Five portions of fruit and veg a day is good for you, but 10 is much better and could prevent up to 7.8 million premature deaths worldwide every year, say scientists.
10 portions. Now that is a lot of chewing (let alone shopping, chopping and washing up.)
The findings of the study led by Imperial College London may dismay the two in three adults who struggle to manage three or four portions – perhaps some tomatoes in a sandwich at lunchtime, an apple and a few spoonfuls of peas at dinner.
All of that is good because a daily intake of even 200g, or two and a half standard 80g portions, is associated with a 16% reduced risk of heart disease, an 18% reduced risk of stroke, a 13% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, 4% reduced risk of cancer and a 15% reduction in the risk of premature death.
But the study suggests we should be piling up platefuls of vegetables and raiding the fruit bowl every day if we want the best chance of avoiding chronic diseases or an early death.
“We wanted to investigate how much fruit and vegetables you need to eat to gain the maximum protection against disease, and premature death. Our results suggest that although five portions of fruit and vegetables is good, 10 a day is even better,” said Dr Dagfinn Aune, lead author of the research from the School of Public Health at Imperial.
Eating up to 800g of fruit and vegetables – equivalent to 10 portions and double the recommended amount in the UK – was associated with a 24% reduced risk of heart disease, a 33% reduced risk of stroke, a 28% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, a 13% reduced risk of total cancer, and a 31% reduction in premature deaths.
What does that even look like?
Well I’m here to show you….
Each of these squares equal 5 portions so you would need to be eating two squares of fruit and vegetables each day.
And not all fruit and veg are created equal.
Apples and pears, citrus fruits, salads and green leafy vegetables such as spinach, lettuce and chicory, and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower were found to be best at preventing heart disease and stroke.
But if you are looking to reduce sugar or pull back on carbs, you’ll need to swap bananas for greens or cut out dry fruit all together.
To reduce the risk of cancer, however, the menu should include buckets of green vegetables, such as bok choi, kale, green beans; yellow and orange vegetables such as peppers and carrots; and cruciferous vegetables such as brocolli.
“Fruit and vegetables have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and to boost the health of our blood vessels and immune system,” said Aune. “This may be due to the complex network of nutrients they hold. For instance they contain many antioxidants, which may reduce DNA damage, and lead to a reduction in cancer risk.”
Compounds called glucosinolates in cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, activate enzymes that may help prevent cancer. Fruit and vegetables may also have a beneficial effect on the naturally occurring bacteria in our gut, he said.
So in summery, people should aim to eat at least five portions of vegetables and fruit a day but the more the better. And if like 3 out of 5 people in the world you struggle to get your 5 a day, then like me you can join over millions worldwide who bridge the gap with Juice Plus.
Juice Plus is the essence of 26 fruits, vegetables and berries encapsulated to help you to bridge the gap between what you should eat and what you do eat everyday. Learn more here >>