetables a day can cut their risk of death by 42% "

    1) "Up to"? So zero servings per day is the same as one, three, five or seven servings per day?

    2) Nice to hear the risk of death can be reduced so dramatically. Who know that immortality was not just possible, but prevalent?

    April 1, 2014 at 18:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. LL

    As long as everyone else is carping, whining, and bringing in their fascist-government paranoid 'fantasies'...I might as well nitpick.

    Has anyone ever seen a REAL grocery with all of the veggies turned the same direction, stacked neatly, and well stocked?

    April 1, 2014 at 18:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • MaryM

      Whole Foods displays their veggies like this.

      April 2, 2014 at 13:08 | Report abuse |
  22. Moose

    People on food stamps are fat because they get food free, low and middle class U.S. citizens work that is why we are thin..not from fruit and veggies..........we are hungry and the Govt.takes our money and gives it away to parasites.

    April 1, 2014 at 18:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Stop the Hatred

      News Flash

      People on food stamps can work. To qualify in IL a family of 1 adult, one child (most women with a child, abandoned by child’s father or ex-husband) must make $1,300/month or less. Have you ever heard of “the working poor!” Think before you speak, please. You could probably care less if that woman or child eats at all making an evil comment like that. It is sad how our world is changing into such a hateful one...everyone brainwashed, mislead, hateful and out for themselves. Love makes your life better, along with veggies 🍅

      May 25, 2018 at 01:28 | Report abuse |
  23. Artemis MA

    I don't doubt that veggies are good for one, but if you are basing a study on ONE day's recorded intake, this study means absolutely nothing. Yes, it may pinpoint a trend as to how someone eats, but then again... it might not.

    April 1, 2014 at 19:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Jennifer

    You need more than that. The reason the recommended amount is so low is because they're still pushing their pro-grain propaganda, something we didn't evolve to eat much except as a back-up when other food sources were low.

    Cut the grains, and eat a lot more than seven serves of vegetables a day.

    April 2, 2014 at 02:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. KieranH

    Study: Eat 7 servings of fruit, veggies daily.
    Reality: No.

    April 2, 2014 at 06:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • feritq

      Ofcourse, it's unnatural. It's natural and much more agreeable to the body to eat one big salad or veggie dish for dinner and have other small portions at other times.

      April 3, 2014 at 02:00 | Report abuse |
  26. Pat Henry

    Eat food that tastes good and tell the libs/foodnazis to take a very long walk off of a very short pier. It's not how long you live, but how.

    April 2, 2014 at 11:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Michel

    You can't cut your risk of death. We are all going to die, I am 100% certain of that eating 7 servings of fruits and veggies is not going to change that.

    April 2, 2014 at 15:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. bhowerton

    Do I still get to have the occasional burger/pizza or ice cream? 🙁

    April 2, 2014 at 18:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Artemis MA

    One 24 hour collection of food intake is used as the baseline for the next eight (or so) years? This study is flawed from the get go. Mind you, I love my veggies, and I'd like to see this being important, but this is a waste of ink, er, a waste of internet electrons.

    April 2, 2014 at 19:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. SD


    This article is a result of my search for a natural human being in the area of his food, eventually leading to his health. In general, I saw too many choices and too much half baked information in the area of health. While the intelligence that goes into building a life is incomprehensible, the external interface to use it is almost always very simple. One can choose to have healthy life either by understanding the intricate internals or by knowing how to use the simpler interface. This enormous unlearning, gave me tremendous freedom and reinforced the fact that Life is simple but we have complicated it.

    April 2, 2014 at 21:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. mickinmd

    A new study suggests people who eat up to seven servings of fruit and vegetables a day can cut their risk of death by 42%.

    Since people who don't eat 7 servings live an average of 79 years in the USA, that means those who eat 7 servings live 136 years – on average!

    As a scientist, it disgusts me when people claim their research shows things that a short examinations shows are obviously b.s. It would interest to know what fruit and veggie company sponsored this.

    April 2, 2014 at 23:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. bonogirl

    This article is ridiculous, as is the study on which it was based. I've already had cancer, and it had nothing to do with vegetables, or lack thereof, or the Tea Party, or the government, or Monsanto etc. Sometimes people get sick and – vegetables or not – everybody dies. So with that in mind, I will go eat 7 marshmallow Peeps instead.

    April 2, 2014 at 23:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. feritq

    I eat 3 servings of fruits and veggies, or maybe 4. maybe 1 at lunch in the cafeteria, then 2 servings of veggies and 1 serving of fruit at dinner. However they total close to double the total in weight that 7 of these 80 gram servings make. I feel better eating a big salad with my fish versus tiny portions that keep my stomach working and stress me all the time. This article talks about this many servings but was the study about the total weight of veggies and fruits or the number of servings per se. Are they trying to simplify 560 grams by converting it to 7 servings but missing the point? I would think eating the 560 grams any way you like would be better. how can you make fresh veggies like 5 times a day anyway.

    April 3, 2014 at 01:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Derick Gardner

    This is a bunch of BS. Who has time to sit down and eat seven servings of veggies everyday. I work an eight hour job that only allows me a 30 minute break, I sleep about 7 to 8 hours and then add to that about 3 to 4 hours in the gym. Where in hell am I going to find time to sit down and eat that much? You would have to be retired and have the whole day to sit around and eat stuff. I'm in good shape too. I supplement my diet with vitamins and array of other energy enhancing supplements. Food is important but, to tell you the truth, there's not enough hours in the day to be able to find time to eat all that. I would be getting stomach cramps and running to the toilet all the time with that much fiber in my diet.

    April 3, 2014 at 02:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Scott

      8 4 8=20
      You have 4 hours to get it all down
      -za fud nazi
      Tym stahts nauu!

      January 25, 2015 at 11:53 | Report abuse |
  35. Floyd Schrodinger

    This was a very poorly written and misleading article. How do the veggies help? Be specific. List your references. What is a serving size? One apple? There's a big difference between a Macintosh and a Rome in both size and density. There is no question that fresh vegetables are healthy for us but articles like this make people doubt the quality of that information.

    April 3, 2014 at 07:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. asdfas

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    April 5, 2014 at 09:24 | Report abuse | Reply
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  38. Amy

    I've ingested 7+ servings a day since 2001, and am not plagued by health woes that others my age are coping with - the new USDA slogan "more matters" is really true. The research speaks for itself ( see ashapiro.juiceplus.com)

    April 14, 2014 at 17:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Heal n Cure

    According to the CDC’s State Indicator Report on Fruits & Vegetables 2013, Adults in the United States consume fruit about 1.1 times per day and vegetables about 1.6 times per day. This is far from the 7 servings that this study is recommending. There is no doubt that this study is possibly coming up short in terms of finding a causal relationship between eating 7 servings of veggies/fruit and living longer. However, considering Americans eat fruit and vegetables only 2.7 times per day I don't think it's unfair to say we could do better. Maybe 7 servings per day isn't feasible for everyone but 4 servings per day certainly could be with a little effort.


    April 24, 2014 at 16:22 | Report abuse | Reply
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    May 7, 2014 at 04:49 | Report abuse | Reply
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    ...ya know it's the preservatives in the fruits and vegetables, right?

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