Fruit and vegetables make an important contribution to health, partly due to the composition of phytonutrients, such as carotenoids and polyphenols. The aim of the present study was to quantify the intake of fruit and vegetables across different European countries using food consumption data of increasing complexity: food balance sheets (FBS); the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) Comprehensive Database; individual food consumption data from the UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS). Across Europe, the average consumption of fruit and vegetables ranged from 192 to 824 g/d (FBS data). Based on EFSA data, nine out of fourteen countries consumed < 400 g/d (recommended by the WHO), although even in the highest-consuming countries such as Spain, 36 % did not reach the target intake. In the UK, the average consumption of fruit and vegetables was 310 g/d (NDNS data). Generally, phytonutrient intake increased in accordance with fruit and vegetable intake across all European countries with the exception of lycopene (from tomatoes), which appeared to be higher in some countries that consumed less fruit and vegetables. There were little differences in the average intake of flavanols, flavonols and lycopene in those who did or did not meet the 400 g/d recommendation in the UK. However, average intakes of carotenoid, flavanone, anthocyanidin and ellagic acid were higher in those who consumed >400 g/d of fruit and vegetables compared with those who did not. Overall, intakes of phytonutrients are highly variable, suggesting that while some individuals obtain healthful amounts, there may be others who do not gain all the potential benefits associated with phytonutrients in the diet.
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