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Perhaps You Should Pay More Attention to the Five-a-Day Rule?

By: , Posted on: November 11, 2016

advances in food security and sustainability

This excerpt was taken from volume 1 of Advances in Food Security and Sustainability, the recently launched book series which takes a scientific look at the challenges, constraints, and solutions necessary for a healthy and accessible food supply in communities around the world. Check it out on ScienceDirect here or purchase the first volume here.

The current World Health Organization recommendation is to consume over 400 g of fruit and vegetables per day, as part of a healthy diet low in fat, sugars, and sodium, in order to improve overall health and reduce the risk of certain noncommunicable diseases (World Health Organization, 2015). Evidence of such health benefits abounds. Oyebode et al. (2014) use data from the Health Survey for England to show fruit and vegetable consumption significantly linked to reductions in cancer and cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality, with increasing benefits being observed as consumption rises to, and beyond, seven portions daily per person.

In their modeling work, Scarborough et al., 2012 and Scarborough et al., 2014 show that around 33,000 deaths per annum would be avoided if UK dietary recommendations were met. Over 15,000 of these would be due to increased consumption of fruit and vegetables. O’Flaherty et al. (2012) estimate the potential reduction in CVD deaths in the UK for two dietary policy scenarios—one with a modest change to diet, including an increase per capita of one portion of fruit or vegetables per day, and one with a more dramatic dietary change encompassing three additional daily portions of fruit or vegetables.a Under these scenarios, the modest dietary change leads to 12,500 fewer CVD deaths per year and the more aggressive dietary change leads to 30,000 deaths prevented.


Globally, Springmann et al. (2016) find that a predicted 4% per capita decline in fruit and vegetable availability due to climate change compared with the baseline (no climate change scenario) leads to 534,000 climate-related deaths. Of these, approximately 140,000 are as a result of coronary heart disease, 160,000 a result of stroke, and 230,000 due to cancer.

The scientific evidence is therefore unequivocal that fruit and vegetable consumption is a cornerstone of a healthy diet and that a population level increase in intake is highly likely to reduce diet-related mortality.

Learn more in Chapter Four – UK Horticulture Production and National Dietary Guidelines: Meeting the Gap by V. Schoen, Food Research Collaboration, Centre for Food Policy, City, University of London, London, United Kingdom and T. Lang, Centre for Food Policy, City, University of London, London, United Kingdom.

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Food Science & Nutrition

The field of food science is highly interdisciplinary, spanning areas of chemistry, engineering, biology, and many more. Researchers in these areas achieve fundamental advances in our understanding of agriculture, nutrition, and food-borne illness, and develop new technologies, like food processing methods and packaging material. Against a backdrop of global issues of food supply and regulation, this important work is supported by Elsevier’s catalog of books, eBooks, and journals in food science, considered essential resources for students, instructors, and health professionals worldwide. Learn more about our Food Science and Nutrition books here.

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