Five-a-Day Keeps the Reaper Away

Following dietary guidelines could stave off cardiovascular disease, cancer

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) A total of 33,000 deaths in the United Kingdom could be prevented every year if residents ate their "five a day" (five servings of fruits and vegetables) and cut their salt and unhealthy fat intake.

Researchers based their findings on national data from 2005 to 2007 for all four UK countries and found that eating the five fruits and vegetables a day alone accounts for almost half of those lives saved. Unhealthy fat and salt-intake would need to be drastically reduced to achieve similar benefits.

Data sources included: deaths from coronary heart disease, stroke and cancers; figures on food and nutrient consumption; and in-depth analyses of published evidence on the contribution of diet to serious illness and premature death.

Similar efforts in America, where about 75 million of the nation's population is considered obese and at risk for myriad health compromises, would likely result in similar figures.

The UK recommends daily servings totaling 440 grams of fruits and vegetables, 18 grams of fiber and a maximum of 6 grams of salt. A third of total energy should be provided by fats with saturated fat comprising no more than 10 percent of that figure.

Following these recommendations would ward off more than 7,000 deaths a year from coronary heart disease and nearly 5,000 from cancer, for a total of more than 15,000 preventable deaths a year, and sticking to the recommendations on dietary fiber, fats and salts could save an additional 18,500 lives annually, according to researchers.

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Review Date: 
December 16, 2010
Last Updated:
December 16, 2010