One of the largest studies of its kind has thrown doubt on the idea that the more fruit and vegetables you eat, the healthier you are, the Times reports.
Canadian scientists found that people who ate three or four large portions of fruit and vegetables a day were a fifth less likely to die early than those who consumed less than one.
However, eating more than four large portions provided no extra protection, the study revealed.
Raw vegetables were found to be especially healthy, with those eating more than two servings a day a third less likely to die early.
Based on recommendations from the World Health Organisation, the NHS has recommended five portions a day since 2003.
Only a quarter of people meet this target, with average adults consuming 3.5 portions, but this latest study suggests this may be sufficient.
The study was the largest of its kind, examining 135,000 healthy people on five continents over a decade, during which 5,800 died.
“If you reach three to four servings you reach the maximum benefit that you need,” said Andrew Mente of McMaster University in Ontario, who presented the results to the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Barcelona. “This is good news, because it is much more feasible to achieve three to four servings than it is to achieve more than five a day.”
According to the study, one portion was defined as 125g, larger than the UK definition of 80g, while variety was found to be less important than suggested in British guidelines.