Just as people were getting used to eating 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day, a new study comes along and suggests that 10 servings will optimize health benefits. Now what? How do we add 10 servings when 5 was difficult enough? Let’s take a look at what this new research shows and how to get your 10 a day.
10 is the New 5
Scientists from Imperial College in London, England gathered data from the PubMed and Embase databases going back to their establishment (PubMed in 1966 and Embase in 1947) up to the end of September 2016. After analyzing the information, based on approximately 2 million people from all over the world, they concluded that, while eating 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily is beneficial in reducing risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and other causes of premature death, there is a higher reduction of risk when people increase their intake to 10 servings per day. Their research also shows that cancer risk decline stabilizes at approximately 6 servings daily.
What is shocking is that the scientists estimate that 7.8 million premature deaths in 2013 could have potentially been associated with a daily intake of fruits and vegetables lower than 10 servings.
What Makes a Portion Serving
The public health recommendations are for 28 ounces (or 10 servings) daily of fruits and vegetables. That divides down to around 2.82 ounces per serving. For example, one small banana or 3 heaping tablespoons of a cooked vegetable equals one serving.
That might not seem like a lot until you think about eating 10 bananas or 30 tablespoons of spinach. As it stands in the US today, the recommended daily intake for these foods are at 5 servings. That’s half of what is now being recommended and statistics show that only one out of every three adults actually gets that amount daily.
How to Increase Your Intake
Getting 10 servings a day doesn’t have to be as difficult as it seems. Take a look at the Mediterranean diet, which is a diet of mainly fruits and vegetables together with olive oil, legumes and nuts. And luckily, legumes and nuts count towards your 10 servings.
In Mediterranean countries like Greece, most people easily consume 10 servings of plant-based food daily. People eat beans, lentils, or chickpeas on a weekly basis. Hummus, made from chickpeas, tahini and garlic is perfect as a dip for raw vegetables. These spreads can serve as the protein for meals, thus increasing the number of your daily fruits and vegetable servings.
Mediterranean cuisines are heavy on fruits too. They eat it as snacks and in place of sweet desserts after meals. Lunch and dinner always include a fresh salad or boiled greens as a side dish and most families eat vegetarian dishes several days of the week.
Cuisines from all Mediterranean countries are heavily plant and olive oil based and recipes call for local and seasonal produce making them even more healthy and tasty. And for those who enjoy meat, poultry or fish, if the serving size is smaller and there are more vegetables on the plate, it’s still easy to get 10 servings in per day.
Researchers found in their data that apples, pears and citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables and salads, including spinach, lettuce and chicory and cruciferous vegetables were the most beneficial in protection against cardiovascular disease, stroke and premature death. And top of the list for cancer protection are green, yellow and cruciferous vegetables.
When scientists evaluated the research, in comparison to those who ate no fruits or vegetables daily, those who ate 28 ounces (10 servings) per day had the following health benefits:
- 24 per cent reduced risk of heart disease
- 33 per cent reduced risk of stroke
- 28 per cent reduced risk of cardiovascular disease
- 13 per cent reduced risk of total cancer
- 31 per cent reduction in dying prematurely
With numbers like these, it is very worth while adding more servings of fruits and vegetables to our daily diets.