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People who eat 10 portions of fruit and vegetables a day (theguardian.com)
87 points by Mz 148 days ago | hide | past | web | 66 comments | favorite

Plant-based food list I've compiled: https://github.com/DeBraid/medicine/blob/master/plant-based-...

Nutrient density per calorie is the magic formula. High nutrient density, high ANDI scores.

A good video on the topic of plant-based nutrition https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZ8dkLYWrw0

>Nutrient density per calorie is the magic formula. High nutrient density, high ANDI scores.

The "magic formula" is the problem. There are many approaches to nutrient density scoring and ANDI is among those horribly flawed. Why? I'll defer to someone credible:

> According to the explanation of this ranking system posted on Fuhrman’s web site, he also excludes a number of other important nutrients. The B vitamins biotin and pantothenic acid, preformed vitamin A, and vitamins K1 and K2 are among those absent. Major minerals such as sodium, chloride, potassium, sulfur, and phosphorus are excluded. Essential trace minerals such as copper, manganese, boron, molybdenum, and chromium are nowhere to be found in Fuhrman’s list. Essential fatty acids like EPA, DHA and arachidonic acid are likewise absent. Finally, none of the eight essential amino acids is included in his ranking system. - Chris Masterjohn, PhD Nutritional Sciences [1]

A bit suspect to exclude essential nutrients from a nutrient score. He also doubles the ORAC (antioxidant) importance, when including ORAC at all is very controversial. Please read [1] for the rest.

A more objective formula [2] will always include organ meats, like liver, at the top. A serving of liver is practically a multi-vitamin and if consumed daily will cause an overdose of vitamin A very quickly.

[1] http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:WLAXWpG... [2] http://ketopia.com/nutrient-density-sticking-to-the-essentia...

I did the Fuhrman diet for the better part of the year. It was so labor intensive-- cooking+shopping was essentially a full-time job. I will admit to feeling much much better on the diet and losing weight, but there are intractable problems with the diet.

It got to the point that I hated the food so much that I simply skipped meals when I prepared food and threw away anything my wife made. I remember crying-- and Im not kidding-- at work over some soggy lettuce wrapped bullshit that, I just couldn't stand anymore. I didn't cry when I snapped my ankle in half or when my grandparents passed. I didn't cry when my wife left me or my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer... but Furhman's diet-- wore me down to nothing.

It's a one size fits all solution, with no allowances for individual tastes or nutritional needs. Ultimately the advice is driven by an ideology rather than science. Small changes to the diet would make the food vastly more palatable (namely more oils) and not comprise its integrity... but ideology is inflexible.

That's my experience too. When I was a student I have made a linear programming excercise just for fun: to find foodsets with all the required daily nutritions at cheapest price

Basically chicken liver was IT, just a few hundred gramms per day and nearly all requirements are fulfilled. When I've disabled liver, then came some diets much harder to realize: with elements such as 4 kg of oranges a day :)

Organ meats are under-appreciated in terms of their nutrient value.

When wild animals kill prey they eat the organs first, then move on to the less nutritious muscle meat.

Humans did that too in the hunter-gatherer days.

Especially when killing bigger prey, some organs were consumed by the hunters on the spot to compensate for calories lost hunting(liver/brains/heart?) and the rest of the meat was brought back to the tribe.

Appreciate the critical evaluation of ANDI, as no 1 metric is perfect.

I find it a useful guide for plants since it ranks leafy greens and vegetables above fruits (most people who go plant-based are prone to over-eat fruits, under-eat veges, because sweet is preferred to bitter).

You point out there are many other options -- like organ meats -- which have robust nutrient profiles but do not score high on ANDI.

Disclaimer: not a expert in food science, but an avid learner of all its dimensions.

A lot of that list/document seem good, a lot of it is pseudo-science, which makes me think that I should take the rest with a pinch of salt (pun intended).

Juicing is typically the easiest way to remove all the good stuff from fruits and vegetable (fibers) and only keep 1. the stuff you need in very small amount (minerals, vitamin, ...) 2. the sugar.

"Acid forming": see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alkaline_diet

The whole thing reads more like some new-age "cleansing" diet and has no place here imho.

