Forget five a day: You need SEVEN portions of fresh fruit and veg per day to live longer, says new research

 

Senior Reporter

Eating seven or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day gives people a far greater chance of staving off an early death, according to a study published on Tuesday, which suggests that the Government’s official “five a day” recommendation should be doubled to 10.

Researchers found that eating seven fruit and vegetable helpings a day reduced a person’s risk of dying of cancer by 25 per cent and of heart disease by 31 per cent. But in a surprising finding, eating tinned and frozen fruit appeared to increase the risk.

Current NHS guidance, which is in turn based on advice from the UN’s World Health Organization, states that every person in Britain should try to have five different 80g portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

Examining the eating habits of 65,000 people in England between 2001 and 2013, the researchers from University College London (UCL) found that people who ate seven or more portions daily had a 42 per cent reduced risk of death overall compared to those who managed just one.

Fresh vegetables were found to have the strongest protective effect, followed by salad and then fruit. Overall, vegetables pack more of a protective punch than fruit, the authors said.

The study was published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. In an accompanying editorial, public health doctors from the University of Liverpool said the findings prompted the question: “Is it perhaps now time for the UK to update the ‘five a day’ message to ‘ 10 a day’?”

The doctors added that as a maximum recommended daily amount of fruit and vegetables “could not easily be defined”, the Government’s current five a day guide “might provide a false reassurance and risk complacency” among people who already ate that amount. “They need to aim higher,” they added.

“We all know that eating fruit and vegetables is healthy, but the size of the effect is staggering,” said the study’s lead author Dr Oyinlola Oyebode of UCL’s Department of Epidemiology and Public Health. “The clear message here is that the more fruit and vegetables you eat, the less likely you are to die at any age.”

The research suggested that vegetables are more effective at warding off an early death than fruit. Two to three daily portions of vegetables resulted in a 19 per cent lower risk of death among those studied, compared with 10 per cent for the equivalent amount of fruit.

In Australia, official health advice encourages people to eat two helpings of fruit and five portions of vegetables a day. The authors said their findings suggested that the “two plus five” diet was a sensible approach.

The most controversial finding was that tinned and frozen fruit increased a person’s risk of death by 17 per cent, which the authors suggested may be down to the high amounts of sugar contained in many brands, cancelling out the positive effect of the fruit itself.

“Most canned fruit contains high sugar levels and cheaper varieties are packed in syrup rather than fruit juice,” Dr Oyebode said. “The negative health impacts of the sugar may well outweigh any benefits.”

However, other scientists raised concerns about reading too much into the link because the researchers were not able to rule out other aggravating factors, such as poor access to fresh groceries or pre-existing health conditions.

Dr Gunter Kuhnle, a food scientist from the University of Reading, said: “It’s possible that eating tinned fruits are an indicator of high sugar intake, but it might also be a marker of poverty or lower socioeconomic class. As there is no data, it’s simply not possible to speculate.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Engineering Project Manager - Vehicle Design and Build

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Engineering Project Manager ...

Recruitment Genius: Network Support Engineer

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading manufacturer and i...

Recruitment Genius: Document Controller

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Document Controller is required to join a le...

Recruitment Genius: Document Controller

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Document Controller is required to join a le...

Day In a Page

A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms
What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist? Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories

What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist?

Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories
Chinese web dissenters using coded language to dodge censorship filters and vent frustration at government

Are you a 50-center?

Decoding the Chinese web dissenters
The Beatles film Help, released 50 years ago, signalled the birth of the 'metrosexual' man

Help signalled birth of 'metrosexual' man

The Beatles' moptop haircuts and dandified fashion introduced a new style for the modern Englishman, says Martin King
Hollywood's new diet: Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?

Hollywood's new diet trends

Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?
6 best recipe files

6 best recipe files

Get organised like a Bake Off champion and put all your show-stopping recipes in one place
Ashes 2015: Steven Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Middlesex bowler claims Ashes hat-trick of Clarke, Voges and Marsh
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works