Everyone who’s ever watched Saturday morning cartoons knows that you should eat your fruits and vegetables. In fact, the message has lodged so deep into our collective amygdalae that for many of us it’s since come to trigger a guilt reflex every time we eat a candy bar for a snack, followed by a tiny feeling of rebellion: nice try, Batman, but the vending machine is right here and there ain’t a fruit vendor in sight.
A small army of researchers collected data on almost half a million subjects (451,151, to be exact) over a period of 10 to 18 years, and correlated a number of variables, including fruit and vegetable consumption, with mortality over that period.
What they found was an overall lifespan increase of 1.12 years for those in the top 25 percent of produce eaters, driven by a decline in cardiovascular-related death in that group.
Nearly 3 percent of all deaths in the bottom three quarters might have been prevented if the subjects bumped their fruit and veggie consumption up to the next quartile, and that number goes up to 4.24 percent if you count deaths due to cardiovascular disease.
The life-saving association was even stronger for raw over cooked veggies, and more pronounced for people with high alcohol consumption, high BMI, and possibly for smokers.
Maybe that’ll lodge in your brain, too.