The research analysed 95 studies on fruit and vegetable intake worldwide and covered up to 2M people.
It found that eating 800g – where one portion equals 80g – of fruit and vegetables a day could cut the risk of cardiovascular disease by 28% and the risk of cancer by 13%.
Current UK guidelines, set by Public Health England, are to eat at least five portions or 400g per day. But less than one in three UK adults are thought to meet this target, claimed the new research.
Scientists from the Imperial College also found that eating just 200g of fruit and vegetables a day – or about 2.5 portions – had health benefits. This included a 16% reduced risk of heart disease, a 13% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and a 4% reduced risk of cancer.
Fruits and vegetables that could help prevent heart disease, stroke, cardiovascular disease, and early death:
- Apples and pears
- Citrus fruits
- Salads and green leafy vegetables
- Lettuce and chicory
- Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower
Fruits and vegetables that could help reduce the risk of cancer:
- Green vegetables, such as spinach or green beans
- Yellow vegetables, such as peppers and carrots
- Cruciferous vegetables.
‘Maximum protection against disease’
Lead author of the research Dr Dagfinn Aune said: “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.”
The health benefits of fruit and vegetables were unaffected factors such as person's weight, smoking, physical activity levels, and overall diet, claimed the report.
Although the report revealed many health benefits of consuming more portions each day, Aune said that there was still more research to be done.
‘We need further research’
“We need further research into the effects of specific types of fruits and vegetables and preparation methods of fruit and vegetables,” said Aune.
“We also need more research on the relationship between fruit and vegetable intake with causes of death other than cancer and cardiovascular disease.”
While eating more portions of fruit and vegetables could be beneficial, Food Standards Scotland chief executive Geoff Ogle warned people to eat a balanced diet.
“Eating a variety of fruit and vegetables every day is essential but also highlights the need to eat plain starchy carbohydrates, some dairy (or alternatives), meat (or alternatives), oil rich fish and pulses to achieve a healthy balanced diet,” he said.
Eating eight portions (800g) of fruit and vegetables a day:
- 24% reduced risk of heart disease
- 33% reduced risk of stroke
- 28% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease
- 13% reduced risk of total cancer
- 31% reduction in dying prematurely
Eating 2.5 portions (200g) of fruit and vegetables a day:
- 16% reduced risk of heart disease
- 18% reduced risk of stroke
- 13% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease
- 4% reduced risk of cancer
- 15% reduction in the risk of premature death.