Page last updated at 23:17 GMT, Saturday, 11 October 2008 00:17 UK

Common fibre a 'true superfood'

Vegetables
A fibre in fruit and vegetables may play a role in fighting cancer

A fibre found in most fruit and vegetables may help ward off cancer, experts believe.

An ongoing study by the Institute of Food Research suggested pectin, a fibre found in everything from potato to plums, helped to fight the disease.

Lead researcher Professor Vic Morris said the likely effect of the fibre meant there was no need for people to rely on so-called superfoods.

Foods such as blueberries and spinach have been linked to a host of benefits.

But Professor Morris said it was probably better to eat a wide range of fruit and vegetables.

There are still not enough people getting their five-a-day intake
Spokeswoman for the British Nutrition Foundation

He has been leading research on pectin with lab work using hi-tech microscopes suggesting the fibre inhibits a cancer-causing protein called Gal3.

He is still carrying out more research into this area, but said there was enough evidence to point to cancer-protecting properties in many types of fruit and vegetables.

The amount of pectin in fruit and vegetables varies with apples and oranges having particularly high amounts and strawberries and grapes low.

But Professor Morris said: "We hear so much about 'superfoods' like blueberries, but for a combination of different effects it may be better to eat a wide variety of fruit and vegetables.

"I am not saying don't eat superfoods, but just make sure you eat others as well."

'Boom in sales'

It comes after a boom in sales of superfoods in recent years.

Data collected by market analyst AC Nielsen found that sales of blueberries rose by 132% in the past two years.

A spokeswoman for the British Nutrition Foundation said: "It is very hard to know just what the effect of superfoods is as the evidence is not really available.

"But certainly we should not be focussing on these types and ignoring other fruit and vegetables. There are still not enough people getting their five-a-day intake."




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