Nice list. Do you have anything that rates vegetables by macros/calories?

Here is a list of foods ranked by Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI, aka nutrients per calorie). https://github.com/DeBraid/medicine/blob/master/nutrient-cal...

Not the answer I asked for. Macros (protein/fat/carbs) per calorie, not an aggregate nutrient score composed of vitamins and minerals.

What does acid forming mean?

Foods cause your body to have a certain reaction. So the idea is that foods cause your body to lower its pH, which goes against our slightly alkaline nature.

I think there may be some substance to this, but in general, it's save just to eat a variety of wholesome foods. It's tougher for most Americans to realise this since they're crunched for time, looking for shortcuts, and advertisers are always pushing a new diet or wonderfood every year.

Common salt dissolved in water (saline) is neutral pH, but can (maybe always?) cause the body to lower its pH. In the context of ER:


>Chloride load leads to hyperchloraemic acidosis

I'm experimenting seasoning my food with a mixture of sea-salt and potassium gluconate powder for that reason.

There is no such thing as the "pH of your body". This is unscientific nonsense.

Would you accept blood pH or gut pH, or something else more specific?

Do you think this is a game show?

There are so many things wrong here.

> 10 portions of fruit and veg a day

You're comparing fruit to vegetables here. Vegetables contain much more flavenoids and micronutrients than fruits (unless you include berries). It's good to replace unhealthy food with a fruit, but health authorities should be wary of allowing fruit consumption to dominate over vegetable consumption (which it mostly certainly will).

I'm not pedantic enough to post everything I have wrong with this, but nutritional authorities need to get with the times.

Being health-conscious is great, but do not just eat "10 servings of fruit or vegetables" a day. Use a nutrient tracker and make sure you're getting what your body needs, and if needed, supplement everything else.

I love fruits and vegetables so the only real limiting reagent for me is having enough of them in the fridge. My thoughts:

If you live in a seasonal climate, try to eat in tune with the seasons.

Subscribe to a farmers co-op or some sort of delivery of a weekly box of whatever produce is being harvested now at a nearby farm. This is when I've had the best success eating lots of vegetables. Especially good value are "ugly" produce boxes of "reject" vegetables that won't make it to supermarkets due to insignificant cosmetic marks. Not a complete solution, as you may end up with too many of a vegetable you don't like / need. Less thinking and decision making is better, and I know I'm getting the fresh stuff, and I will be determined to just use whatever I have since I paid for it.

If you have good cooking skills, and maintain "momentum" in cooking often, you will be able to just open your fridge and figure out what to cook based on what you have and how you feel. I find this better and more enjoyable than trying to plan out meals in advance. I find fresh vegetables inspiring. Moreso outside of winter of course.

Blendtec or Vitamix grade blender: you can throw pretty much anything in these and it will blend with minimal water added. Allows you to consume a huge amount of vegetables and fruits.

Soups: soups are so easy to make. Chop whatever you have, add a bit of chicken broth, water, turmeric, chicken drumsticks (optional), salt, pepper and whatever else you want. Usually you'll at least want carrots, celery, ginger, onion and mushroom. Bring to a boil then leave on low for a couple of hours.

>the only real limiting reagent for me is having enough of them in the fridge

Most vegetables freeze well, and frozen vegetables are often more nutritious than fresh because they're picked in peak condition instead of early for extra shelf life. They're usually cheaper than fresh too. With the exception of vegetables like onions that don't need refrigerating I mostly eat frozen vegetables.

+1 ... Depending on what you're wanting, and where you live. Also, when cooking just for yourself, the mixed veggies allow you to make just enough, instead of having to break down and cut up have a dozen different veggies, and have way too much leftovers.

> Blendtec or Vitamix grade blender: you can throw pretty much anything in these and it will blend with minimal water added. Allows you to consume a huge amount of vegetables and fruits.

As soon as you blend it you can only count it as one of your five a day. And you should limit yourself to less than 150 ml of blended fruit per day.

Care to elaborate the reasoning behind this? I am curious why this is so.

