The 12-year study, by University College of London researchers, reported on death rates of more than 65,000 people in England and revealed that those who ate more fruit and vegetables were the least likely to die.
By comparing intakes of less than one portion of fruit and vegetables a day, researchers discovered that one to three portions was associated with a fall in risk of death by 14%, three to five by 29%, five to seven portions by 36% and more than seven by 42%. So even a small increase is beneficial, claims the report.
A third of 35- to 44 – year olds eat less than one portion of fruit and vegetables a day and only a third of adults eat five-a-day, so seven would be a challenging target for many.
The study found vegetables to be more beneficial than fruit; this is not new and is perhaps explained by the broader range of nutrients and other bioactives typically provided by vegetables.
In isolation, the study does not provide enough evidence to alter the recommendation.
Interestingly, the US has focused on advising people to eat more fruit and vegetables, with the slogan, ‘fruit and veggies – more matters’, rather than focusing on a number.