Food and Behaviour Research

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01 Apr 2014 - BBC News - Seven-a-day fruit and veg 'saves lives'

by Pippa Stephens, BBC Health Reporter

Eating seven or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day is healthier than the five currently recommended and would prolong lives, researchers say.


The research behind these latest headlines relates to physical health outcomes, but similar findings linking consumption of 7 portions of vegetables and fruit per day to optimal mental health have already been reported from large scale studies. See:
As with the present study, these previous findings for psychological wellbeing came from assocation studies, and so cannot provide firm evidence of causality. In both cases, however, the authors did their best to correct for other factors that coould help to explain the links they found.

A study of 65,226 men and women indicated the more fruit and vegetables people ate, the less likely they were to die - at any given age. 

Seven a day cut the risk of dying from cancer and heart disease.

But the government says its "five-a-day" advice is sufficient and that many of us struggle to achieve even this. 

Experts said other lifestyle factors, such as not smoking or drinking excessively, may have accounted for the drop in mortality, not just fruit and veg consumption, although the study authors said they had tried to account for this.

The University College London researchers used the National Health Survey, which collects data from people in England each year through questionnaires and nurse visits, to look at diet and lifestyle. 

They analysed data between 2001 and 2008, which provided a snapshot rather than people's continuing dietary habits. 

The study looked at general mortality as well as death from cancer, heart disease and stroke, and found risk of premature death from any cause decreased as fruit and veg consumption increased.