19/01/2011 08:04 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Eight-A-Day (Not Five) For A Healthy Life

If you're struggling to keep up with the five-a-day recommendation for eating fresh fruit and vegetables, you're not going to be impressed by the latest expert advice. According to scientists working on an ongoing large-scale European study into diet and health, if you really want to be healthy you should aim for at least eight portions of fresh food every day.

woman-reaching-into-fridge-fruit-vegetables Stock up on even more fruit and veg if you want to stay healthy. Photo: Getty, Bill Ling

Since most surveys suggest the majority of people in this country aren't even managing five portions of fruit and veg a day, increasing the recommendation to eight is a mighty tall order.

Most scientists agree that eating healthily, which means getting lots of fresh fruit and veg in your diet, helps people live longer. But the new study has found that if you want to protect your heart, at least eight servings of fresh food every day is the best way to go about it.

According to the scientists working on the project, including some from Oxford University, people who eat eight or more portions of fruit and veg a day are 22% less likely to die from heart disease than people who eat fewer than three daily portions.

There again, people who eat that many portions of fresh food a day are also more likely to be healthy in other ways too - taking more exercise, not smoking and drinking less, for instance.

For the purposes of the study, the researchers have defined a portion as weighing 80g (3oz), which is equal to a small banana, a medium apple or a small carrot.

How many portions do you manage a day?

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