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    Home arrow 5 A Day arrow The health value of fruit and veg

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The health value of fruit and vegetables



F
ruit and vegetables have long been recognised as healthy foods and a valuable source of vitamins and minerals. But their contribution to goodhealth goes much further than this. It is now wel-recognised that fruit and vegetables have a protective effect against some of the chronic diseases affecting our society.
Berries
In 1991, the World Health Organisation recommended that people should eat at least 400g(around five portions) of fruit and vegetables every day, primarily to reduce the risk of cancer.
In 1994, the UK government's own advisory body, the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food and Nutrition Policy (COMA), examined the links between diet and heart disease and concluded that fruit and vegetables were protective. COMA recommended that consumption in the UK should increase by 50%, from an average of three portions to at least five portions per day. This was endorsed by COMA's subsequent review of the links between diet and cancer in 1998 and more recently in the NHS Plan.
Experts around the world recommended that eating at least five portions of fruit and vegetables each day promotes and helps to prevent cancer, coronary heart disease and other diseases.
Kid eating a pear

What makes fruit and vegetables protective?

Fruit and vegetables contain more than 100 beneficial compounds which may be responsible for their protective effects. These include antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, carotenoids and flavonoids, dietary fibre, folic acid, phytoestrogens and other phytochemicals, potassium, magnesium and many others. It appears that the protective effect of fruit and vegetables is due to the range of compounds present working together rather than any single compound on its own. Taking dietary supplements containing just one of these compounds has not proved effective, and in some cases has even been harmful.

 


 
 

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