It's very easy to drink fruit. It's much harder to eat it. If you're drinking blended fruit you can consume fantastic amounts of sugar. And even if you limit it to a small blended drink you're making the sugar more available.


You could make moonshine. After you distill out the ethanol from fermenting your fruit juice, what you've got left-over in the original flask is de-sweetened juice. :)

I think that applies much more to juices, not smoothies.

And the reasoning in the article you cited doesn't really make sense to me. If you keep the pulp and fiber in a smoothie without adding juices or sugar, how is that different from eating whole fruit?

The article says that blending fruit "releases the sugars", which makes no sense. How is that different from chewing? Wouldn't chewing also remove sugars?

I suspect that the amount of processing that's done to make a smoothie is significantly more than compared to mastication that it affects how the food is further processed by the digestive system. Similarly, I think baby food is pureed not only because babies lack teeth, but because it's easier to digest.

Blending is much more thorough chopping than chewing, even if you're really thoroughly chewing.

> If you keep the pulp and fiber in a smoothie without adding juices or sugar, how is that different from eating whole fruit?

It's much much easier to drink 6 oranges that have been blended than it is to eat six oranges.

I guess (after Googling around) that it has to do with time of consumption and the breaking of cell walls.

This mainly applies to fruit, if I'm reading things correctly. If you puree kale and cucumbers, there shouldn't be much downside to drinking that as long as you don't add anything - there's little sugar in those vegetables as it is, so overconsumption won't be that awful for you.

Fair enough... but every smoothie recipe I've seen adds a lot of carbs to the mix either via direct sugars and/or high-sugar fruits/juices.

I think this is the most reasonable explanation.

Glycemic load seems to be the key. Otherwise, nothing wrong with eating vs blending.

Biggest change to our household diet came when we switched to shopping at farmers markets. Our green uptake went up by a huge margin.

I live in a tropical area, and especially love that I can buy tons of leafy Asian greens and beans at the farmers markets for a couple of dollars each, that none of our local supermarkets even carry in their fruit & veg section.

+1 for "reject" fruit and vegetables. We would go to farmer's markets and ask for "seconds", which they usually have in abundance. It's much cheaper, perfectly good and most of the times more ripe/ready to be eaten now, hence very tasty.

> Bring to a boil then leave on low for a couple of hours.

Alternatively, since you mention this above, one can use a Blendtec or Vitamix grade blender to friction-heat the liquid. Apparently this is more energy efficient than microwaving for instance: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11399036 . Obviously this won't work for soups where one desires very coarse pieces of vegetables; nonetheless I often find the above useful.

It's really not that hard, a "portion" is quite a bit smaller than you think it is. For instance, a large apple is 3 portions.

That terminology really seems more confusing and misleading than helpful then. Also this usage of "portion" kind of conflicts with the usage in advice about "smaller portion size".


Here's what the UK means when it talks about portion size.


> Small-sized fresh fruit

> One portion is two or more small fruit, for example two plums, two satsumas, two kiwi fruit, three apricots, six lychees, seven strawberries or 14 cherries.

> Medium-sized fresh fruit

> One portion is one piece of fruit, such as one apple, banana, pear, orange or nectarine.

> Large fresh fruit

> One portion is half a grapefruit, one slice of papaya, one slice of melon (5cm slice), one large slice of pineapple or two slices of mango (5cm slices).

Note that this is for fresh fruit, and definitely not juices or smoothies.

> Unsweetened 100% fruit juice, vegetable juice and smoothies can only ever count as a maximum of one portion of your 5 A DAY.

> For example, if you have two glasses of fruit juice and a smoothie in one day, that still only counts as one portion.

A rough rule of thumb: one portion is what fits in a cupped hand.

I read somewhere that over the last 50 years or so an average apple has grown 2 to 3 times in size and sweetness and like you mentioned a large apple is 3 portions. We can be sure that other fruits and vegetables have also grown in size. So today having a serving of fruit could very well be 3 times the size of a serving of fruit was 50 years ago. Know wonder people eat healthy/well and still gain weight.

