Vegetables and Fruits Lower Risk of Dying by 22%

One of the largest studies of links between diet and heart disease was recently completed. The results were very clear: people who consume more fruits and vegetables have a lower risk of dying from heart disease.

Most readers already suspected that. But what makes this study great is that it shows exactly how many fruit and vegetables you need and exactly the degree of protection against heart disease you’ll get for your efforts.

The study—known as EPIC, or European Prospective investigation into Cancer and Nutrition– showed that people who ate at least eight 3-ounce portions of fruit and vegetables a day had a 22% lower risk of dying from heart disease than did those who consumed fewer than three portions. (A portion is roughly equivalent to a small banana, a medium apple, or a carrot.

According to the lead researcher, Dr. Francesca Crowe, every additional portion of fruit or vegetables above 2 a day reduced your risk of dying from heart disease by 4%.

Each and every portion.

(A related study found that every two servings of total fruits and veggies also reduces the incidence of cancer by 4%.)

Think about that for a sec. If there was a pill with no side effects that you could pop a bunch of times a day and every time you took one your risk for dying dropped 4% would you take it?

In this study—which by the way included 300,000 people in eight different European countries—a person who ate 3 portions a day of veggies or fruits was 4% less likely to die over the course of the study than someone who ate 2 portions; and those 4%’s keep adding up, all the way up to 8 portions a day.

The researchers found that the average intake of fruit and vegetables was five portions a day; people in Greece, Italy and Spain ate more, and those in Sweden ate less.

That means, if you’re consuming five a day, you could lower your risk of dying from heart disease a hefty 12% more just by adding three more servings of vegetables a day. (And those are small servings we’re talking about!)

Sir Michael Marmot head of the UCL Department of Epidemiology and Public Health writes “There would need to be big shift in dietary patterns to achieve this healthy consumption of eight portions a day. It is worth trying to move in that direction.”




  1. Carson Boddicker

    Dr. Bowden,

    It is amazing to me how even as little as 2 servings daily as you note can have a significant impact, yet many (myself included at times) are still missing the boat. I appreciate you putting this out here.

    Carson Boddicker

  2. garfinkel

    “300,000 people in eight different European countries…” So this means it is a bogus, self-reported anecdotal study?

  3. johnny

    As reported above, the EPIC makes a great case for fruits and vegetables.

    However, it should be said that during said study, only 1,636 participants died during the study from heart disease, which is about half of one per cent.

    Using the study’s own numbers, of those who ate at least eight 3-ounce portions of fruit and vegetables a day they only had 180 less deaths from heart disease out of 300,000 participants, exactly 0.0006, an infinitesimal percentage.

    The researchers cautioned that these people may have healthier lifestyles generally. They may be less likely to smoke; they may eat less processed food; they may be more active.

    Thus, we should not make the usual bad science leap from association to causation and say ‘eating more fruit and veg lowers the risk of dying from heart disease’.

  4. Fatima Hossri Peters

    Could you please tell me what fruits should i eat daily, but please not the expensive ones.

    As i don’t like to go to th supermarket to buy food, i really appreciate if you tell me what to buy or if there is a pill, i would love to take instead of thinking what to eat everyday Rsss.

    I follow Dr. Bowden book , but still so lazy to think which fruit and veggies to eat.

    Thank you,

    Best Regards,


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  6. SunShine

    It makes sense that fruit and veg can help to lower your chance of dying younger, eating healthy has to be one of the keys to a long life. It’s a shame to see you people, they growing up eating unhealthy saturated foods