14 June 2006

Fruit & veg fight cancer

Research proves that a minimum of five daily servings of fruits and vegetables can ward off a host of ills, including cancer and heart disease.


An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but why stop there?

Research proves that a minimum of five daily servings of fruits and vegetables can ward off a host of ills, including cancer, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and macular degeneration.

However, nine servings a day is even better.

Fruit and veg the frontline against disease
"Adults really need to eat nine servings a day. That's what the science says, and we decided we needed to start clearly communicating this," says Lorelei DiSogra, director of the "5 A Day" program at the US National Cancer Institute. "Fruits and vegetables play a really strong role in reducing the risk of all kinds of diseases."

Studies have shown people who ate the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables had an almost immediate reduction in blood pressure. People who chowed down their greens - and reds and purples - also had half the risk of developing certain types of cancer than those who didn't.

Vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals
Fruits and vegetables contain all the necessary vitamins and minerals and something extra - phytochemicals, or plant compounds that provide an array of health benefits, the cancer institute says.

To get the full effect of phytochemicals and other nutrients in fruits and vegetables, it helps to know just what, exactly, constitutes a serving. The cancer institute provides some guidelines:

One medium-sized fruit (for example, an apple, orange, banana, or pear); half a cup of cut-up fruit; one-quarter cup of dried fruit (raisins, apricots, prunes); one-half cup of raw, cooked, canned or frozen fruits or vegetables; three-quarters of a cup (six ounces) of 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice; half a cup of cooked or canned legumes (beans and peas); and one cup of raw leafy vegetables (think lettuce and spinach).

Eat more veg than fruit
If you can, eat more vegetables than fruit. One serving of fruit contains about 60 calories, while the equivalent in vegetables only has about 25.

"It's about one-third less calories so try to have two to three servings of fruit but then really try to bulk up on the vegetables because they're so low in calories," Jackson advises. Both fruits and vegetables also are quite filling. – (Healthscout)


Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Ask the Expert

Cancer expert

CANSA’s purpose is to lead the fight against cancer in South Africa. Its mission is to be the preferred non-profit organisation that enables research, educates the public and provides support to all people affected by cancer. Questions are answered by CANSA’s Head of Health Professor Michael Herbst. For more information, visit

Still have a question?

Get free advice from our panel of experts

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

* You must accept our condition

Forum Rules