If you were already struggling to get your five recommended portions of fruit and vegetables a day, then hold onto your hat because the stakes just got raised. According to a new study from Imperial College London, eating 10 portions of fruit and vegetables on a daily basis could help prevent 7.8 million premature deaths each year.
Don't get yourself down – they say five portions a day is still good, it's just that 10 is even better. The study looked at the research of 95 separate studies which included almost two million people.
TBH, 10 fruits and/or veg (80g counts as one portion – for reference, the average banana is 120g, ditto for the average full-sized carrot) a day sounds like quite a tall order. So if you're feeling daunted, let's take a look at which fruits and veg the researchers found may help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, cardiovascular disease and early death to make sure that, if you are going for the full 10, every bite counts.
Ok, ready? Dr. Dagfinn Aune (the study's spectacularly named author) and his team recommend eating apples and pears, citrus fruits, salads and green leafy vegetables such as "spinach, lettuce and chicory" and "cruciferous" vegetables which, despite their terrifying name, are actually the rather underwhelming likes of cabbage, turnip, broccoli and cauliflower.
Dr. Aune's team also found that green vegetables (think spinach, green beans, mange tout, asparagus – all the usual suspects), yellow vegetables (they say carrots, I say those are orange) and cruciferous vegetables (those guys again) could help reduce the risk of cancer. However, more studies are needed to determine whether eating these raw or cooked is most beneficial.
"Fruit and vegetables have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels, blood pressure and to boost the health of our blood vessels and immune system," Dr. Aune said, adding that no, despite how many Beroccas you're nailing a day, taking supplements and vitamins isn't a viable alternative to eating whole foods.
Obviously, things like smoking, drinking and not exercising can have an impact on life expectancy, too, but, even in cases where these are prevalent, fruit and veg intake was still found to be beneficial.
BRB, off to buy three bags of spinach and a cauliflower for lunch.