If you think the recommended five servings of vegetables and fruits is optimal for health, you might be several servings short.

International data examining the rates of death in more than 7.8 million people now shows that even more vegetables and fruit in our diets would reduce the risk of premature death.

The healthiest people from this vast analysis of available data highlighted that the recommended five servings – equal to about 400 grams – are actually not enough. The healthiest people worldwide are those who manage to eat about ten servings per day. They have lower rates of heart disease, stroke and all forms of cancer. To get your teeth around what makes up five servings, a handful of beans, a quarter head of broccoli, a medium sized apple and a small banana weigh around 100grams each. Now double it!

Professor David Cameron-Smith is a regular Fit Planet contributor. A transplanted Australian living in New Zealand, he obtained a PhD in nutritional biochemistry from Deakin University, and undertook postdoctoral training at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney. His research interests include the importance of nutrition in the maintenance of optimal health in an ageing population, and the impact of nutrition in regulating the function of muscles.

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