So today we woke up to the news that 10 portions of fruit and vegetables is the new 5 a day.
95 studies on fruit and vegetables have been analysed by researcher at the Imperial College of London. They found that the most benefit came from eating 800g per day, as 80g is a portion this equates to a whopping 10 portions a day.
Consuming 10 portions a day was associated with a 24% reduced risk of heart disease, a 33% lower risk of stroke, a 28% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, a 13% reduced risk of cancer, and a 31% reduction in the risk of premature death. This may be due to the levels of antioxidants they contain as well as their fibre content. Eating 10 portions will also potentially mean that less processed foods are being consumed, so implies an overal healthier diet and lifestyle.
This isn’t to say that eating less is not worth doing however as there are still significant health benefits from eating any amounts of fruit and veggies. For example helping to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Specifically apples and pears, citrus fruits, salads and green leafy vegetables (kale, spinach, lettuce), cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower) may help protect against heart disease, stroke, cardiovascular disease, and early death. Eating green vegetables, yellow vegetables and cruciferous vegetables could help protect against cancer risks.
Is it Achievable?
The problem is that in the UK many people are not even meeting the 5 a day target. Suddenly asking them to eat 10 portions a day is unrealistic and laughable for some. I myself currently eat 7-8 portions a day, having increased this from 5 a day. I could increase this further but I have a gut issue and personally I think I am on my limit.
For some people this level of fibre intake is not going to be a good plan. Those with digestive disorders such as diverticulitis, some people with IBS or Crohns disease or an inflamed gut.
So it is all about small increases and working towards eating more.
I’ve already heard the words “too much sugar” mentioned. Do not panic people. Put your sugar finger pointing fingers down. The sugar in fruit is not a “free sugar”. It is contained within a fibrous matrix and so it is not released into your blood stream as quickly as eating pure sugar or honey.
Having said this, I would still recommend you focus on eating more vegetables and not too much fruit. Remember dried fruit is a more concentrated form of sugar so watch your portion sizes of this. Juices and smoothies should be limited to maximum one a day. So really we are looking at upping the whole fruit and veg.
10 portions a day:
So what could it look like?
Breakfast: Cereal with 80g berries and 1 tbsp raisins. 2 portions
Snack: Banana and nuts. 1 portion
Lunch: 1/2 avocado on toast topped with tuna served with a side salad. 2 portions
Snack: 1 chopped carrot with 1 tbsp hummus. 1 portion
Dinner: Chicken casserole and rice with 2 portions of vegetables. 1 glass of fruit juice. 3 portions
Snack: Chopped apple and yoghurt 1 portion
My take home message:
JUST EAT MORE FRUIT AND VEGETABLES.
Focus on increasing it gradually. As with anything this is a habit that needs to be formed and it doesn’t happen overnight. Set yourself small goals like adding fruit to your breakfast or having a vegetable based snack each day and build on it.
I’d love to hear how many portions of fruit and veg you currently eat and how you plan to increase it.