The people saying it isn't hard are right... it really isn't. What's hard is leaving everything you should be doing for the end of the day, then trying to cram in a whole head of broccoli with dinner. That said, fruit is delicious and nutritious... very nutritious. You have to think about any family risk of diabetes, and frankly think about the long-term health of your teeth.

That said, 10 portions seems like moderation to me, assuming good dental hygiene.

Edit: Oh, and if you're eating that kind of thing, it helps not to eat too much high-salt, high-sugar foods along with them. It's like... trying to look for a rainbow under a floodlight.

Yudkin mentioned about dental hygiene in his book Pure, White and Deadly: The Problem of Sugar (1972)

it's the form of sugar that matters.

the sticky (think twinkie) sugar does more damage because it sticks to cavities, fueling bacteria producing acid.

the stickiest, the sweetest fruit i can think of is fried dates. banana comes close.

but fruits don't even compare to twinkie, so don't worry too much about it. chewing fibrous non-sweet veg should be enough to 'brush' teeth naturally. of course brushing your teeth won't hurt

> chewing fibrous non-sweet veg should be enough to 'brush' teeth naturally

Side-to-side, maybe.

Check out Miswak, it's an alternative to the toothbrush + toothpaste combo.

I've tried it, and it does clean your teeth effectively, but it's harder to use because the bristles point in the same direction as the handle instead of to the side. It doesn't work any better than a normal toothbrush so unless you're using it for religious reasons I don't see any reason to use it.

Few people I've met really worry about their dental hygiene beyond their daily brushing. In that regard, carrying around anything that keeps you engaged in that, is a good thing. In the morning and at night though... it's hard to beat a good modern electric brush.

Check out Miswak

Hey wow that looks pretty cool, I tried some Indian neem toothpaste before which wasn't bad, but I've never heard of this and am curious to try. Should be a fun shopping mission in Soi Arab on my next trip to Bangkok...

A Kuwaiti friend introduced me to miswak... amazing stuff. Hands down, it's the best portable toothbrush I've ever had. At home, in the mornings and at night I still use a Sonicare, but instead of picking my teeth or some other healthy, but unsightly activity, I take a minute out of side to use a miswak.

My dentist can't believe how healthy my gums are. The single best thing you can do for oral hygiene, however you go about it, is to clear food out of teeth as soon as possible. Miswak really makes that possible and practical.

> then trying to cram in a whole head of broccoli with dinner

Two broccoli spears would be one portion.


I think you missed my point, which was that it's hard when you have to leave all of your portions for one meal, and of only one thing. https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/8e/9b/d3/8e9bd3ee1...

I don't want 10 of those with dinner, do you?

No one is suggesting you eat 10 portions of the same thing for one meal, or even in one day.

That would be fucking stupid.

What on earth makes you think that's what's being suggested?

All the 5 a day / 10 a day guidance is very very clear: eat a wide range of different things.

You're right that no one is suggesting that, including me. "That would be fucking stupid."

Yes, and I'm sorry that you've seemingly come to expect that level of stupidity from others, but in my world that moment is a cue to re-read the context.

Help me out. Your first post doesn't seem to be saying what I think it's saying. What did you mean? Specifically, why mention cramming a whole head of broccali into a meal?

"The people saying it isn't hard are right... it really isn't. What's hard is leaving everything you should be doing for the end of the day, then trying to cram in a whole head of broccoli with dinner."

I'm saying it isn't hard to eat 10 servings a day, what's hard (and by implication what people who think it's hard are often doing in some form) is cramming their servings in at the end of the day, and from one source. I was marveling at how that would throw anyone off.

Blendtec. One Apple, one pear, couple of oranges, one kiwi and some green stuff results in a smoothie portion that is easy to drink along with morning coffee.

For lunch throw in some cucumber, tomatoes, carrot and peppers and you get a gazpacho (Google for more detailed recipe).

No need to do much chopping, just throw the stuff in and let machine do the work.

Putting stuff in a blender removes one of the primary things that makes them healthy: fiber. Or specifically the digestion of fiber. That's the "work" that makes fruit healthy, because it allows for the slow release of the sugar. Once you smash all the fiber, you're just consuming a sugar bomb with some smashed fiber on the backend. At that point, the sugar rush isn't any different than drinking soda.

