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Fruit and veg: Forget five a day, for a longer life eat 10-a-day

Five portions of fruit and veg a day is good for you, but 10 is much better and could give us longer lives, say researchers.

The study, conducted by Imperial College London, found that increasing fruit and veg consumption dramatically decreases the chance of disease and calculated such eating habits could prevent 7.8 million premature deaths each year.

The research found that even small amounts had health benefits, but more is even better.

Although even the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day reduced disease risk, the team found the greatest benefit came from eating 800g a day (roughly equivalent to ten portions – one portion of fruit or vegetables if defined as 80g – the equivalent of a small banana, a pear or three heaped tablespoons of spinach or peas.

The team also identified specific fruit and veg that reduced the risk of cancer and heart disease.

The research team also found that risk of cancer could be reduced by eating green vegetables, such as spinach or green beans, yellow vegetables, such as peppers and carrots, and cruciferous vegetables.

Apples and pears, citrus fruits, salads and green leafy vegetables such as spinach and lettuce, and cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage, may assist in protection against heart disease, stroke, cardiovascular disease, and early death, they said.

The results, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, also assessed the risk of dying before your time.

Compared with eating no fruit or veg a day, it showed:

  • 200g cut the risk of cardiovascular disease by 13% while 800g cut the risk by 28%
  • 200g cut the risk of cancer by 4%, while 800g cut the risk by 13%
  • 200g cut the risk of a premature death by 15%, while 800g cut the risk by 31%

Dr Dagfinn Aune, lead author of the research from the School of Public Health at Imperial explained: “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, ten a day is even better.”

Dr Aune added: “We need further research into the effects of specific types of fruits and vegetables and preparation methods of fruit and vegetables. We also need more research on the relationship between fruit and vegetable intake with causes of death other than cancer and cardiovascular disease. However, it is clear from this work that a high intake of fruit and vegetables hold tremendous health benefits, and we should try to increase their intake in our diet.”


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