High intake of vegetables and fruit is one of the foundations of a healthy diet, which was recommended and confirmed, among others, by developing in 2016 by the Institute of Food and Nutrition – The New Pyramid the principles of proper nutrition and physical activity. The reason for the changes are increasing at an alarming rate of cardiovascular disease and cancer. They are the main cause of premature deaths worldwide (in 2013 about 25 million deaths). These recommendations, in particular, are based on the results of epidemiological studies that showed a reverse relationship between high consumption of vegetables and fruits and the risk of developing some cancers, cardiovascular disease or stroke. However, when asked what is the optimal amount of vegetable and fruit intake,in order to reduce the occurrence of chronic diseases and premature death, it has remained unanswered so far.
The recommended amount of fruit and vegetables consumed is varied, and so WHO is recommended 400g / day, in Sweden up to 500g / day, while in Norway 650-750g / day and in the USA up to 800g / day.
A study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology on February 22 this year shows that the cliché “five servings” is not enough. A comprehensive meta-analysis of 142 articles from 95 population studies showed that in people who consumed 800g of fruit and vegetables or 8 portions of vegetables and fruits during the day, the risk of premature death decreased by almost half and the risk of cardiovascular disease by 25% , compared to people who ate vegetables and fruits in small amounts or did not enjoy the benefits of nature at all.
Fruits and vegetables are a rich source of fiber and antioxidants, ie, vitamin C, flavonoids, potassium, etc. All these ingredients are associated with behavior or faster recovery. High fiber intake is helpful in lowering cholesterol, blood pressure and inflammation in the body. It also improves the functioning of blood vessels, which contributes to its special role in the prevention of overweight and obesity. In addition, the role of antioxidants is, among others, counteracting free radicals in the destruction of genetic material. The compounds contained in vegetables and fruits also positively affect the work of the intestinal microflora.
The analysis carried out, inter alia, by Dagfinn Aune of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and Imperial College London, shows that 8 million could be prevented. deaths all over the world every year, if people would eat more vegetables and fruits. The author of the research makes us realize that the more vegetables and fruits found in the diet, the lower the risk of heart disease, stroke or cancer as well as premature death.
A study by Aune and his colleagues is one of the largest describing this topic. Each of the analyzes that participated in the review included information on several hundred thousand people.
8 servings are a lot, but there is nothing to be discouraged. The authors of the study proved that the increase in vegetable and fruit intake by 200g is associated with a reduction in the risk of chronic diseases by as much as 11%.
The question is whether all vegetables and fruits have such a beneficial effect on health? It turns out that no! The researcher showed that apples, pears, citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables, fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C were the only ones that reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease and premature death. It is worth noting that fruit products were associated with an increased risk of the above disease states.
Or maybe go for the easy and take some supplements? Well, no! The co-author of the Aune study makes us realize that supplementing the diet with antioxidants or vitamins in the form of supplements will not bring the same beneficial effects as eating vegetables and fruits. Probably because of the package of active substances that occur in them that interact with each other to achieve the best goal – a healthy body.
It’s worth taking a risk and instead of a magic “five servings”, put on some 8.