Chances are you've repeatedly heard and read the five-a-day mantra regarding recommended fruit and vegetable intake. Recent research, however, claims its time to update the guideline and bump it up to ten-a-day.
While researchers agree that five servings of fruits and vegetables can reduce disease risk, research published in the International Journal of Epidemiology says ten servings provides the greatest results.
Ten portions amount to about 800 grams of fruit and vegetables a day! How did they reach this conclusion?
The study was actually a meta-analysis (a review of multiple studies) of more than 350 studies worldwide. They closely examined studies that compare fruit and veggie consumption with health outcomes such as cancer, stroke, heart disease, and premature death.
Results showed that 800 grams a day (about 10 portions) helps lower risk of stroke and premature death while 600 grams a day helped lower risk of cancer.
Every 200 gram increase in fruit and vegetable intake was associated with the following:
- an 8% decreased risk for coronary heart disease
- a 16% decreased risk for stroke
- an 8% decreased risk for cardiovascular disease
- a 3% decreased risk for cancer
Researchers even listed what fruits and veggies helped each disease:
- For stroke, apples, pears, citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables, and pickled vegetables
- For coronary heart disease, apples, pears, citrus fruits, fruit juices, green leafy vegetables, beta-carotene-rich vegetables (carrots, sweet potato, squash, melon, or bell peppers), and vitamin C-rich fruit and veggies.
- For cancer, cruciferous vegetables.
- For cardiovascular disease, apples, pears, citrus fruit, carrots, green leafy vegetables, other non-cruciferous vegetables.
- For premature death prevention, apples, pears, berries, citrus fruit, cruciferous vegetables, cooked and raw vegetables, potatoes, green leafy vegetables, salad.
Typically, general nutrition recommendations like "5-a-day" are made not because they are optimal but because they are realistic for the general public. Considering most Americans have trouble achieving the 5-a-day recommendation, what can be said about 10-a-day?
While it may not be realistic, it isn't impossible. Simple tricks can sneak more veggies into your day without even noticing. Use veggies to make a big pot of soup that you can bowl through for several days. Load your sandwiches with veggies. Use them in your grain dishes (for example broccoli and cauliflower in rice), throw them in your smoothies or use a green powder drink such as Greenergy (which packs 5 to 7 servings of vegetables in one scoop).
Aune, D., Giovannucci, E., Boffetta, P., Fadnes, L.T., & Keum, N. (2017). Fruit and vegetable intake and the risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer and all-cause mortality-a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies. International Journal of Epidemiology, 46(3): 1029-1056. doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/ije/dyw319