Anyone wanting the maximum protection against heart disease, cancer and early death should eat 800 grams of fruit and vegetables a day, double the government's advice, a large study has shown.
The study was conducted by researchers from the Imperial College in London and it shows that consumption of 10 portions of 800 grams (which is double the World Health Organization recommendation) of fruit and vegetables every day may potentially prevent about 7.8 million premature deaths worldwide every year.
They found eating more fruit and veg was linked to a lower risk of getting these diseases and dying early when eating up to 800g a day (around 10 portions), or 600g a day for cancer.
"Most likely it is the whole package of beneficial nutrients you obtain by eating fruits and vegetables that is crucial [for] health", he explains. "This may be due to the complex network of nutrients they hold", lead author Dr Dagfinn Aune said. Dr. Aune said these contain antioxidants that reduce the DNA damages that reduce the cancer risk.
Here's the comedown from the 'I just ate two apples!' high: apparently we should be eating ten portions of fruit and veg a day - not just five.
The researchers do not know if eating even more fruit and veg would have even greater health benefits as there is little evidence out there to review. If we assume that 80g is one portion, that's 10 portions a day. It gives you at least a portion and avoids the added sugars in many ready-made options.
However, now a new research, led by scientists from Imperial College London, says that ten a day may be even better.
Meanwhile, a separate story published in the journal Thorax, found that a fruit and veg-rich diet is linked to much lower risk of chronic lung disease. The team also found out certain fruit and vegetable that reduced the risk of cancer and heart disorders. When the portion was increased to 800g, a dramatic difference was observed in the benefits.
She also recommends taking an hour after grocery shopping to chop, quick-cook, and portion whole veggies and fruits into plastic baggies or containers.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, recommend that adults who get less than 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day should eat 1.5 to 2 cups of fruit and two to three cups of vegetables daily.
"However, we need more studies on specific types of fruit and vegetables because relatively few of the studies in our analysis had looked at this issue", said Aune.