7 portions a day

Is it really necessary to eat 7 fruit and veg a day?Fruit & Vegetable Platter

Headlines this week called for the recommended intake of fruit and veg to increase from five a day to seven. Yet the government believes that its current five a day policy is sufficient. Is this really the case?

I’m a keen sportsman, with a fairly quiet social life and an interest in nutrition. I aim to eat as many vegetables a day, always cooking enough for seconds at dinner. Hopefully I have five portions most days, I know, however, I almost certainly don’t have seven. How much difference can those two extra portions make?

At study of just over 65,000 men and women indicated that the more fruit and vegetables people ate, the less likely they were to die at any age, cutting the risk of dying from cancer and heart disease. The results suggest that risk of death by any cause over the course of the study was reduced by 42% for seven or more portions a day.

However, other experts said that the results were not conclusive and highlighted the possibility that other lifestyle factors may have influenced the results. This is of course refers to factors such as the consumption of alcohol and smoking. Although the researchers testify that they tried to account for these in their study.

My concern is whether this is actually the case. Those who already consumed a high daily intake of fruit and vegetables are likely to be more health conscious and consequently better educated in regards to our relationship with food, than those who ate less than five a day (if any). This could explain the significant drop in risk of death. In this instance, then it is a result of this knowledge of what we can and can’t eat, in balanced amounts, rather than the quantity of fruit and vegetables that we consume.

In an article published in the Daily Mail last week, it was quoted that ‘to buy fresh fruit and veg for a family of four costs almost £1,500 more per year than more convenient options.’ If this is accurate, it sounds like a very substantial sum, especially with the number of cash-strapped families in this harsh economic climate. Nevertheless, even if this is the case, surely there are worse things that you could be spending your money on?

I am sceptical that two extra portions will significantly reduce your risk of death. I see no problem with just a balanced diet and a good amount of exercise each day. Nevertheless I am not currently aware of any negatives with having seven portions of fruit and veg a day, rather than five, so why not? A healthy life is a happy one, is it not?

Comments welcome.

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