But now experts are recommending ten portions of fruit and vegetables to ward off disease.
The paper, published in the Journal of Epidemiology, looked at 95 studies analyzing the benefits of fruits and veggies among more than two million people around the world. That amount could cut the risk of premature death by 15 percent.
Five servings of fruits and veggies a day has always been the daily minimum we've been encouraged to aim for in order to maintain good health, but that scientists are discovering more about our nutritional needs, the "5-a-day" recommendation is quickly becoming more outdated than ever.
The results for 10 daily servings were even stronger: a 24 per cent reduced risk of heart disease; 33 per cent reduced risk of stroke; a 28 per cent reduced risk of cardiovascular disease; 13 per cent reduced risk of cancer; and a 31 per cent reduction in premature death risk.
"Most likely, it is the whole package of beneficial nutrients you obtain by eating fruits and vegetables that is crucial in health", Aune said. Ten portions daily of fruits and veggies are needed for health, as a study shows. In fact, even eating just 200 grams (seven ounces, or 2.5 portions of fruits and veggies) per day was linked with a 16 percent reduction in the risk of heart disease, 18 percent decrease in risk of stroke and 13 percent reduction in risk of cardiovascular disease. That would mean eating 800 grams of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. The team were not able to investigate intakes greater than 800 g a day, as this was the high end of the range across studies. According to the researchers, at 80 grams per serving, this is the equivalent of one small piece of fruit like an apple or a banana.
The researchers discovered that a higher intake of fruits and veggies was associated with a significantly reduced risk of disease and death. For cooked veggies like peas, spinach, broccoli or cauliflower, one serving size is about the equivalent of three heaped tablespoons. The team say the number of studies was more limited for these analyses, and the possibility that other specific fruits and vegetables may also reduce risk can not be excluded. Fruits and vegetables can add vitamins and minerals in a diet.
"This may be due to the complex network of nutrients they hold. For instance they contain many antioxidants, which may reduce DNA damage, and lead to a reduction in cancer risk".