Fruit and vegetables cuts risk of disease
The West Australian , 26 August 2008
26th August 2008,
Antioxidant-rich fruit and vegetables such as oranges, carrots and broccoli can reduce the risk of diseases such as cancer of the larynx, oesophagus, cervix and lungs, according to a landmark WA study into how fresh produce can ward off illness.
The study by Edith Cowan University nutritionists found that people who ate two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables a day could cut their risk of developing a range of cancers, heart and blood vessel disease, metabolic syndrome, and bone disease.
The researchers said while some of the protection against common diseases came from the weight loss associated with diets high in fruit and vegetables, there was now good evidence that phytochemicals and vitamins such as A, C and E in fresh produce had their own powerful antioxidant effects.
The study, Vegetables and Fruit for Health and Healing, carried out with Vegetables WA and Western Potatoes, has recommended that Food Standards Australia and New Zealand investigate ways to use the findings to make high level health claims about the prevention of serious diseases.
The researchers said more also needed to be done to encourage people to eat more fruit and vegetables because Australian studies showed that nine out of 10 people were not having the recommended five serves of vegetables a day while three-quarters of people did not have two pieces of fruit a day.
Chief researcher Amanda Devine, senior lecturer in nutrition at ECU, said that although people knew fruit and vegetables were good for them, they were unaware how they could prevent serious disease.
People havent thought about how they can reduce their risk of disease by eating fruit and vegetables, particularly if they have a history of certain diseases in their family, and I think we need to make the messages about this benefit more powerful so it changes peoples behaviour, Dr Devine said.
We need to be having a variety of these foods to get the antioxidants, polyphenols and all the other components in fruit and vegetables that you just dont get in a vitamin supplement or highly-processed foods. Public Health Advocacy Institute director Mike Daube said the findings confirmed the health benefits of fresh foods and only highlighted that far too much was being spent promoting junk food.
This will need additional support from government so we can have a cultural shift , Professor Daube said.
This means ensuring that fresh produce is widely available and promoted with the same flair and funding that goes into advertising fast food and confectionery.