Low intake of fresh fruits and vegetables linked to cardiovascular death: Following a balanced diet boosts heart health

Image: Low intake of fresh fruits and vegetables linked to cardiovascular death: Following a balanced diet boosts heart health

(Natural News) Both fruits and vegetables are chock-full of vitamins, nutrients, antioxidants and dietary fiber that all contribute to improving overall health. Living a healthier lifestyle involves making the necessary dietary changes to get the required amount of vitamins and minerals you need each day. Now, recent research suggests that eating more fruits and vegetables can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease death.

A study presented at the American Society of Nutrition annual meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, showed that inadequate consumption of fruits and vegetables could be responsible for millions of cardiovascular disease-related deaths worldwide every year. In fact, the study estimated that 1 in 7 cases of cardiovascular deaths are caused by not eating enough fruit while 1 in 12 cardiovascular deaths are caused by not eating enough vegetables.

“Our findings indicate the need for population-based efforts to increase fruit and vegetable consumption throughout the world,” says study lead author Victoria Miller. “Eating more fruits and vegetables is a relatively accessible and affordable strategy to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.”

Keep your heart happy with fruits and vegetables

The American Heart Association claims that heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. This emphasizes the need to look for ways to prevent the onset of the deadly disease. For the study, researchers from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Boston aimed to derive accurate estimates of the burden of cardiovascular disease attributable to fruit and vegetable consumption, (and a lack thereof).

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To do so, the research team looked at 2010 surveys and food availability data from 113 countries and made estimates on national averages of fruit and vegetable intake. All in all, these countries represent 82 percent of the world’s population. The researchers then combined the estimates with each country’s data on the causes of death with data on the cardiovascular risks of different levels of fruit and vegetable consumption. This allowed them to create a viable model to calculate how many of these deaths were caused by a lower intake of fruits and vegetables.

The researchers defined optimal fruit intake as 300 grams per day, which is equivalent to eating two small apples. On the other hand, the optimal intake of vegetables was defined as 400 grams per day, equal to about three cups of carrots. The team based these numbers on dietary guidelines and other studies that focused on cardiovascular risk factors.

Based on these findings, the researchers calculated that low fruit consumption was responsible for about 1.8 million deaths from cardiovascular disease worldwide. 1.3 million of these deaths were attributed to stroke while a little more than 520,000 deaths were associated with coronary heart disease. For vegetables, lower intake was linked to about 1 million deaths — 800,000 from coronary artery disease and 200,000 from stroke. (Related: Prevent stroke by eating fruits and veggies.)

The researchers also identified that countries in South Asia, East Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa were on the lower echelons of fruit intake while having a much higher rate of death from stroke. On the other hand, countries in Central Asia and Oceania suffer from lower vegetable intake while also having a high rate of coronary artery disease.

In the United States, the research team estimated that low vegetable intake could be linked to 82,000 cardiovascular deaths while low fruit intake could account for about 57,000 deaths. In addition, they identified that younger people and men were more likely to see their risk of cardiovascular disease death increase because of low fruit and vegetable intake.

Miller claims that fruit and vegetable consumption is “a modifiable component of diet that can reduce the risk of cardiovascular deaths.” Eating more of these healthy foods can provide various benefits that could contribute to improving cardiovascular health. She also says that minimally processed foods can support good health by diversifying the “good” bacteria found in the gut microbiota.

Add more fruits and vegetables in your diet — your heart might thank you for it. Learn more about proper diets and the various benefits that accompany them at Nutrients.news.

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