There is little doubt, to this day, that consuming fruits and vegetables in abundance is positive for health. According to a recent study, consuming 5 servings of vegetables a day increases life expectancy, reducing the incidence of chronic diseases such as cancer or cardiovascular diseases.
However, it must be borne in mind that to achieve the positive effects it is important to guarantee the intake of macronutrients in the optimal proportions. Covering the protein and fat requirements is also essential. Both elements are responsible for participating in a multitude of physiological processes.
2 pieces of fruit and 3 of vegetables
First of all, it is important to note that it is essential to prioritize the consumption of vegetables over fruit. This is because vegetables often contain a higher concentration of phytonutrients. These compounds are key when it comes to neutralizing the formation of free radicals, which is associated with the prevention of complex pathologies.
According to research published in the journal Circulation , it is important to ensure the presence of vegetables in the diet to improve the efficiency of physiological processes, thus keeping inflammatory levels under control. It must be taken into account that an excessive promotion of inflammation could cause problems in the body.
To achieve optimal health, it is recommended that plant-based foods appear in all main meals. Fruits can also be included in mid-morning or mid-afternoon snacks to improve the overall intake of vitamins and antioxidants.
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Some fruits and vegetables are better than others
Keep in mind that not all vegetables have the same properties. Exotic fruits, for example, have a higher concentration of phytonutrients. These compounds have been shown to be important in preventing problems like cancer, according to a study published in Current Pharmaceutical Design.
Likewise, vegetables with intense colors or crucifers are also capable of improving health more efficiently than others, such as leafy ones. Broccoli is a good example of this, since there is evidence that it contains key substances to help reduce the incidence of cardiovascular diseases.
Eat even more fruits and vegetables
However, although there is a consensus that the optimal amount of fruits and vegetables per day is 5 servings, this does not mean that you can increase your intake. In fact, higher consumption could even be beneficial. Above all, it is optimal to ensure a good variety, combining products of different colors to ensure a greater supply of nutrients.
It is also important to alternate the consumption of raw and cooked vegetables. Physical chemical processes can alter the bioavailability of some of its nutrients. In this sense, it is beneficial that a good part of the ingested vegetables have not been subjected to aggressive cooking processes.
A good technique to maximize the use of nutrients is to also consume the cooking broth of the vegetables. A large amount of water-soluble vitamins remain in it, so it should not be wasted.
Returning to the study published in Circulation, the diet of more than 2 million subjects was analyzed, the sample size being very large. The risk of death was found to be significantly reduced, by 12%, in those subjects who consumed 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
It was even found that respiratory pathologies were 35% less incidents and prevalent in these subjects. The same happened with various types of cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
However, it was not possible to link a higher consumption of vegetables with an even greater reduction in the risk of death. In addition, the most beneficial vegetables were those with green leaves or bright colors, which show high content of vitamin C and beta-carotene.
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Eat more fruits and vegetables to live longer
As discussed, the intake of at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables throughout the day is effective in preventing chronic and complex health problems. This is due to its micronutrient and phytonutrient content, which generates a powerful antioxidant effect capable of neutralizing the formation of free radicals.
In addition, it is also important to reduce the presence of ultra-processed foods in the diet to complement this good habit. This will also reduce the contribution of trans fats and simple sugars, which will generate greater efficiency in the functioning of the human body.
Finally, do not forget that it is essential to supplement a good diet with regular physical exercise. It will also be necessary to guarantee a good night’s rest to improve the recovery of the organism.