For years the 5 a day target has been drummed into us, and just when you think you have managed to consume 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day, new advice doubles the target. Researchers at the University College in London have suggested that people aim to eat 7 to 10 portions of fruit a day.
Currently the NHS advises people to eat five 80g portions of fruit and vegetables a day, in order to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and obesity. Dr Oyinlola Oyebode and her team believe we should be eating more fresh fruit and vegetables because “the more fruit and vegetables you eat, the less likely you are to die at any age”.
The study used the National Health Survey which involved 65,226 men and women across England. Data was analysed form the questionnaires between 2001 and 2013 to gain a snap shot insight into the positive effects of eating fruit and vegetables.
|Portions of fruit and vegetables eaten a day and reduced risk of dying|
The researchers also noted that vegetables were most beneficial, followed by salad and then fruit. Fruit juice provided little/no health benefit and canned fruit and vegetables actually raised health risks, probably due to their high sugar content (they’re often preserved in syrup). Although vegetables are best Dr Oyebode says “fruit still makes a real difference”, plus it is never too late to reap the rewards of eating fruit and vegetables.
But, the study has come under criticism for two reasons. One: what about other contributory factors like smoking, drinking and exercise that may affect a person’s risk of premature death? Two: 2/3 of people struggle to meet the current 5 a day guide line, it’s doubtful they will accomplish 7 a day let alone 10 a day target. Dr Alison Tedstone suggests “we keep it simple and stay as we are”.
However, Dr Oyebode stresses that “people shouldn’t feel daunted by a target like 7. Whatever your starting point, it is always worth eating more fruit and vegetables.”
Well there you go, don’t panic; gradually build your way up to including more fruit and vegetables in your diet. Or if you never eat them, start! They don’t bite, we promise.
In case you are unsure, here are some examples of a ‘portion’.
80 grams=1 portion, in other words:
|1/2||Avocado, Grapefruit, Pepper|
|1||Large sweet potato, Medium: Apple, Banana, Carrot, Nectarine, Onion, Peach, Pear, Tomato|
|2||Kiwis, Inches of cucumber, Spears of broccoli|
|3||Apricots, Sticks of celery, Tablespoons of beans, Table spoons of lentils|
|8||Brussels sprouts, Florets of cauliflower|