New research indicates that eating more fruits and vegetables may reduce your risk of dying from heart disease. According to a new study from the University of Oxford and published in the European Heart Journal, people who consumed eight or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day were 22 percent less likely to die from ischemic heart disease than those who consumed three or fewer servings a day.
Even among those who didn't eat a full eight servings each day, the more fruits and vegetables consumed consistently indicated a lower heart disease risk. For every additional serving above two per day, researchers found a four percent decrease in the rate of heart disease deaths.
"The CDC says that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S.," said Elizabeth Pivonka, Ph.D., R.D., president and CEO of Produce for Better Health Foundation, the nonprofit entity behind Fruits & Veggies—More Matters® national public health initiative. "Here is a scientific study that gives everyone another good reason to add at least one more serving of fruits and veggies every day."
An ABC News report noted that, "in the U.S., the recommended consumption of fruits and vegetables has often been promoted as 'five a day.' The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention moved away from that recommendation in 2007, to a more flexible approach, dubbed Fruits & Veggies—More Matters."
Pivonka says that Fruits & Veggies—More Matters is all about showing how easy it can be to add more nutritious, delicious fruits and vegetables to meals and snacks.
"It can be remarkably easy to fit eight servings of fruits and vegetables into your day," said Pivonka. "Start the day with two servings at breakfast by having one small banana and a four-ounce glass of 100 percent fruit or veggie juice. At lunch, have a salad with one cup of your favorite leafy greens and toss in a cup of your favorite fruit or vegetables like bell peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, garbanzo or kidney beans, sliced pears, or canned pineapple. Now you're up another three servings! Toss a quarter cup of raisins or dried cranberries on top and make it four. That's a total of six servings so far. At dinner, quickly microwave a frozen mixed vegetable side-dish, have your favorite fruit for dessert and you're there."
While most people realize that eating fruits and vegetables is important to a healthy diet, they still don't eat enough. According to PBH's 2010 State of the Plate report, the average person consumes about 1.8 cups of fruit and vegetables each day. Only eight percent of us eat the recommended amount of fruit each day and just six percent eat the recommended amount of vegetables in an average day.
Pivonka points out that if increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables you're currently eating up to eight servings per day seems daunting, the study shows that adding even one serving per day can provide extra heart protection.
"Simply make a promise to yourself that you will add one additional fruit or vegetable serving every day this week. You'll find it's easier than you think. When this week is over, promise to continue with the added serving next week too. Pretty soon you're eating more nutritious, real foods and less empty-calorie foods that provide little real nutrition. To help keep you focused on eating more fruits and veggies for better health, Fruits & Veggies—More Matters has developed the America's More Matters Pledge: Fruits & Veggies . . . Today and Every Day!"
The America's More Matters Pledge can be found at www.FruitsAndVeggiesMoreMatters.org, and it's easy to pledge online. Over 2,000 pledges have already been made! The Fruits & Veggies—More Matters website also has the tools you need to follow through with your pledge. Tips and advice on the website make it easy to add more fruits and vegetables to meals and snacks including; a recipe database with over 1,000 recipes, many of which can be made in 30 minutes or less, and a video center loaded with informational and entertaining short clips that offer fruit and veggie selection and storage advice, varietal comparisons, as well as fun facts and preparation ideas.
Need more help? The Fruits & Veggies—More Matters Menu Plan of the Week offers a full day's eating plan that includes, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and either two or three snacks that total less than 2,000 calories and less then 2,300 mg of sodium. The Fruits & Veggies—More Matters Recipe of the Week is a great way to add new recipes to your collection. Each is low in total fat, sodium, and added sugar, while being high in fiber.
For this new study, researchers from the University of Oxford in England analyzed data from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) heart study, in which more than 300,000 participants, age 40 to 85, provided information about dietary intake. The EPIC study started in 1992 gathered data until 2000.
Produce for Better Health Foundation