Recently there have been suggestions that seven portions of fruit and vegetables a day are necessary to promote optimum health. A new study into the benefits of fruit and veg contradicts this however, saying that the reduction in risk of dying plateaus after just five servings.
The study was carried out by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health and Shandong University in China. The research itself analysed data from 16 studies that examined diet and health for between four and 26 years. It was found that every portion of fruit or veg consumed reduced the risk of dying early by 5%. However, this only remained to be the case up until five portions were consumed. Six or more portions were linked to a 24% reduction in death, showing that after five portions the benefits plateau.
In contrast to this, earlier this year a study carried out by the University College London found that seven or more portions of fruit and veg reduced the risk of dying by 42%. Author of this study, Dr Oyinlola Oyebode said that the more recent study carried out in China had more data and may give a ‘more precise’ answer regarding the health benefits of fruit and vegetables.
Dr Oyebode did add however that the participants were Chinese and most probably ate different fruits and vegetables to those in her UK-based study.
“The fact remains that most people do not eat five portions a day, the average in our study was three portions. So the central message to eat more fruit and vegetables hasn’t changed,” she said.
Victoria Taylor, Senior Dietitian at the British Heart Foundation commented to say that the study is yet another reminder that fruit and vegetables should form a significant part of our diet, not just an after thought. She also highlighted that even though the ‘five-a-day’ message is well established, a worrying 70% of adults are failing to meet this target.