Eating at least seven portions of fruit and vegetables every day may offer a person the best chance of reducing their risk of death from all causes, a new study has found.
Consuming fruit and vegetables has long been acknowledged as an important health measure, and currently, people are recommended to consume at least five potions per day.
UK scientists studied data relating to 65,000 adults aged 35 and older over a seven-year period. During this time, almost 4,400 of the participants died.
The study found that consuming fruit and vegetables was linked with a lower risk of death overall, including deaths from cancer, heart disease and stroke. Furthermore, the more fruit and vegetables consumed, the greater the protective effects appeared to be.
Consuming seven or more portions every day was associated with a 42% lower risk of death from all causes, a 31% lower risk of death from heart disease and stroke, and a 25% lower risk of death from cancer.
Meanwhile, the study also found that vegetables may offer more protection than fruit. For example, consuming two to three portions of fruit every day was linked to a 10% lower risk of death. However, eating the same amount of vegetables was linked to a 19% lower risk.
The study, which was published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, also noted that while fresh and dried fruit reduced the risk of death, frozen and tinned fruit appeared to increase the risk of death by 17%. Experts have suggested this may be down to sugars that are added to the fruit during their processing.
In an accompanying editorial in the journal, they suggested that the inclusion of tinned fruit and products like smoothies in the current five-a-day recommendation may need to be revised.
"A 150ml glass of freshly squeezed orange juice (sugar 13g), 30g of dried figs (sugar 14g), 200ml of a smoothie made with fruit and fruit juice (sugar 23g) and 80g of tinned fruit salad in fruit juice (sugar 10g) contain a total of some 60g of refined sugar. This is more than the sugar in a 500ml bottle of cola," they noted.