Aiming for lucky number seven

By Anna Tiley

Last week a report was published by the department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London, which advocated eating seven fruits and vegetables per day as opposed to the previously recommended five-a-day. The study showed that eating above the currently recommended five-a-day could reduce the risk of death caused by coronary vascular disease (CVD) and cancer.

There have previously been reports showing how increasing fruit and vegetable consumption can particularly reduce the risk of CVD. However, the effect this has on cancer has been mainly inconclusive.

The research published last week assessed the effect of eating more fruit and vegetables on the general British public. Data was collected from over 65,000 people over the age of 35 who had completed the Health Survey for England (HSE) between 2001 and 2008.Healthy Eating

This is an annual survey that collects health and demographic data from a broad cross-section of the British public. In addition to information about the individual’s health, participants were asked how many fruits and vegetables they had eaten the previous day.

The results showed that eating more fruit and vegetables does indeed reduce the risk of CVD and cancer. From the people surveyed, those who ate seven or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day were shown to have a 33% decrease risk of dying early. Furthermore, they showed that eating vegetables reduced the risk of developing CVD and cancer compared to fruits. Tinned fruits were also surprisingly shown to increased risk of death. This is likely to be because these fruits are often preserved in syrup, which is high in sugars.

So how likely is it that people will increase their fruit and vegetable intake?

If people are currently struggling to reach the five-a-day goal then it may be unrealistic to think they could increase it to seven-a-day. Many reasons why most of us don’t even reach five-a-day include lack of time, money, motivation and having a difficulty changing habits. Therefore it may be that this new goal will take a bit of time and encouragement before it is widely adopted by the British public.