Eating seven or more fruit and veggies a day may reduce death by 42% says study

By Caribbean Medical News Staff

According to a recent University College of London study, eating seven or more servings of fruit and vegetables may reduce your risk of death by forty-two per cent in the English population.

Researchers used the Health Survey for England and studied that eating habits of 65 266 people between 2001 and 2013. The study concluded that the more fruit and vegetables they ate, the less likely they were to die at any age.

The study also indicated that eating less than one portion only decreased death by 14%, 29% for three to five portions, 36% for five to seven portions and 42% for seven portions or more. Indeed, the survey also suggested that risk of death by cancer and heart disease was significantly reduced by 25% and 31% respectively and vegetables also had significantly higher benefits as a food group than fruit.

According to reports, these figures “are adjusted for sex, age, cigarette smoking, social class, Body Mass Index, education, physical activity and alcohol intake, and exclude deaths within a year of the food survey.”

“The study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, reported that fresh vegetables had the strongest protective effect, with each daily portion reducing overall risk of death by 16%.  Fresh salads also contributed a 13% risk reduction per portion, and each portion of fresh fruit was associated with a smaller but still significant 4% reduction”, the report indicated.

“We all know that eating fruit and vegetables is healthy, but the size of the effect is staggering,” said Dr Oyinlola Oyebode of UCL’s Department of Epidemiology & Public Health, lead author of the study.

Negative impact of sugar outweigh benefits

“The clear message here is that the more fruit and vegetables you eat, the less likely you are to die at any age. Vegetables have a larger effect than fruit, but fruit still makes a real difference.  If you’re happy to snack on carrots or other vegetables, then that is a great choice but if you fancy something sweeter, a banana or any fruit will also do you good.”

Interestingly, the researchers did not find any benefit from fruit juices or canned and frozen fruit. Indeed, canned and frozen fruit were said to increase death by 17% per portion.

According to reports the survey “did not distinguish between canned and frozen fruit so this finding is difficult to interpret. Canned fruit products are almost four times more popular than frozen fruit in Europe, so it is likely that canned fruit dominated this effect.”

“Most canned fruit contains high sugar levels and cheaper varieties are packed in syrup rather than fruit juice, “said Dr Oyebode. “The negative health impacts of the sugar may well outweigh any benefits.

“Another possibility is that there are confounding factors that we could not control for, such as poor access to fresh groceries among people who have pre-existing health conditions, hectic lifestyles or who live in deprived area”, she said.


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