7 reasons why fruits and veggies are good for heart health
It turns out Mom was right: You should eat your fruits and veggies. And more of them. Your heart will thank you.
Although most people know that they ought to follow this advice, less than a quarter of Americans actually meet the minimum five daily servings of fruits and vegetables previously recommended by health experts.
In fact, most Americans consume just three servings – or 1 ½ cups – of fruits and vegetables daily, despite the fact that current guidelines now recommend between five and 13 servings a day. Plus, this isn’t nearly enough once you consider the many ways they’re good for your heart:
- Lower your risk of developing heart disease – Research shows those who consume the most fruits and vegetables daily have the lowest chance of developing heart disease. Increasing fruit and veggie intake by as little as one serving a day can reduce your risk of heart disease by 4 percent. Much of this benefit is due to dark leafy green vegetables and citrus fruits.
- Greater risk reduction for diabetics – The same study found that each additional serving of fruits and veggies resulted in a 10 percent lower relative risk of heart disease for men and 7 percent lower risk for women.
- Lower your risk of dying from heart disease – A large Finnish study reported similar findings on the benefits of fruits and vegetables. Those who ate the most vegetables had a 44 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease than those who ate few vegetables.
- Reduce you risk of stroke – In a study following middle-aged healthy men for 20 years, it was found that every increment of three daily servings of fruits and vegetables equated to a 22 percent reduction in risk of stroke.
- Lower your blood pressure – The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) study found that people with high blood pressure who ate a diet low in saturated fat and rich in fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy reduced their blood pressure to a level previously only accomplished with medication.
- Lower your cholesterol – The DASH study also found men and women who consumed the highest amount of fruits and vegetables (around four servings a day) had the lowest cholesterol. So, just imaging what eating the recommended five to 13 servings could do!
- Improve your nutritional profile – Research confirms that a typical "low-fat" diet that is high in processed convenience foods is inferior to that of a diet of unrefined foods, high in fruits and vegetables. Participants in the latter group took in far more fiber, beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, and folate – all of which have cardioprotective properties – than the low-fat dieters.