16/12/2010 12:57 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Five-A-Day Guideline Saves Lives, Claim Food Experts

Are you eating five portions of fruit and veg a day? According to a new study only a third of us in the UK are doing just that. But if everyone here ate the recommended five portions of fresh fruit and veg a day, as well as cut their intake of salt and unhealthy fats, up to 33,000 deaths could be prevented each year, say experts from Oxford University.

Eating fruit and veg could help you live longer Eating fruit and veg could help you live longer. Photo: Flickr, karimian

Only a couple of weeks ago researchers were telling us that the amount of fruit and veg we eat isn't particularly relevant in terms of protection against cancer, and that staying slim was the most important thing. So what new evidence has this latest study uncovered?

Writing in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, the researchers analysed a number of UK-based studies carried out between 2005 and 2007 that investigated the link between diet and health. They calculated that if we all ate five portions of fruit and veg a day it would save 15,000 lives (including 7,000 from heart disease, 5,000 from cancer and 3,000 from stroke).

A further 4,000 deaths could be prevented if we all ate the right amount of fibre, 7,000 by sticking to guidelines for fat intake and 7,500 by eating less salt.

But even more could be achieved, they say, if we reduced our salt intake to 3.5g a day (currently it's 6g a day) and got our levels of saturated fat consumption down to just 3 of total calorie intake).

How much fresh fruit and veg a day do you eat?

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