Ten fruit & veg portions a day offers 'maximum protection'

The question this latest study asked was simple: is there any health benefit from eating 10 fruit and veg portions a day - 800g worth - instead of the now recommended five?

Researchers claim upping daily intakes would prevent 7,200 cancer deaths and nearly 14,000 from strokes every year.

Up to 7.8 million deaths per year could be prevented if people were to eat 10 portions of fresh fruit and vegetables each day as opposed to the familiar "five-a-day" mantra that has been pushed by health experts in Britain for more than a decade.

The findings, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, also evaluated the risk of dying before your time.

New advice that we should all be eating 10 portions of fruit and vegetables a day has sent social media users into meltdown - with many branding the latest guidance "impossible". Apples, pears, citrus fruits, salads, green leafy vegetables and cruciferous veg like cauliflower were highlighted as helping against heart disease and stroke, while green veg, yellow veg and cruciferous veg were shown to lower the risk of cancer.

It also meant a 31% reduction in the risk of premature death.

When it comes to fruit and vegetables, it seems that the benefits keep growing the more you eat.

The study, which analyzed 95 cases of vegetable and fruit consumption, found that while the recommended five portions of produce a day were beneficial, 10 portions were even better. Fewer than a third of British adults are thought to meet even the present target.

The team were not able to investigate intakes greater than 800 g a day, as this was the high end of the range across studies.

Thankfully, the researchers didn't any difference in benefits when the fruit and vegetables were raw vs cooked - meaning you can prepare your healthy stuff however you please.

Specifically, they claimed that vegetables such as spinach, peppers and cauliflower are effective in lowering the risk of cancer.

Including these food items has been shown to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure and boost the immune system, Dr Aune said.

'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", Dr Aune said.

He added that compounds called glucosinolates in cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, activate enzymes that may help prevent cancer.

To help you with that, here's five tips for eating more fruit and veg. This is why it is important to eat whole plant foods to get the benefit, instead of taking antioxidant or vitamin supplements (which have not been shown to reduce disease risk).

The average United Kingdom intake of fruit and vegetables is four portions a day, with just a quarter of men aged 19 to 64 hitting the target, and 28 per cent of women.

  • Joanne Flowers