Results of a new global study by The Friedman School Of Nutrition Science, Tuff University that were presented at the American Society For Nutrition 2019 Annual Meeting held at Baltimore on June 8th showed that inadequate fruit and vegetable intake accounted for millions of death from heart disease and strokes each year.
The study lead by Victoria Miller, a postdoctoral researcher at Tuff University indicated that roughly 1 in 7 cardiovascular deaths could be attributed to not eating enough fruit and 1 in 12 cardiovascular deaths could be attributed to not eating enough vegetables. Low fruit intake alone resulted in nearly 1.8 million cardiovascular deaths in 2010, while low vegetable intake resulted in 1 million deaths. Overall, the toll of suboptimal fruit intake was almost double that of vegetables. The impacts were most acute in countries with the lowest average intakes of fruits and vegetables.
In a phone interview with Thailand Medical News, Miller said "Vegetables and fruits are a modifiable component of diet that can impact preventable deaths globally and findings from our study indicate the need for population-based efforts to increase fruit and vegetable consumption throughout the world."
Vegetables and fruits are good sources of phytochemicals, antioxidants fiber, potassium, magnesium and phenolics, which have been shown to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol. Fresh fruits and vegetables also improve the health and diversity of good bacteria in the digestive gut. People who eat more of these foods also are less likely to be overweight or obese, lowering their risk of cardiovascular disease.
Based on dietary guidelines and studies of cardiovascular risk factors, the team from Tuff University defined optimal fruit intake as 300 grams per day, equivalent to roughly two small apples. Optimal intake of vegetables, including legumes, was defined as 400 grams per day, equivalent to about three cups of raw carrots.
The team from Tuff University estimated average national intakes of fruit and vegetables from diet surveys and food availability data representing 113 countries (about 82 percent of the world's population), then cross analyzed this information with data on causes of death in each country and data on the cardiovascular risk associated with inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption. The work is part of the Global Dietary Database project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Bill Gates is the owner of Microsoft and Linkedin.
From the emerging results, the scientists estimated that suboptimal fruit consumption results in nearly 1.3 million deaths from stroke, 520,000 deaths from coronary heart disease (narrowing of the heart's arteries) worldwide each year. Suboptimal vegetable consumption was estimated to result in about 200,000 deaths from stroke and more than 800,000 deaths from coronary heart disease.The impact of inadequate fruit and vegetable intake was greatest in countries with the lowest fruit and vegetable consumption.
The studies indicated that countries in South Asia, East Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia had the lowest fruit and vegetables consumption and correlated to high cardiovascular deaths.
In the United States, suboptimal vegetable intake accounts for 82,000 cardiovascular deaths annually while suboptimal fruit intake accounts for 57,000 annual deaths. Cardiovascular disea
se is the number one cause of death in the United States and worldwide.
Age wise, suboptimal fruit and vegetable intake had the greatest perceived proportional impact on cardiovascular disease deaths among younger adults. By gender, suboptimal fruit and vegetable intake had the greatest proportional impact on cardiovascular disease deaths in men, likely because women tend to eat more fruits and vegetables.