10-a-day is even better than 5-a-day

A study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology suggests that eating 10 portions of fruit and vegetables per day confers even greater benefits to health than the 5 portions per day recommended by the World Health Organisation. A portion of fruit or vegetables weighs 80 grams (3 oz) – the equivalent of a small banana, a pear or three heaped tablespoons of spinach or peas. All kinds of beans and pulses such as kidney beans and lentils also count as a portion of vegetables.

After pooling dietary data from 95 separate studies, including two million people, the researchers found that compared with people who consume no fruit and vegetables:
· 200g (2½ portions) of fruit and vegetables cut the risk of cardiovascular disease by 13% while 800g (10 portions) 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%.

In the UK, only around one in three people meet the 5 portions per day target. One person who comfortably meets the target is 24-year old vegan Heather Saunders from Oxford, featured in an article describing the results of the study on the BBC website (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-39057146). We are told that Heather eats “two pieces of fruit with breakfast, a ‘massive pot’ of roasted vegetables at lunch and then at least four vegetables in curries or chillies in the evening.” Her advice to anyone trying to increase their fruit and vegetable intake is “to have one or two meat-free days a week”. Better still, why not follow Heather’s example and have seven animal food-free days per week.

Paul Appleby

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