For years, we've heard that eating five or six servings of fruits and vegetables a day is good for your health. However, this commonly held belief has been short on scientific confirmation. Studies had been done either only on specific vegetables and diseases such as the studies showing that tomatoes reduce the risk of prostate cancer in men for instance.
Now the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston has completed a 14-year study observing 114,000 men and women and their risks for having a stroke. Researchers found that respondents eating five or six servings of vegetables or fruits a day were 31 percent less likely to suffer the most common type of stroke, called an ischemi stroke, compared with those eating only one serving a day. Eating more than six servings a day didn't seem to increase the benefits. Furthermore, it appears that citrus, leafy green vegetables such as kale, and crucifer vegetables such as broccoli offered the most protection. Legumes such as dried beans and potatoes offered the least.
Charlie Nardozzi is the senior horticulturist at National Gardening.
Photography by Suzanne DeJohn/National Gardening Association
Article published on June 23, 2008.