Eating apples, pears, citrus fruits, salads and green leafy vegetables above ten portions a day may reduce the chances of heart attack, stroke, cancer and early death, suggests a study.
This is the finding of new research, led by scientists from Imperial College London, which analysed 95 studies on fruit and vegetable intake. They found that although the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day reduced disease risk, the greatest benefit came from eating 800 gm a day (roughly equivalent to ten portions – one portion of fruit or vegetables if defined as 80 gm).
The study, which was 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.
In the research, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, the team estimate approximately 7.8 million premature deaths worldwide could be potentially prevented every year if people ate 10 portions, or 800gm, of fruits and vegetables a day.
The team also analysed which types of fruit and vegetables provided the greatest protection against disease.
“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 study author Dr Dagfinn Aune.
The results revealed that even a daily intake of 200gm was associated with a 16% reduced risk of heart disease, an 18% reduced risk of stroke, and a 13% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
This amount, which is equivalent to two-and-a-half portions, was also associated with 4% reduction risk in cancer risk and 15% reduction in the risk of premature death.
They found the following fruits and vegetables may help prevent heart disease, stroke, cardiovascular disease, and early death: 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.
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