Diet and Nutrition: Learn more, live more

By Frank Bolger - Last update

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When we hear the old adage of ‘5-a-day’, most people immediately recognise a general call to action for us consume at least 5 portions of fruit and veg each day as a means of safeguarding better health. But researchers at the University College London (UCL) have put the familiar maxim under close scrutiny, and are now suggesting it may be time for a change.

The researchers spent some 12 years studying the eating habits of some 65,000 people in England. The data they amassed in that time revealed that people who ate 7 or more portions per day had a 42 per cent reduced risk of death compared with those who consumed only one. It also found that having 7 or more portions reduced a person’s risk of dying of cancer by 25 per cent and of heart disease by 31 per cent.

The study’s publication in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health prompted doctors from the University of Liverpool to suggest that the current five-a-day guide ‘might provide a false reassurance and risk complacency’ among people. They also posed the question: ‘Is it perhaps now time to update the “five- a-day” message to “10-a-day” ‘.

Some may counter the study’s findings by claiming that they have barely enough time in the day to manage 5 portions, let alone 10. However, such responses are surely missing the point: putting in that extra bit effort is a long-term investment in which the reward couldn’t be greater – a longer, healthier life.

Frank Bolger

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