Eating fruits and vegetables – or taking vitamin A, C and E supplements – is the single most important thing to do if you want to live longer.

The key to a long life is down to the levels of the antioxidant alpha-carotene you have in your blood – and you get that from certain fruits and vegetables, or from vitamin supplements.

Researchers from the US’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have discovered that high levels of alpha-carotene mean you are 40 per cent more likely to be around in 14 years time compared to someone with low or zero levels, and it protects you against heart disease and cancer.

They tracked the lives of 15,318 adults aged from 20 years from 1988 to 2006. During that time, 3,810 participants died, and the single most important factor was serum (blood) levels of alpha-carotene, after taking into account demographics, lifestyles and health risks. Those with the highest levels improved their chances of being alive over the study period by 40 per cent.

Vegetables rich in alpha-carotene are the ‘yellow-orange’ varieties – carrots, sweet potatoes and pumpkin squashes – and the ‘dark greens’ – broccoli, green beans, green peas, spinach, turnips and leaf vegetables, such as cabbage.

(Source: Archives of Internal Medicine, 2010; doi: 10.1001/archinternmed.2010.440).

via Alpha-carotene in vegetables increases life expectancy by 40 per cent | What Doctors Don’t Tell You.