According to a new UK study, eating seven or more portions of vitamin- and carotenoid-rich fruit and vegetables a day reduces the mortality risk at any point in time by 42% compared to eating less than one portion.
The observational study analyzed health survey data on the eating habits of 65,226 people representative of the English population between 2001 and 2013 (1). The analysis showed that the more fruit and vegetables the participants ate, the less likely they were to die at any age: eating seven or more portions reduced the specific risks of death by cancer and heart disease by 25% and 31% respectively. Compared to eating less than one portion of fruit and vegetables, the risk of death by any cause was reduced by 14% by eating one to three portions, 29% for three to five portions, 36% for five to seven portions and 42% for seven or more. Fresh vegetables had the strongest protective effect, with each daily portion reducing overall risk of death by 16%. The figures were adjusted for sex, age, cigarette smoking, social class, Body Mass Index, education, physical activity and alcohol intake, and exclude deaths within a year of the food survey.
The researchers commented that while the UK Department of Health recommends five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, the new data support the Australian government’s guideline to 'Go for 2 + 5', which re- commends eating two portions of fruit and five of vegetables a day. However, they said that people should not feel daunted by a big target like seven portions. Whatever the starting point is, it is always worth eating more fruit and vegetables.