Women consuming over 5 servings of fruit and vegetables daily live nearly 4 years longer

Women eating five or more servings of fruit and vegetables a day increase their life expectancy by 3.8 years, according to a study published in the BMJ on Monday.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge estimated the impact of long-term lifestyle risk factors on life expectancy for women and men aged 35 years on the basis of a number of studies.

They found that five or more servings of fruit and vegetables added four microlives, each of which is a chunk of 30 minutes, a day to women's life expectancy.

Meanwhile, it was estimated that the first 20 minutes of moderate exercise increased life expectancy for women by 1.9 years, or two microlives a day, and the subsequent 40 minutes of moderate exercise added 0.5 years, or half a microlife a day. Drinking coffee also turned out to help women live longer, with two to three cups a day adding 0.9 years, or 1 microlife a day, to their life expectancy.

By contrast, one extra portion of red meat a day reduced life expectancy for women by 1.2 years, or 1 microlife a day, the study showed. Sedentary behaviour, such as two hours watching television a day, was also found to reduce life expectancy by 0.8 years, or one microlife.

David Spiegelhalter of the University of Cambridge generalised the findings by saying that: "A lifelong habit of eating burgers for lunch is, when averaged over the lifetimes of many people, associated with a loss of half an hour a day in life expectancy. Which is, unless you are a quite a slow eater, longer than it takes to eat the burger."

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