Intake of 10 portions or 800 grammes of fruit and vegetables a day may potentially prevent approximately 7.8 million premature deaths worldwide every year, say researchers.
The results, published in the journal International Journal of Epidemiology, revealed that eating up to 800g fruit and vegetables a day – or 10 portions – was associated with a 24 per cent reduced risk of heart disease, a 33 per cent reduced risk of stroke, a 28 per cent reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, a 13 per cent reduced risk of total cancer, and a 31 per cent reduction in dying prematurely.
“We wanted to investigate how much fruit and vegetables you need to eat to gain the maximum protection against disease, and premature death. Our results suggest that although five portions of fruit and vegetables is good, ten a day is even better,” said lead author Dagfinn Aune from Imperial College, London.
The researchers found that apples and pears, citrus fruits, salads and green leafy vegetables such as spinach, lettuce and chicory, and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower, may reduce the risk of specific diseases.
“Fruit and vegetables have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels, blood pressure and to boost the health of our blood vessels and immune system. This may be due to the complex network of nutrients they hold. For instance they contain many antioxidants, which may reduce DNA damage and lead to a reduction in cancer risk,” Aune added.
For the study, the team conducted a meta-analysis of all available research in populations worldwide, included up to 2 million people, and assessed up to 43,000 cases of heart disease, 47,000 cases of stroke, 81,000 cases of cardiovascular disease, 112,000 cancer cases and 94,000 deaths.