Intended for healthcare professionals


Enjoy your fruits and vegetables

BMJ 1996; 313 doi: (Published 28 September 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:765
  1. Matthew W Gillman, Assistant professor
  1. Department of Ambulatory Care and Prevention, Harvard Medical School, and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Boston, MA 02215, USA

    Eating fruit and vegetables protects against the common chronic diseases of adulthood

    When I was young my mother repeatedly admonished me to eat my fruits and vegetables. She had a valid point: the health benefits of fruits and vegetables are remarkably consistent across epidemiological studies. Perhaps the most convincing evidence relates to the risk of cancer. Data from various casecontrol and cohort studies strongly indicate that diets rich in fruits and vegetables reduce the incidence of several common neoplasms, especially of the respiratory and digestive tract.1 2 3 The epidemiological data are in accord with biological mechanisms, as known phytochemicals can alter almost every stage of carcinogenesis.4 Fewer data exist about cardiovascular disease, but recent observational studies show inverse associations of intake of fruits and vegetables with cardiovascular mortality5 and the incidence of myocardial infarction6 and stroke.7 The results of these observational studies complement evidence from cross-cultural studies, such as the Seven Countries Study, in which mortality from all causes and cardiovascular diseases were lowest in countries with traditional plant based diets.8

    In this context, the study of Key et al on p 775 adds important information.9 …

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