Researchers led by Dr. Chaoyang Li, from the CDC's division of behavioral surveillance with epidemiology and laboratory services, note that a host of yellow-orange foods such as carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and winter squash, and mango and cantaloupe are rich in alpha-carotene, as are some dark-green foods such as broccoli, green beans, green peas, spinach, turnip greens, collards, kale, brussels sprouts, kiwi, spinach and leaf lettuce.
These foods fall within the U.S. Department of Agriculture's current dietary recommendations, which highlight the benefits of consuming two to four servings of fruit and three to five servings of vegetables daily.
Li's team focused on more than 15,000 American adults, 20 years of age or older, who took part in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. All underwent a medical exam between 1988 and 1994, during which time blood samples were taken. Participants were tracked for a 14-year period through 2006.
By that point, more than 3,800 participants had died. Blood analyses revealed that, compared with those who had blood alpha-carotene levels of between 0 and 1 micrograms per deciliter (mcg/dL), those falling in the range of between 2 and 3 mcg/dL faced a 23 percent lower risk of death from all causes.
Risk of death for those with alpha-carotene blood levels in the range of between 4 and 5 mcg/dL, between 6 and 8 mcg/dL, and 9 mcg/dL or above dropped 27 percent, 34 percent and 39 percent, respectively, versus those in the 0 to 1 mcg/dL range.
The team also linked higher blood alpha-carotene levels to a lower risk for dying from the nation's two top killers: cardiovascular disease or cancer.
Li's team said that while more research is needed, the findings generally suggest that eating more fruits and vegetables can help lower your risk for premature death.
Sandon agreed, but cautioned against over-interpreting th
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