The 'magnificent' secret to a longer life

I know people who'd pay a king's ransom for the secret to a longer life. But today, I'm going to let you in on one of those secrets -- a secret that could add more than a year to your own lifespan.

And you don't have to pay a cent for this one.

I call it the Magnificent Seven, because if you up your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables to seven servings a day, your risk of premature death will drop by 10 percent and your risk of heart disease will plunge by 15 percent, according to a major new study out of Europe.

More importantly, the Magnificent Seven will add 58 weeks to your life.

And if you go beyond the Magnificent Seven and eat even more fresh produce, you could get an even bigger benefit -- because every 7-ounce increase in intake will cut your risk of a premature death by another 6 percent, according to the study.

Seven servings of fruit and vegetables may sound like a lot, but it's not. That's about 20 ounces a day, or two servings with each meal plus an extra one for a snack.

It's probably more than you eat now, and it's more than the five servings recommended by the feds. And while the feds count juice as a serving, the Magnificent Seven has to be in food form -- and, ideally, raw, according to the study.

But when you eat that many fruits and vegetables, you get two very big benefits.

First, the obvious: plenty of life-extending nutrients, especially the antioxidants that can fight disease and aging. Some of these nutrients are so powerful they can practically stop time on a cellular level.

The second is less obvious, because it's not what you eat -- it's what you don't eat. When you eat more fruits and vegetables, you eat less of the things you shouldn't eat, especially the junk foods that can cause disease and speed aging.

So pass on the junk... the cookies... the cakes... the crackers and booze. And instead, add more delicious berries, apples, pears and more to your diet.

Throw in a few more vegetables, and you won't just live longer.

You'll live better, too.