Which 7 a day fruit and veg give you the best protection?

  • 2 Apr 2014
  • Reading time 3 mins
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A survey of 65,226 people in the UK confirms that having 7 or more servings of fruit and vegetables a day is associated with a 42% reduction risk of death. This parallels our 100% health survey findings of 55,000 people which found that having 5 or more servings of fruit a day tripled ones chances of being in optimal health, while 5 or more servings of vegetables doubled one’s chances. But which fruit and veg confers the most benefit?


This latest survey, carried out by researchers at the University College London, found that vegetables onferred a greater health benefit than fruit. While 2 or 3 servings of vegetables a day cut risk of death by 20% the same number of servings of fruit cut risk of death by 10%. Fruit juice and canned fruit conferred no benefit and even a suggestion of harm, no doubt due to the high sugar content, including syrups in canned fruit.

On the basis of all the evidence to date I stand by my recommendation, made more than a decade ago, to shoot for 7 servings a day, being 4-5 servings of vegetables and 2-3 of fruit. This, for example, means a serving of fruit with breakfast, half of each main meal (2 servings) as vegetables and 2 further servings during the day, as snacks, or either fruit or vegetables. This could be a carrot dipped in hummus, or an apple with a few nuts or seeds. Combining protein with fruit or vegetables further lowers its glycemic load.

fruit&veg intake reduces

In relation to a number of killer diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s, the biggest health benefit appears to come from antioxidant and polyphenol rich foods. For example, for Alzheimer’s protection the best kinds of vegetables are carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, spinach and mushrooms. The best fruits are berries, especially blueberries and strawberries. Flavonoids and polyphenols, found not only in fruit and vegetables, but also in tea, red wine and dark chocolate, are associated with preserving memory. The most protective effect is found eating six servings (500g) a day of fruit and vegetables.

There exists a good index of the total antioxidant power of fruit and vegetables, measured as the ORAC (oxygen radical absorption capacity) of a food. The chart below gives you some of the top ORAC star foods. My special report on antioxidants gives you more info on top ORAC foods.

Choosing the high ORAC foods makes all the difference. Consider these two example days below, based on 5 servings of fruit and vegetables. The one on the left clocks up a measly 2,410 ORACs – you want about 10,000 ORACs for significant health benefit. The one on the right clocks up over 10,401 ORACs.

The simplest way to achieve 10,000 ORACS is to have a shot of Cherry Active (a montmorency cherry concentrate). That alone is over 8,000 ORACs. I have a shot almost every day, plus a serving of berries with my breakfast, then half a plateful of greens from the garden, and other vegetables, for lunch and dinner. Avocado, broccoli and asparagus are three of the best.