The current UK recommendations are to eat at least 5/day of fruit and vegetables, this is about ⅓ of our daily food intake. However, a study by Imperial College in 20172 found you would need to eat 10 portions of fruit and veg each day to gain the maximum protection against disease and premature mortality. In practice, one would need to consume 800g of fruit and veg/day (10 x 80 g portions).
Consuming 800g of fruit/veg per day was found to be associated with:
- a 24% reduced risk of heart disease
- a 33% reduced risk of stroke
- a 28% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease
- a 13% reduced risk of total cancer
- a 31% reduction in dying prematurely
Although these statistics are impressive, it’s worth bearing in mind that they were calculated in comparison to not eating any fruit and vegetables at all. Also, with the majority of the population not even consuming the 5/day recommendation, increasing this to 10/day may be too unrealistic of a target. However, it is interesting to see just how many fruit and vegetables are needed in the diet, irrespective of consumption of animal protein, for health benefits.
We know that low grade inflammation is a risk factor and trigger for many non-communicable diseases. Suggested mechanisms for actions are that fruit and vegetables help improve gut health, attenuate inflammation and promote healthy immune functioning. Aiming to eat 5-10 portions of a large variety of fruits, vegetables will also help to meet the recommended fibre intake (30g/day).