Since 1990, the World Health Organisation has recommended that we should all eat five portions of fruit and vegetables per day. They said that, consuming 400g of fruit and vegetables each day would lower our risk of heart disease, stroke, type-two diabetes and obesity. This was a reaction to the increased consumption of junk food by people in developed countries.
Now, as a result of a 12 year study by the University College London, we are told that 10 portions would be even better. We are also told that vegetables are four times healthier than fruit, each portion of vegetable reduces our risk by 14% whereas fruit only manages 4%. The bad news is that canned and frozen fruit actually increases our risk of dying and that fruit juice has no real benefit. There is no mention of frozen vegetables though.
The findings show that eating between five and seven portions a day reduced the risk of premature death by 36% whilst just one to 3 portions reduces the risk by 14%. Health experts have therefore called on the UK Government to subsidise the cost of fruit and vegetables, which they suggest could be paid for by taxing sugary foods.
Of course this poses a dilemma for governments because, on the one hand healthy people cost less to the health system but on the other hand people living longer puts a greater strain on the pension pot.
It also poses a question for us. Do we all want to live to be 100? Life in retirement is a great blessing but old age is not. In our minds we can do a lot more than our bodies will allow.