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A high intake of fruit and vegetables is one of the cornerstones of a healthy diet and is recommended to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancer, the two most common causes of premature death worldwide.

In an analysis of 95 studies, reductions in risk of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality were observed up to an intake of 800 g/day of fruit and vegetables combined, whereas for total cancer no further reductions in risk were observed above 600 g/day.

Inverse associations were observed between intake of apples/pears, citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables/salads and cruciferous vegetables and cardiovascular disease and mortality, and between green-yellow vegetables and cruciferous vegetables and total cancer risk.

Researchers found an inverse association between intake of fruits, vegetables, and fruit and vegetables combined, and the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, cardiovascular disease, total cancer and all-cause mortality. For total cancer the lowest risk was observed at an intake of 600 g/day (7.5 servings/day), whereas for coronary heart disease, stroke, cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality the lowest risk was observed at 800 g/day (10 servings/day), a level of intake that is double the five servings per day (400 g/day) recommended by the World Cancer Research Fund and the WHO.

An estimated 5.6 and 7.8 million premature deaths worldwide in 2013 may be attributable to a fruit and vegetable intake below 500 and 800 g/day, respectively.

Reference:

Aune, D., et al. (2017). Fruit and vegetable intake and the risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer and all cause mortality—a systematic review and dose response meta-analysis of prospective studies. International Journal of Epidemiology, 1029–1056.