Don’t worry, fruit and veg are still good for you
The benefits of a healthy diet remain unchanged - despite what you may have read or heard following the publication of a study of fruit and veg eating among Europeans published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
The survey of some 400,000 men and women across 10 countries led to headlines like 'Five-a-day has little impact on cancer' but the research actually suggested that eating more fruit and veg could reduce the risk of cancer by 2.6% in men and 2.3% in women. The emphasis is on 'suggested' as it is possible the 'modest' differences between those who ate a lot of fruit and veg and those who did not could be down to something else entirely. It is also true that these percentages are lower – a lot lower, in a handful of cases - than some of the claims that have been made in the past but 2.6% is not nothing at all.
The fact is you still need to eat fruit and vegetable to get the full range of nutrients you need to keep your body, heart and mind healthy.
Walter C. Willett of the Harvard School of Public Health points out in a less publicised editorial in the same issue of the Journal that a 2004 study which also found only a small association between between fruit and veg and cancer nonetheless found a very big link with heart disease. The incidence of coronary heart disease or stroke was 30% lower for those consuming five or more servings of fruit and veg per day compared with those eating less than 1.5 servings per day.
And if you don’t eat fruit and veg what will you eat instead? Even the biggest cynics are not saying fruit and veg are bad for you. Replacing a portion of fruit with a kebab for example will deprive you of the nutrients in the fruit and expose you to saturated fats and other less healthy ingredients tht might be in your replacement.
Nobody was ever saying that just eating five portions of fruit or veg a day alone would half your risk of cancer. If you’re smoking, drinking heavily, overweight and take no exercise, an extra carrot or two a day will make very little difference.
Page created on April 7th, 2010
Page updated on April 8th, 2010