Equality of Plant Life

Superfoods! Loaded with anti-oxidants! Put lots of color on your plate. Green, leafy veggies are the most important.

There’s a lot of opinions about which vegetables and fruits are the healthiest. When building a nutritious diet, it’s worthwhile to look if fruits or vegetables outperform the others in extending life, so I searched through the references from studies on all-cause mortality and checked for more recent studies to see if there were any other studies better or worse vegetables or fruits.

Here’s the answer for vegetables:1

The summary is: it’s all good. Only potatoes show a statistically significant benefit greater than the other vegetables. I suspect that’s not because potatoes are better than the other vegetables, but because the high intake of potatoes was more (over 100g). The critical study from 1984 is older than others. Note that cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, cauliflower stuff) weren’t better than other veggies, and green leafy vegetables also didn’t get any particular points over other vegetables. In fact, in that same study in the supplemental material, they did a spline curve on the benefit from leafy vegetables. They found that after 50 grams, there’s no additional benefit from eating more for longevity 1.

Most fruits also show about the same amount of benefits, except apples and pears being slightly better for longevity. Since a large apple is nearly 250 grams, an apple a day does help keep the doctor away. There is one clear outlier for fruits, though–tinned or canned fruits. Eating tinned fruits *increases* your chance of dying by about as much eating regular fruits decreases it. Not sure why this would be. Chemicals used in the canning process? In any case, better to avoid tinned fruits.

The bottom line is that there isn’t a particular fruit or vegetable that is significantly better than the others. Focus on getting 300 grams of vegetables and 250 grams of fruit per day, eating whichever you like.

  1. Fruit and vegetable intake and the risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer, and all-cause mortality—a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies

What do you think?

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