ovCardiovascular benefits from fruits and veggies are one of the best and easiest ways to manage your cardiovascular health. Remember Mom telling you to “eat your vegetables?” Well, according to the Harvard School of Public Health, that was pretty good advice. In an article on their website, studies are referenced that suggest that fruits and vegetables have numerous health benefits, ranging from gastrointestinal health to healthy eyes. They are also linked to heart health and a reduced risk of stroke, and possibly some cancer related benefits.
Cardiovascular Benefits From Fruits and Veggies
The biggest benefit of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables seems to be overall cardiovascular health. In one study (Harvard-based Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study) that included almost 110,000 men and women. The health and dietary habits of these men and women were followed by researchers for over 14 years. The higher the average daily intake of fruits and vegetables, the lower the chances become of developing cardiovascular disease. Leafy green vegetables such as spinach and mustard greens, cruciferous vegetables, and citrus fruits were beneficial in lowering the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Harvard researchers combined their findings with those of several other long-term studies in both the U.S. and Europe. They concluded that individuals who ate more than 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day had roughly a 20 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke. In comparison to individuals who ate less than 3 servings per day.
In a couple of other studies (the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) study and the Optimal Macronutrient Intake Trial for Heart Health), a significant lowering of previously high blood pressure was seen when saturated fat intake was restricted and replaced with a diet high in fruits and vegetables. The decrease in blood pressure observed by those performing the DASH study was as high as what can be accomplished by treating high blood pressure with medication.
The conclusion reached by the article’s author is that while not all of the studies done linking vegetable and fruit intake to a reduction in cancer are reliable. There may be a link between certain types of veggies and protection against certain types of cancer.
A report by the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research suggests that non-starchy vegetables—such as lettuce and other leafy greens, broccoli, bok choy, cabbage, garlic and onions, “probably” protect against several types of cancers, including those of the mouth, throat, voice box, esophagus, and stomach; fruit probably also protects against lung cancer. The author suggests “specific components of fruits and vegetables may also be protective against cancer.” Examples such as the lycopene in tomatoes. Lycopene is a carotenoid (compounds that the body can turn into vitamin A) found in many brightly colored fruits and vegetables, and may protect against prostate, lung, mouth, and throat cancer.
A diet high in fruits and vegetables is high in fiber and provides a positive effect on the digestive system. Fruits and veggies can help with IBS, constipation, and may help prevent diverticulosis and diverticulitis).
Lastly, the article suggests that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables helps the eyes. Dark leafy green vegetables and brightly colored fruits and vegetables, such as corn and kiwi, contain two pigments. (lutein and zeaxanthin) These can accumulate in the eye and protect against free radicals. This appears to aid in the fight against both cataracts and macular degeneration. So Mom was right…carrots can help you see better. Especially at night.
In The End
Eat your fruits and veggies anyway. They’re good for your whole body, not just your cardiovascular health.
Written by: Tricia Doane, FizzNiche Staff Writer