The Best Fruits & Vegetables for Your 5 a Day

Incorporating five servings of fruits and vegetables can boost your wellness and overall lifespan. 

But is there a right ratio of fruits to vegetables? And do some have more health benefits than others?

The good news is new research from is shining a light on the optimal balance of produce to live a longer, healthier life. Here’s what you need to know.

Getting five servings a day?

You’re off to an amazing start. 

Eating five a day is associated with the greatest life longevity, according to a new study from Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health that analyzed more than 2 million people in the United States and across dozens of other countries.

Compared to people who had two servings of fruits and vegetables a day, those who ate five had a 13% lower risk of death from all causes, including a remarkable 35% lower risk of death from respiratory disease like COPD.

Eating more than five was not found to increased longevity, but only 1 in 10 Americans even reach the recommended amount. If you’re setting and reaching the five-a-day goal, you’re already making a lot of progress toward healthy eating habits.

What’s the right balance of fruits to veggies?

Think 2 to 3.

As much as we all love fruit (and we do), the right ratio is two fruits and three vegetables every day. That’s not to say you have to stick to a stringent 2:3 ratio every day, but the needle on the scale should be slightly weighed toward veggies. For reference, one “serving” is considered a half-cup of any fruit/veggie, or a whole cup of salad greens.

While ‘5 a day’ is an excellent place to be, research has shown that some fruits and vegetables have more health benefits than others.

What are the most (and least) beneficial vegetables?

Green and leafy all the way.

Say hello to your three best friends: spinach, lettuce and kale. When it comes to food (or tea, we might add), green should be your go-to. Researchers found that green leafy vegetables were the most beneficial in increasing longevity. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and brussel sprouts are also associated with many health benefits due to their strong antioxidant properties.

On the other hand, starchy vegetables like peas, corn and potatoes were not associated with these same health benefits.  

What are the best fruits of the bunch?

It’s Vitamin C time.

Citrus fruits and berries have the most benefits for longevity. You have your pick of a wide range of berries – from sweet raspberries and blackberries to tart blueberries and cranberries. Vitamin C-heavy citrus fruits like oranges, lemons and grapefruit are important for an immune system boost.

In addition, look for both fruits and vegetables like squash, carrots and mangoes that are rich in beta carotene, which research also showed to reduce health risks and free radicals in your body.

With that said, don’t feel like you have to stick to the same old pattern day in and day out. Most of all, we need variety in our diets! We recommend shopping organic for the most nutrient-rich version of these foods or visiting your local farmers’ market to buy seasonal produce directly from the source.

 

Getting five a day is a great way not only to increase your lifespan, but also enrich your life by exploring all the wonderful foods our planet has to offer.