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Eat 5 to 9 portions of fruit & veg daily

There's a helpful editorial in last month's American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN) - "Fruit and vegetables: think variety, go ahead, eat!" As with many journals, one doesn't have to pay anything to look at the full text of AJCN editorials. It's a good read. It comments on a paper in the journal by Myint et al showing a 42% reduction in stroke for those in the highest quartile - the top 25% - of plasma vitamin C compared with those in the lowest quartile (independently of other risk factors such as smoking, exercise, age, weight and so on).

A key point the editorial makes, is that this isn't a message to rush out and buy vitamin C supplements. The authors look at the many largely unsuccessful attempts to bottle the goodness of fruit and vegetables. The message is straightforward - we don't yet fully understand why high intake of fruit and vegetables produce such impressive health benefits. Taking dietary supplements does not mean you can stint on the fruit and veg if you want the many health bonuses they bring. These bonuses include reduction in stroke, in coronary heart disease, in several cancers, in dementia, and in osteoporosis, for starters. Fruit and veg are stunningly helpful for our health ... and they so often taste delicious.

I intend to revisit more on the specific benefits of fruit and veg intake in later posts. For now, I just want to mention some of the great websites out there that provide practical tips. Examples include the NHS's "5 a day: just eat more (fruit & veg)", the BBC website's Food section with its mouth-watering selection of recipes and other advice, and the US "Fruit and veggies more matters" with cooking, shopping and general nutrition information. For more food and lifestyle websites, remember you can search this blog's companion list of recommended websites at http://del.icio.us/stressedtozest

BBC. Food. www.bbc.co.uk/food Accessed February 10, 2008.
Fruit and Veggies More Matters. http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/ Accessed February 10, 2008.
Myint, P. K., R. N. Luben, et al. (2008). "Plasma vitamin C concentrations predict risk of incident stroke over 10 y in 20 649 participants of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer Norfolk prospective population study." Am J Clin Nutr 87(1): 64-69. [Abstract/Full Text]
NHS. 5 A Day: Just Eat More (Fruit & Veg). http://www.5aday.nhs.uk/ Accessed February 10, 2008.
Padayatty, S. J. and M. Levine (2008). "Fruit and vegetables: think variety, go ahead, eat!" Am J Clin Nutr 87(1): 5-7. [Free Full Text]

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