Why seven fruit and veg a day is better than five

Apr 1, 2014

Eating seven portions of fruit and veg per day can prolong your life, researchers have found


EATING seven portions of fruit and vegetables per day could have significant health benefits over the five currently recommended, researchers say.

A study of 65,226 men and women in the UK found that eating seven portions of fruit and vegetables could help to prolong life.

Researchers from University College London looked at data from the National Health Survey to analyse people's reported eating habits between 2001 and 2008.

The study looked at the rates of general mortality as well as focusing on death from cancer, heart disease and stroke, the BBC reports. In every case, researchers found that the more fruit and vegetables people ate, the more their risk of death fell.

"We all know that eating fruit and vegetables is healthy, but the size of the effect is staggering," said Oyinlola Oyebode, of University College London, the lead author of the study.

Some experts suggested that other factors may have an effect, including age, social class and the decline of smoking, but even taking these into account, the findings of the study seem significant.

People who consumed between one and three portions of fruit and vegetables per day were 14 per cent less likely to die at a given age than those who ate fewer than one. Increasing the intake to between three and five portions brought the risk of death down by 29 per cent, and five to seven by 36 per cent.

People who ate more than seven portions of fruit and vegetables per day were 42 per cent less likely to die at a given age than those eating less than one.

While the findings seem clear, many experts said that changing the government's health advice may not actually be beneficial.

Professor Richard Tiffin, of the University of Reading, told The Times: "I don't think we should change the message every time new evidence emerges... If we keep changing such messages, people could be forgiven for thinking that scientists can't make up their minds, or, worse for public health implications, that they don't know what they're talking about."

Sign up for our daily newsletter