Fruit and vegetables: How much should we be eating?

Happy fruit and veg

The news today is full of the study that showed that the current government recommendation of 5 portions a day of fruit and vegetables may not be sufficient and that we should be aiming for 7+ (preferably made up of 5 vegetable portions and 2 fruit portions). The conclusion the report drew was the following

"A robust inverse association exists between fruit and vegetable consumption and mortality, with benefits seen in up to 7+ portions daily."

The most common question I have seen is is this an April Fool? No. This is a real study which can be found here at The Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health entitled Fruit and vegetable consumption and all-cause, cancer and CVD mortality: analysis of Health Survey for England data

The second most common question I have seen is 'How are we supposed to fit 7 portions of fruit and vegetables in?' To this my answer is that a portion of fruit and vegetables is actually very small.

5 portions of fruit and vegetables
This is what 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day looks like.

One thing I think the reports of the study have been misleading over is this  "The researchers also discovered that canned and frozen fruit increased the risk of dying by 17 per cent."

The authors of the study made several pertinent points about this

    • Nutritionally, frozen fruit is generally held to be equivalent to fresh fruit.
    • Because of the questions asked, consumption of canned fruit cannot be distinguished
      from frozen fruit.
    • They didn't allow for factors sometimes associated with consumption of frozen and canned fruit, such as socio-economic deprivation and chronic ill-health

Frozen fruit is a cheap and easy alternative to fresh fruit and is just as good for you as fresh fruit.

The bottom line, to me,  is that fruit and vegetables are good for you, they are chock full of vitamins and minerals that the body needs and there is evidence that they could have a protective effect against disease.  Try to eat at least 5 portions a day and those portions should come from a variety of sources (the general rule of thumb is darker and brighter the colour of the vegetable the more vitamins, minerals and fibre they usually contain).  Make including fruit/vegetables in your food as part of your routine such as having an apple for breakfast, adding sliced tomato to your lunch and having at least 2 vegetables with your supper. And above all yes the fruit you put in your Pimms in the summer does count 😉

 

Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG / FreeDigitalPhotos.net