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Seven Seven


Posted by Dr No on 05 April 2014

W1A_1.jpgW1A (BBC Two) continues to amuse. Like totally. Following on from Twenty Twelve and WIA, the BBC must commission a third series, Seven Seven, being the slogan for like the new dietary advice to eat seven portions of fruit and veg seven days a week. With Lord Grantham tasked to deliver an alternative to the gruesome vision of a bloated ageing nation belching and farting its way to immortality, and the awesome perfect curves of Siobhan on hand to nail any loose puppies to the floor, Dr No SO gets it. Like totally. Give this pony some traction, guys, and we can be drinking from the fire-hose from the get go.

So, that’s all good then. Back in the real world, the read media ate up all its greens. The research, published in the snappily titled Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, was widely if somewhat credulously covered. Less served up were ways to up our intake. The BBC’s very own Prince of Pain Pus & Poison, serial guinea pig Mike Mosley – already slated for a cameo role in Seven Seven – took the rainbow route and then got totally bogged down in chemicals no one has ever heard of. More out to lunch than in with the recipes, he did however mention brassicas contain sulphur, a chemical we have all so totally heard of, and said to be essential for glutathione production, but totally failed to mention it is also essential for hydrogen sulphide production, another chemical we have all so totally heard of.

The research found that Grauniads – older, better educated higher social class women – tend to have the highest fruit and veg consumption, and the Guardian – never slow to preach to the converted - dutifully stepped up to the plate with seven tips to get your seven-a-day. Presented in Jamie Oliver brilliant mash and fantastic spud style, the seven tips were anything but the simple ways they purported to be to top up your greens. Kicking off with a tip to rot down red onions in a salted citrus jus, it travelled past blobs of goats’ cheese and dressing oases before arriving, à la Mose, at a rainbow solution, a land of spectral joy where the pukka green leaf may be ‘top-drawer’, but there was no need to be ‘that hardcore’. Each colour, says a Guardian ever more pregnant with a Mandela vibe, has its own ‘spectrum of health benefits’. So, that’s all good then.

Elsewhere, old fogies who should know better have pondered immortality. Noting in the Independent that five a day was good, and seven better, Howard Jacobson asked how many portions a day – 15? 20? - might guarantee eternal life, before so totally hitting the buffer that the study doesn’t answer this question. Instead, the study results show reductions in all cause, cancer and cardiovascular disease mortality associated with self-reported fresh veg and to a lesser extent fruit consumption over a median follow-up period of 92 months. Frozen/canned fruit, on the other hand, appear mildly toxic: subjects eating more frozen/canned fruit having significantly higher risk of all-cause mortality, with canned fruits probably the ones to carry the can because of their typically high sugar content.

The technical problem facing anyone keen to determine how many tonnes of spinach a day are needed guarantee immortality is that while the study appears reasonably sound (with some caveats, notably completeness of the data and validity of self reported previous 24 hour fruit and veg consumption as a measure of habitual consumption) as far as it goes, we cannot extrapolate to either yet higher consumption or longer follow-up. But, within its limits, the study is like totally sound enough for Dr No to say that most of us will benefit from shovelling more fresh veg down the cake hole, Seven Seven. So, that’s all good then. Time for the get go, guys. Let’s juice this lemon…mashtag #hashup…cool…

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