For years, nutritionists and global health authorities have been conducting a “Five a Day” campaign to highlight the health benefits of eating 5 servings of fruit and vegetables every day. The 5 A DAY campaign is based on advice from the World Health Organization, which recommends eating a minimum of 400g of fruit and vegetables a day to lower the risk of serious health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and obesity.
But some scientists are now questioning whether this recommendation goes far enough. Recent research from Great Britain shows that increasing the daily fresh fruit and vegetable intake to 7 portions a day may yield significantly more health benefits. University College London researchers analyzed the diets of 65,226 men and women based on data from the Health Survey for England from 2001-2008.
“The study looked at general mortality as well as death from cancer, heart disease and stroke, and found risk of premature death from any cause decreased as fruit and veg consumption increased.
Risk of death by any cause over the course of the study was reduced by 42% for seven or more (up to around 10 portions a day)
Fresh vegetables had the strongest protective effect, followed by salad and then fruit.
Fruit juice conferred no benefit, while canned fruit appeared to increase the risk of death – possibly because it is stored in sugary syrup, say the researchers.”
Not all researchers agree or think that the current 5-A-DAY guideline should be changed. Some don’t find the study conclusive; Others think that additional lifestyle factors were not weighted heavily enough. Some fear that the message of 7 portions a day might be daunting to the public. Despite any differences on these matters, one thing is clear: adding more fresh vegetables and fruits to the daily diet yields positive health benefits.
More on the research:
Seven-a-day: Michael Mosley’s guide to reaching the target
Fruit and vegetable intake: five a day may not be enough, scientists say
Seven simple ways to get your seven-a-day
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