Eat Fruits and Vegetables and Live Longer?

We all know that eating fruits and vegetables is good for us.  But did you know they may help us live longer, too?

I don't mean just resisting diabetes and cancer and heart disease -- illnesses related to obesity that can come when you don't eat a lot of fruits and vegetables.

Valerie DeBenedette at Reuters reports that people who ate less than five servings of fruits and vegetables a day died earlier than those who did, and people who said they never ate fruit and vegetables "died an average of three years sooner than those who ate plenty of apples, carrots and tomatoes," researchers found in a study in Sweden.

And if you eat more than five servings a day?  Sorry.  You don't get any bonus years!  

Researchers studied 71,000 Swedes ages 43 to 85 for 13 years.  Nearly 11,500 of those enrolled died by 2010.  So did they all not eat their fruits and vegetables?

The study found that people "who had reported eating no fruit or vegetables at the start of the study were 53 percent more likely to die during the follow-up period than those who got their five daily servings," according to DeBenedette.

Carrots and tomatoes looking any better to you yet? 

Even if you only eat one serving of fruit daily, you could easily live 19 months longer than those who never eat fruit, based on the results of the research.  Eat at least three servings of vegetables a day? Those who did  "lived 32 months longer than people who reported not eating vegetables," DeBenedette noted.

Okay.  Full disclosure.  The people in the study who said they never ate fruits and vegetables also smoked, and had other unhealthy habits like eating red meat and a lot of dairy, and didn't exercise much, if at all.

And here's the disappointing wind-up:  DeBenedette writes that the study could not prove that eating a lot of fruits and vegetables makes you live longer.  There were other variables that could also have been at work, scientists said.  But eating these things is healthy and could only be good for you, unless you eat too many carrots and your skin turns orange (true story).

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