A new report suggests that we should aim to eat seven fruits and vegetables a day. The scientists who conducted the research suggest that eating five fruits and vegetables a day may not be enough. In addition the report suggests that it is important to eat fresh fruit and vegetables and that tinned and frozen fruit and vegetables may not be beneficial.

University College London, UK, analyzed the eating habits of 65,000 people over an eight year period and then matched them with cause of death. They found that eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, including salads, was linked to living a longer life. They found that eating at least seven portions of fruit and vegetables a day was linked to a 42 per cent lower risk of death from all causes including a 25 per cent lower risk of cancer and 31 per cent lower risk of heart disease or stroke. They also found that eating vegetables provided greater benefit than eating fruit. The surprise finding was that people who ate more canned or frozen foods had a higher risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer. The researchers are currently exploring this further and one theory is that canned fruits are stored in syrup which is full of sugar.

In 2005, Australia launched the “Go for 2+5” campaign which is equal to eating more than eight portions of fruit and vegetables a day. 

Fruit and vegetables contain antioxidants, which means that they offer a protection from disease as antioxidants repair damaged cells. Both fruit and vegetables contain micronutrients and fibre and both are beneficial for good health.

There are so many ways of increasing your daily intake of fruit and vegetables. If you are roasting potatoes add some pumpkin or beetroot to the pan, which will not only add flavour but colour as well. Roast parsnips are delicious. When you eat mashed potatoes add roast celery and roast carrots and mash together for a really delicious vegetable dish.

Eat lots of green leafy vegetables. Right now, kale is plentiful and roasted kale is a wonderful snack which not only tastes good but guarantees you get your recommended serving of vegetables a day.

Fruit juice is not an option as fruit juice contains a lot of added sugar. Fresh fruit is the answer, and drink water.

Smoothies should also not be part of your diet as smoothies contain a lot of sugar. It takes a lot of fruit to make a smoothie which means you will be having too much sugar at once. In addition, you lose the benefit of eating fresh fruit and the fibre the fresh fruit contains.

Eating healthily can be fun and is good for you. Make sure you visit the farmers market and make sure you drink lots of water. Don’t forget, you need to exercise every day for at least thirty minutes. 

It’s never too late to start and living a healthier life will add quality to your life. Its worth it. 

Debbie Jones
is currently a vice president of the International Diabetes Federation. She is a former diabetes nurse educator at the Bermuda Hospitals Board’s Diabetes Education Centre. She writes a monthly diabetes column for the Bermuda Sun to help educate people about one of the island’s biggest killers.