Spring 2018 True Natural Health Magazine
Compiled by Roger French
Researchers are saying that even one third of the Australian recommended intake of fruit and vegetables daily can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer and premature death, but if we make it ten portions, the benefit is much greater.
Increasing the consumption of fruit and veg to 10 serves a day might save 7.8 million premature deaths worldwide on an annual basis, they say.
These findings of a study conducted at the Imperial College of London show that as little as 200 grams daily is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease by 16%, of stroke by 18%, of cardiovascular disease by 13%, of cancer by 4% and of premature death by 15%.
The lead author of the research, Dr Dagfinn Aune, explained, “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, 10 a day is even better.”
Consuming 10 serves a day of fruit and vegetables, that is, 800 grams – which is one-and-a-half times the recommended quantity in Australia – was associated with considerably greater reductions in the risks in these diseases, namely heart disease by 24%, stroke by 33%, cardiovascular disease by 28%, total cancer by 13% and premature deaths by 31%.
The benefits of some fruits and vegetables were found to be outstanding. Those which are superior at preventing heart disease and stroke are apples and pears, citrus fruits, salads which include green leafy vegetables such as spinach, lettuce and chicory, and the cruciferous vegetables broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower.
The vegetables most effective for reducing the risk of cancer are green vegetables, the yellow and orange vegetables capsicum and carrots, and cruciferous vegetables.
The researchers found equal protection from cooked and raw fruit and vegetables.
“Fruit and vegetables have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels and blood pressure, and to boost the health of our blood vessels and immune systems,” said Dr Aune. “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.”
Compounds in cruciferous vegetables called glucosinolates convert in our bodies to sulphoraphane, which is known to prevent cancer and destroy cancer cells. The fibre in fruits and vegetables is well known to nourish our friendly gut bacteria.
Dr Aune declared that it is not possible to put all the benefits of fruit and vegetables in a pill, because “it is most likely that the whole package of beneficial nutrients you obtain by eating fruits and vegetables is crucial to health. This is why it is important to eat whole plant foods”.
He continued, “It is clear from this work that a high intake of fruit and vegetables holds tremendous health benefits, and we should try to increase their intake in our diet”.
Sarah Toule, of the World Cancer Research Fund, supported Dr Aune’s findings:
“People should aim to eat at least five portions of vegetables and fruit a day, but the more the better. If people find this difficult, why not start by adding an extra portion of fruit or veg a day to your lunch or try swapping one of your naughty snacks for a piece of fruit?”
Most facts and figures based on an article by Sarah Boseley, Health editor of The Guardian, Australian Edition, 23rd February 2017