We all are aware of the guidelines that we all need to eat five portions of fruit and veg a day for optimal health, but with the publication of some recent research, it appears that five a day may not be sufficient.Scientists at the Imperial College in London have carried out an extensive meta-analysis of 95 previous studies with over two million participants, that looked at the relationship between food, disease and mortality. Specifically the study looked at stroke, cardiovascular disease, heart disease, cancer and deaths related to the above.
One of the key findings of the research was that five portions of fruit and veg a day was good for you, but to get the maximum protection against disease and premature death, ten portions a day is recommended. Put simply, the scientists estimate that up to 7.8 million deaths worldwide, could be prevented each year if people ate ten portions, or 800 grammes of fruit and veg each day. An 80 g portion of fruit and vegetables equals approximately one small banana, apple, pear or large mandarin or three heaped tablespoons of cooked vegetables such as spinach, peas, broccoli or cauliflower.
To help fight against heart disease, stroke and cardiovascular disease, 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 are most effective. To reduce cancer risk then load up on green vegetables such as spinach or green beans, yellow vegetables, such as peppers and carrots, and cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli.
The research also took into account other factors such as weight, smoking and physical activity, but across all variables it was still found that increased fruit and veg intake was beneficial. In the fight against stroke, cardiovascular disease and heart disease, the study reports that benefits were to be found up to and including the tenth portion. The studies analysed did not record quantities greater than this, so there may even be additional benefits for consumption beyond 10 portions a day. In the fight against cancer, maximum benefit was seen after consumption of 600 g or 7.5 portions a day, with no additional benefit for consumption over this amount.
For those interested, the research can be found online in The International Journal of Epidemiology under “Fruit and vegetable intake and the risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer and all-cause mortality–a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies”