Food & Drink

Squishing in ‘10-a-day’ would save millions of lives

By Kitty Knowles 23 February 2017
Summary

Five portions of fruit and veg just isn't enough. But is 10 really doable?

Many of us find getting five-a-day a challenge – in fact, fewer than one in three of us actually manage to meet this target.

That’s why today, we can practically hear your groans, as a new even higher bar has been set:

You should now aim for 10-a-day.

Is 10-a-day doable?

It sounds like a lot, but eating up to ten portions of fruit and vegetables a day could prevent 7.8m premature deaths worldwide, new research from Imperial College London has found.

“Although five portions of fruit and vegetables is good, ten a day is even better,” said Dr Dagfinn Aune, who analysed 95 different studies (and 2m people) for the research.

You can think of an ‘portion’ as roughly one small banana, apple, pear or large mandarin – or three heaped tablespoons of cooked spinach, peas, broccoli or cauliflower (each portion should weigh in at around 80g).

Big benefits

Just 200g (two and a half portions) of the good stuff results in a 6% reduced risk of heart disease, an 18% reduced risk of stroke, and a 13% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.

But by comparison, if you succeed in stuffing in 800g, you’ll benefit from a 24% reduced risk of heart disease, a 33% reduced risk of stroke, a 28% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.

While the smaller amount led to a 4% reduced risk in cancer risk and 15% reduced risk of premature death; the latter leads to a 13% reduced risk of total cancer, and a 31% reduction in dying prematurely.

Squishing in even more fruit and veg could improve your health further, as the study itself was capped at 800g a day.

The evidence is in

Foods including Apples and pears, citrus fruits, both leafy and cruciferous vegetables were found to help prevent heart problems; while spinach, green beans, yellow peppers, and carrots were among foods found to reduce cancer risk.

“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 Dr Aune.

“It is important to eat whole plant foods to get the benefit, instead of taking antioxidant or vitamin supplements (which have not been shown to reduce disease risk).”

The evidence is in: 5-a-day simply isn’t enough.

You might not want to, but it’s time to eat your greens.