Remember that old health adage about eating five servings of fruits and vegetables daily to remain healthy? According to new research, that’s not nearly enough. A recent study says you have to double those daily amounts — to ten servings a day — to get maximum health benefits.
That’s a lot of fruits and vegetables everyday, but the stats that the researchers at the Imperial College London present are pretty impressive. They say if you consume 10 portions a day, or 800 grams, it can prevent an estimated 7.8 million premature deaths worldwide. The breakdown of the individual health benefits of having 10 portions a day could result in a 24 percent reduced risk of heart disease, 33 percent reduced risk of stroke, 28 percent reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, 13 percent reduced risk of total cancer, and 31 percent of reduction in dying prematurely. This was in comparison to individuals who didn’t eat any fruit or vegetables at all.
“Fruit and vegetables have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and to boost the health of our blood vessels and immune system. This may be due to the complex network of nutrients they hold,” said lead author Dr. Dagfinn Aune. “For instance they contain many antioxidants, which may reduce DNA damage, and lead to a reduction in cancer risk.”
Research found that the big benefits from eating more fruit like apples, pears and oranges, as well as vegetables like lettuce, broccoli and cabbage, work particularly well in preventing strokes, heart disease and early death. Reduction in the risk of cancer comes from green and yellow vegetables like spinach, peppers and carrots.
Even though pills provide plenty of fast and quick fixes these days, Dr. Aune says that the vast benefits of getting these nutritional compounds in their natural state cannot be easily replicated in that synthetic form.
“Most likely it is the whole package of beneficial nutrients you obtain by eating fruits and vegetables that is crucial is health,” he says. “This is why 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).”
Just like the dietary adage above, the World Health Organization (WHO) does recommend eating five portions or 400 grams of fruit and vegetables per day. But Dr. Aune says if you want a real health upgrade, you need to boost your daily fruit and veggie intake — and he means double your servings.
“We wanted to investigate how much fruit and vegetables you need to eat to gain the maximum protection against disease, and premature death,” Dr. Aune said. “Our results suggest that although five portions of fruit and vegetables is good, ten a day is even better.”