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Most adults worldwide need to double fruit and veg intake
The research highlights a significant shortfall in fruit and vegetable consumption in people's diets around the world.
The study found the majority of adults worldwide would have to at least double their current consumption of fruits and vegetables to meet the World Health Organisation's minimum recommendation of five servings (400 grams) per day.
Additionally, the vast majority of adults worldwide - 60 to 87 per cent across 13 geographic diet regions - are falling short of this recommendation and missing out on crucial nutrition and health benefits, researchers said.
The study found that adults in Asia, which includes China and India, likely have relatively low intakes of ellagic acid due to the limited availability of berries. Ellagic acid is shown to be vital to cell health.
Researchers said the gap between the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables and what adults are actually eating also indicates that most adults worldwide are not receiving the quantity or variety of phytonutrients - organic compounds found in fruits and vegetables - potentially needed to support their health and wellness.
A growing body of research suggests that eating foods rich in phytonutrients may provide a range of health benefits, from promoting eye, bone and heart health, to supporting immune and brain function, researchers said.
Many phytonutrients are powerful antioxidants that can help fight the damage caused to our bodies' cells over time.
"Insights from the research highlight a global need for increased awareness of the relationship between fruit and vegetable consumption, and phytonutrient intakes," said Keith Randolph, nutrition technology strategist at the Nutrilite Health Institute of Amway and co-author of the research published in the British Journal of Nutrition.
The research draws inferences about the impact of low fruit and vegetable consumption on phytonutrient intake in each of the 13 regions under study.
This examination found adults that consume five or more daily servings of fruits and vegetables have two to six times the average intake of phytonutrients than adults who consume fewer than five servings per day.
Randolph acknowledges that busy lives, cost, seasonal and geographic availability, as well as perceptions of the value of fruits and vegetables as a food source, could all influence people's consumption of fruits and vegetables, and ultimately phytonutrients.
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