Live longer: The five-a-day diet change science says will add years to your life

Find out the new way science are suggesting you consume your five-a-day and three tips to help you do this

A spread of colourful fruit and vegetables
(Image credit: Getty)

You are told from a young age to eat your five-a-day. This is the general advice for both improving overall health and helping to avoid serious health issues down the road. However, a new study has revealed the optimal breakdown of how many portions of fruit, and how many portions of vegetables, you should consume in order to promote living longer.

The researchers behind the study published in the journal Circulation found that eating at least two portions of fruit and at least three portions of vegetables can lower the risk of death from diseases such as cancer, heart disease and respiratory disease. 

You might already be taking health supplements like the best fish oil supplements or best vitamins for women over 50 to keep things in working order inside the body, but many foods are extremely rich in nutrients and vitamins themselves. Shaping your meals around this 3:2 fruit-and-veg ratio will naturally increase your intake of things like potassium and antioxidants which have been linked to lowering blood pressure and improving lung function.

The study was also able to distinguish benefits between the different groups of fruit and vegetable. They found that foods rich in vitamin C, beta carotene and leafy greens can individually contribute to lowering risk of death and increasing longevity. The kinds of fruit and vegetables that fall into these groups are citrus fruits, kale, carrots and spinach.


(Image credit: Sydney Rae (Unsplash))

Of course, "eat plenty of greens" is common advice, but Rosie Millen, a nutritionist from live bacteria brand, Bio-Kult, says we should be eating a rainbow of different coloured fruit and vegetables in our daily diets. Referring to one of our best vegan cookbooks is an excellent way to find meal ideas and inspiration.

Although the participants self-reported how much fruit and vegetables they ate in the study, which means there was no independent verification done by the researchers, there's no denying that having a varied diet with plenty of nutrient-dense foods such as will positively impact your overall health and wellbeing. Millen says that most nutritionists will actually recommend people eat five portions of vegetables and two portions of fruit a day.

Here are her three tips to make sure you are eating plenty of fruit and veg:

  • Cook from scratch: Avoid packaged and processed foods, instead choose whole fruits and vegetables to prepare from scratch, that way you know exactly what’s going into your meal and your food will have retained more of the nutrients.
  • Start with the veg: When cooking a meal, think firstly of which vegetables you want to include and base your meal around them. Don’t think of the vegetables as being a side to the main, make the vegetables the basis of the meal and consider that vegetables should be filling at least half your plate of food.
  • Consume fruits and vegetables with each meal: It’s easier to consider eating 5 portions of vegetables and 2 fruits each day, if you split them up throughout the day between breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.
Jessica Downey

Jessica is an experienced fitness writer with a passion for running. Her career in journalism began in local news and she holds a Masters in journalism. Jessica has previously written for Runners World, penning news and features on fitness, sportswear and nutrition. 

When she isn't writing up news and features for Fit&Well covering topics ranging from muscle building, to yoga, to female health and so on, she will be outdoors somewhere, testing out the latest fitness equipment and accessories to help others find top products for their own fitness journeys. Her testing pairs up nicely with her love for running. She recently branched out to running 10Ks and is trying to improve her time before moving on to larger races. Jessica also enjoys building on her strength in the gym and is a believer in health and wellness beginning in the kitchen. She shares all of this on her running Instagram account @jessrunshere which she uses for accountability and for connecting with like-minded fitness lovers.