It’s National Nutrition Week this October 11-17 and we’re excited to be part of the Nutrition Australia led “Try For 5” challenge of eating 5 serves of vegetables each day. We’ll be active on Twitter letting people know how team members are doing and of course promoting the many benefits of eating more vegetables. You can sign yourself up for the challenge here and if you’re on Twitter, let people know how you are going by including #TryFor5 in your tweets.
Australians are not doing so well in the vegetable eating department with only 6.8% of us eating the recommended amount each day. That’s why the Try For 5 challenge is a great way to kick start eating more of them.
So what does science say about the health benefits of eating more vegetables and fruit? Well, a recent major scientific review has shown they could add years to your life together with better health.
From 16 observational studies, spanning from 4 to 26 years and involving over 800,000 people, researchers looked at the link between eating fruits and vegetables and mortality from a range of diseases. The findings were impressive.
For every additional serving per day of fruits and vegetables, a person’s overall risk of earlier mortality fell by about 5 percent, with a lower rate of death from cardiovascular disease being the standout link. So going from 1 serving per day to 5 servings cut a person’s earlier mortality risk by around 20 percent compared to a similarly aged person who was struggling to get through even a banana.
Once a person was eating around 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, they reached the limit of benefit where eating more servings did not show any further health advantages. Far from a negative, this shows that such a goal of 5 servings is more achievable and lowers the hurdle to get over in the face of different worldwide public health recommendations of 6 or even 7 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
Because the research was all based on observational studies, there is still inherent bias present from the methods used to estimate fruit and vegetable consumption. Other lifestyle factors that go hand-in-hand with eating lots of these food could also explain some of the benefit. The size of the study populations used, the detailed statistical analysis done and the consistency of the findings make the conclusions strong.
What it means for you
Five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day keeps the doctor away. If you’re not there yet, then this is the perfect time to join the #TryFor5 challenge.