Juicing removes fiber but a blender does not impact the fiber content.

More info: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/04/23/science/q-a-finer-fiber.ht...

It does not remove the fiber but it changes the structure. The natural structure is like a balloon with good stuff inside. The digestion process breaks down those balloons one at a time and liberates the contents. That process slows down the absorption of sugar. Blending pops all of the balloons so you everything can be accessed/absorbed at the same time, leading to sugar spikes, etc...

Sounds plausible, but is this backed by some research and is the quick release of sugars the only issue? Quick googling did not reveal any good information.

All they did there was ask a "nutritionist". As far as I know no one has ever done a study to check for intact fiber after blending. That's what I'd need to see.

You might be confusing 'juicing' and 'blending' here. The former removes a lot of fiber, as you said. The latter does not. Blending does affect the mastication phase of eating, because you're drinking now, not eating - so you get much less of the enzymes associated with that process to help with digestion. But then again the blending process have done the bulk of mechanical digestion before.

Modern fruit and veg are intelligently designed and optimised for calories and aesthetic appeal. Not nutrition. They have little in common with original rootstock. What you know as an table apple is a single mutation that has been diversified over time. Original apples are only good for making booze.

The healthiest food is green leaved veg. Baby spinach and the like. I build massive salads with these as base and add whatever to that. Very digestible, no need to blend and while it will never be a pizza, it's not bad at all.

See my comment further up on structure. I know the difference between juicing and blending.

Juices and smoothies only count as one of your five / ten per day.


> 5 A DAY in juices and smoothies

> Unsweetened 100% fruit juice, vegetable juice and smoothies can only ever count as a maximum of one portion of your 5 A DAY.

> For example, if you have two glasses of fruit juice and a smoothie in one day, that still only counts as one portion.

> Smoothies include any drink made up of any combination of fruit/vegetable juice, puree or all the edible pulped fruit or vegetable.

> Your combined total of drinks from fruit juice, vegetable juice and smoothies should not be more than 150ml a day – which is a small glass.

> For example, if you have 150ml of orange juice and 150ml smoothie in one day, you'll have exceeded the recommendation by 150ml.

> When fruit is blended or juiced, it releases the sugars which increases the risk of tooth decay so it's best to drink fruit juice or smoothies at mealtimes.

> Whole fruits are less likely to cause tooth decay because the sugars are contained within the structure of the fruit.

According to the NHS page if I eat 2 apples, 2 oranges and 1 pear I get 5/5. If I prepare two smoothies from exactly same ingredients, I only get 1/5.

The only explanation I can think of would be that the blending process somehow alters to structure to be less favourable. NHS page mentioned the sugars getting released (but does not provide citation). Previous comment mentioned the fibres getting smashed (which I found a bit suspicious). Would like to know if there's some research behind this.

Ok, that's an argument against blended fruits. What about vegetables? I blend two packed cups of spinach, two cups mango, some chia seed, and some water. Yet this says I should stuff all this into my mouth whole. Why?

That morning smoothie sounds great...I like to add plain greek yogurt for some protein.

And the veggie smoothies, I've really come to enjoy things like edamame, hummus, and spicy peppers (I wasnt sure if you meant sweet or spicy peppers).

I also track many of my smoothies in my app (ends up being like git for recipes in this use case): https://www.ibgib.com/ibgib/Smoothies%5E45176571367461146179... (currently home page is a hack to ensure reading the notice...redirected to actual link after "session login" at the bottom).

Edit: Btw Im down from 212lb five or six years ago to 153lb, and i came to the same strats as the first four mentioned in this article.

How much is 7 million annual premature deaths?

I tried googling "Annual premature deaths" to get an idea of how many people die prematurely a year, but it doesn't look like it is a figure that is worked with. The closest I found was that WHO apparently considers the 7 million people who die annually of pollution to be 1/8th of total annual death.

So apparently 12.5% of deaths can be avoided if we ate more fruit and vegetables.

Recently, i saw interesting speech about eating habits, by Michael Pollan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c31cAdYUvT8

Let them run 5 km.

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