Why 2&5 should actually be 10 a day.
Of all the public health and nutrition messages out there, 2&5 has been one of the most successful – many people know this as the number of fruit and vegetable serves they should consume each day and while consumption data indicates that very few of us actually achieve this target, it is not for lack of knowledge, mostly likely accessibility and other life priorities. What needs to be remembered is that this number is derived from scientific studies investigating the minimum number of serves of fresh fruit and vegetables we need for disease prevention. Not for optimal health. And when it comes to eating for optimal health, longevity and disease prevention it is more like 10 serves of fresh fruit and vegetables every day, similar to that consumed in Mediterranean countries that is the gold standard when it comes to health and nutrition.
Research performed by the Imperial College in London has reported that consumption of 800g, or 10 portions of fruit and veges was associated with up to a 30% reduction in heart disease, stroke and premature death. These finding support those known for many years that people living a largely plant based lifestyle and who eating lashings of fresh produce live longer and have much lower rates of diabetes, heart disease and cancer than the Western world. Overall these diets are higher in fibre, antioxidants, and vitamins and lower in calories.
And while there are key differences between fruits and vegetables – fruits contain significantly more natural sugars and calories than the majority of orange, red and leafy green vegetables, this study found that all types of fruit and vegetables were good choices. In particular, apples and pears, citrus fruits, salads and green leafy vegetables such as spinach, lettuce and chicory, and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower were found to be be specifically linked to reductions in disease risk.
So if we are to adopt a message of 10 per day,how on earth are we to do it, especially given that only one in 20 Australians currently eats enough vegetables. Put most simply vegetables need to become a key part of all our meals – it does not matter if we eat them cooked or raw, just that we eat them. We need vegetables with our eggs in the morning, or at least a vegetable juice. A salad or side of vegetables at lunch and we need another 2-3 cups at dinner. And we need to make them taste good, as when they taste good with sauces, dressings and seasonings we eat more of them. Forget superfoods, paleo, quitting sugar and juice cleanses. Living longer is as simple as eating more vegetables and to a lesser extent fruit.
Get more vegetables into your day with these easy ways to increase your vegetable serves each day without noticing.