An apple a day keeps the doctor away, or so they used to say. The World Health Organization now recommends that you should be consuming five portions of fruit or veg a day to stay healthy, but a new study has suggested that these benefits are increased if you up this to 10 portions a day.
The latest research claims that to get the full health benefits from fruit and veg, a fairly full-on 10 portions a day is recommended. They researchers found that while the current recommendations did reduce the risk of diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, and stroke, this benefit can be improved upon if people up their consumption to 800 grams (28 ounces) of fruit and veg a day, with 80 grams (3 ounces) being equivalent to one portion.
What constitutes one portion of fruit or veg varies depending on what it is you are consuming, in addition to what specific nutrients they also contain. For example, while one banana is one portion, you’d have to eat three apricots or 14 cherries to get the equivalent. When it comes to the veggies, it again depends on what you’re putting in your food hole. Two broccoli spears would do it, as would four heaped tablespoons of spinach, or three sticks of celery. You can find here other more specific examples of portion size.
The paper, published in the Journal of Epidemiology, analyzed 95 studies looking into the benefits of eating fruit and vegetables for more than 2 million people around the globe. After taking into account other factors such as smoking, activity levels, and weight, they found that eating 800 grams of fruit and veg a day was associated with a 24 percent reduced risk of heart disease, 33 percent reduced risk of stroke, and a 13 percent reduced risk of total cancer.
While it is obviously laudable to consume more fruit and veg in your diet, most people don’t even achieve the current recommendation of five a day. In fact, it is thought that few than one-in-three currently meet this target, so telling people that they should really be eating twice this is probably going to have little actual impact on people's habits.
But fear not, because the study still supports the five-a-day recommendation, and the researchers are not suggesting a change in this policy, simply suggesting that the more you eat, the greater the benefits. They found that even eating just 200 grams (7 oz), or 2.5 portions of fruit and veg, a day was associated with a 16 percent cut in risk of heart disease, 18 percent cut in risk of stroke, and 13 percent reduction in risk of cardiovascular disease.