In a meta-analysis of 16 studies involving more than 833,000 participants, researchers found that each daily serving of fruits or vegetables was associated with a 5% lower risk of mortality, so that eating five servings a day lowered the risk by 25%. But eating more than that didn’t lower the risk further.
A lower risk of death overall and a reduced risk of death from heart disease was documented in follow up studies, but there was no correlation with cancer deaths.
How does this jive with our government telling us to cover half our plate in fruits and vegetables? And what does this mean for vegetarians?
A July, 2014 article in "Health Day News" Joy Dubost, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, suggests that speculating about upper limits of consumption is pointless because so few people actually eat enough fruits and vegetables anyway. Dubost and Dr. Frank Hu, author of the study, agree that vegetarians are not less healthy because the benefits of consuming fruits and vegetables diminish after 5 servings.
Covering half your plate with fruits and vegetables is a government axiom that does not make that much sense. A better visual for a 2000 calorie daily diet is 2.5 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit. These quantities lose their significance spread on a plate and more importantly the idea is daily consumption, not consumption during any one meal.
Even when you eat your fruits and vegetables as you should, with food, less is more.