Eating three to four servings of fruit, vegetables and legumes per day (375-500g) achieves a similar benefit against the risk of mortality to higher portions…

The study, involving more than 135 000 people around the world and being presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress 2017, was published in The Lancet on 29 August 2017.

Affordable options

The findings provide a more affordable option for those in low- and middle-income countries, and may have important implications on household spending and food security in poorer countries.

WIN a R 2,000 Woolworths Voucher

Subscribe to our Free Daily All4Women Newsletter to enter

The study is the first to look at intake of fruit, vegetables and legumes and their association with cardiovascular disease and mortality on a global scale and includes data from 18 countries.

The authors stress that intake of fruit, vegetables and legumes should be considered part of a healthy diet.

“Current dietary guidelines may not be achievable globally since fruits and vegetables have been shown to be unaffordable in many low and lower-middle income countries,” says lead author Victoria Miller, McMaster University, Canada.

“Our findings suggest an approach that is likely to be more affordable in lower and middle-income countries – that three to four servings of fruit, vegetables and legumes per day show a similar benefit against reducing the risk of death to ‘five-a-day’ guidance.

Overall healthy diet and lifestyle

“For people in higher income countries already eating five servings per day, this is not a suggestion to eat less. Fruit, vegetable and legume intake should be seen as a part of an overall healthy diet and lifestyle,” continues Ms Miller.

Writing in a linked Comment, Dr Estefania Toledo, University of Navarra, Spain, says: “A healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables needs to be considered as part of a high-quality overall eating pattern… based on country-specific dietary traditions… as an effective tool for prevention of cardiovascular disease and premature mortality.”

Reduce junk- and processed food, salt, sugar and trans fats for better health

“Increased consumption of fruit and vegetables should be at the expense of reducing other foods and drinks, such as sugar sweetened beverages, red and processed meats, saturated and trans fat, refined cereals, and sugar-rich desserts…,” adds Dr Toledo.


While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.