The British government recommends that citizens eat five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. The reality is that few people meet this standard. But according to a recent analysis in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, if residents of the U.K. got their “five a day,” and followed government guidelines for salt, fat and fiber, it could prevent or delay 33,000 deaths per year.
Researchers looked at national data from 2005 to 2007 on diet and nutrition, and on deaths throughout the U.K. from coronary heart disease, stroke and cancer. Researchers also studied previously published research linking diet with incidence of serious illness or premature death. (More on Time.com: Weight Watchers’ New Points: Zero for Most Fruits and Veggies)
Government guidelines recommend eating 440 g of fruit and vegetables per day, as well as 18 g of fiber, with no more than 33% of calories coming from fat and a maximum of 6 g of salt. The study (read a release here) found that none of the U.K. countries met these standards.
The researchers found that by adhering to the five-a-day rule alone, Brits could prevent 7,000 deaths per year from coronary heart disease and 5,000 from cancer. By upping fiber intake, an additional 4,000 deaths could be avoided. Reducing fat and salt would save another 7,000 and 7,500 lives, respectively. (More on Time.com: Veggies, Still Really Good for You)
The study is more evidence that the link between diet and health is a short one, which is ultimately good news: simply making good food choices is an easy way to help lower your risk of early death.
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