Fruits and vegetables: measuring intake and encouraging increased consumption

Proc Nutr Soc. 2013 May;72(2):236-45. doi: 10.1017/S0029665112003059. Epub 2013 Jan 16.


A high intake of fruit and vegetables (FV) is associated with reduced risk of chronic disease, although the evidence base is mostly observational. Blood biomarkers offer an objective indicator of FV intake, potentially improving estimates of intakes based on traditional methods. A valid biomarker of overall FV intake would be able to confirm population intakes, more precisely evaluate the association between intakes and health outcomes and confirm compliance in FV interventions. Several substances have been proposed as biomarkers of FV intake: vitamin C, the carotenoids and polyphenols. Certain biomarkers are strong predictors of single FV; however, the proposed single biomarkers of FV consumption are only modestly predictive of overall FV consumption. This is likely to be due to the complexity of the FV food group. While accurately measuring FV intake is important in nutrition research, another critical question is: how best can an increase in FV intake be achieved? Increased FV intake has been achieved in efficacy studies using intensive dietary advice. Alternative, less intensive methods for encouraging FV consumption need to be developed and tested for population level intervention. Systematic reviews suggest peer support to be an effective strategy to promote dietary change. This review will describe the evidence for a link between increased FV intake and good health, outline possible novel biomarkers of FV consumption, present the most recently available data on population intake of FV and examine the usefulness of different approaches to encourage increased consumption of FV.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers
  • Eating*
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Fruit*
  • Humans
  • Vegetables*


  • Biomarkers