A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is often touted as the surest way to avoid heart disease, but does the evidence truly support this popular belief? Let’s take a look.
The Link Between Diets, Heart Disease, And Death
We know that diets rich in fruits and vegetables are good for us. They provide us with plenty of nutrients that we need to stay healthy. But just how good are they for our hearts?
Well, the evidence definitely suggests that diets rich in fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of heart disease. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), “eating lots of plants, especially citrus and tomato vegetables, can help prevent heart disease.” That’s because the compounds found in these foods are capable of reducing cholesterol and preventing damage to our blood vessels.
One large study even suggests that individuals who follow a diet rich in fruits and vegetables have a 43% lower risk of death due to cardiovascular disease (CVD) than those who don’t eat lots of veggies. This is similar to the findings of another study which showed that women who regularly ate vegetables had a 24% lower risk of coronary heart disease than those who didn’t eat many greens.
How Does Eating Plants Align With Preventing Heart Disease?
What exactly does the AHA mean by ‘diet rich in fruits and vegetables’? They suggest that this type of diet leads to a ‘nutrient-dense’ food profile which provides our bodies with antioxidants, fiber, and other important nutrients. These nutrients are necessary for maintaining good health and preventing diseases like heart disease.
While this may be true, there is more to the story. What many people don’t know is that fruits and vegetables are not always as good for us as we think. Certain ones contain a type of sugar that our bodies struggle to process which could potentially cause problems. These types of sugars are known as ‘simple sugars’ and can contribute to tooth decay and diabetes. You may be eating the “good’” fruits and vegetables, but that doesn’t mean they’re good for you.
The Dangers Of Processed Fruits And Vegetables
There are several dangers that come with eating processed fruits and vegetables. First, the quality of the food can vary a lot, so you’re never sure what you’re eating. Also, the food may have been cooked in unhealthy oils or eaten by animals which adds more toxins to the food. In terms of nutrition, most people don’t realize that they’re actually getting less nutrients when they eat these types of foods. Finally, some of these foods are high in calories which can add up quickly if consumed frequently.
It would be best if we didn’t rely on the labels that food companies stick on their products to tell us what’s in them. It can be difficult to keep track of all the added sugar, oils, and other types of fats that are in most foods. Instead of looking at the ingredients list, we should be looking at how the food was prepared. That way, we know if it’s good for us or not. If you’re worried about your diet preventing heart disease, it’s best to eliminate as many of the unhealthy foods from your diet as possible. In the long run, this will keep you healthier and prevent you from becoming a victim of heart disease.
One last thing to keep in mind is that it’s never a good idea to eat foods that you haven’t cooked yourself. Instead, buy only what you need and prepare the food yourself in good old-fashioned kitchens rather than buying it pre-cooked from a fast food place or restaurant. When our bodies are struggling to process any type of food, whether or not it’s cooked, it often results in malnourishment. Besides, the majority of fast food places prepare their food using ultra-processed ingredients, which we know doesn’t promote health.
The Evidence That Eating Fruits And Vegetables Can Prevent Heart Disease
Let’s take a look at the evidence that eating fruits and vegetables can prevent heart disease.
- The Nurses’ Health Study which was published in the British Medical Journal in 2014 showed that women who ate the most fruits and vegetables had a 43% lower risk of death due to heart disease than those who ate the least.
- Another Nurses’ Health Study which was published in the American Journal of Medicine in 2012 showed that women who ate the most fruits and vegetables had a 24% lower risk of coronary heart disease than those who ate the least.
- A large study from the United Kingdom which focused on diet and cardiovascular disease also showed that women who ate the most fruits and vegetables had a lower risk of heart disease than those who ate the least. This study spanned 12 years and followed over 48,000 women.
- A study from Harvard Medical School also showed that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables was associated with a lower risk of heart disease. The participants in this study were followed for 22 years and ate an average of 2.5 meals a day. The results of this study were recently published in the journal ‘Nutrition & Diabetes’.
- A study from New York University which also showed that diets rich in fruits and vegetables are associated with lower blood pressure.
- The American Heart Association also notes on their website that “eating lots of plants, especially citrus and tomato vegetables, can help prevent heart disease.” The AHA goes on to say, “these foods provide your bodies with antioxidants, fiber, and other important nutrients.”
- The evidence above suggests that eating fruits and vegetables is linked to a lower risk of heart disease. Further studies have even shown a possible link between diets rich in fruits and vegetables and a reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes.
There are many reasons why fruits and vegetables are good for our health. They provide us with nutrients which help maintain a healthy immune system. They also contain antioxidants which are capable of neutralizing harmful free radicals in our bodies. When our bodies are exposed to these harmful free radicals, it can result in cell damage and premature aging. Fruits and vegetables can also help prevent cardiovascular disease by lowering our cholesterol levels.
To say that eating fruits and vegetables can prevent heart disease is not a huge revelation. What is surprising is that while fruits and vegetable are essential for healthy living, they are rarely recommended as a means of treating or preventing heart disease. This is probably because doctors don’t always comprehend the relationship between diet and heart health. What we have here is a perfect example of an important connection that everyone should know about. Fruits and vegetables can help prevent heart disease and in many cases, it’s possible to see how dietary changes can drastically improve someone’s chances of avoiding this terrible disease.