Wednesday, June 07, 2006

One in the eye for five-a-day

We are constantly told that our health is in peril if we do not consume at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day. Given that a 'portion' is 80 grams, juice can never be more than one 'portion' and potatoes don't count, that means we need to consume the best part of one pound of fruit and veg to satisfy this target (and learn some pretty arcane rules, too).

This seems to fly in the face of real human experience, which is that a wide variety of different diets are perfectly capable of being healthy. After all, humans have created societies in a range of locations with very different plants and animals in each. If we had very specific dietary needs, we wouldn't have been that successful.

An article in today's Guardian is a useful reminder of the adaptability of humans. Inspired by the story of the Campbell brothers (ages 91, 88, 85, 82 and 78) who have spurned vegetables all their lives, the article points out how the Inuit, the Masai, even the followers of Dr Atkins have all followed diets that would have made dieticians apoplectic. Of course, you may want to eat vegetables because you like them - but salad-dodging is unlikely to kill you.

Are vegetables overrated?, Guardian, 7 June 2006

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