As if you needed another reason to consider the Mediterranean diet, new research presented at the American Society for Nutrition‘s 2019 conference suggests that a diet high in fruits and vegetables is directly linked to better cardiovascular health and lower risk for stroke-related deaths—even in young adults. Turns out there’s really something to that “apple a day” saying after all.
Researchers from Tufts University looked at 266 surveys on the subject of over 1.6 million people in over 100 countries around the world; in other words, their conclusions are a big deal. The team created a model based on existing research and data to estimate how many heart disease and stroke-related deaths were caused by diets low in produce consumption. The researchers concluded that diets low in fruit likely resulted in 521,395 coronary heart disease (CHD) deaths and 1.3 million stroke deaths, while diets low in vegetables likely caused 809,425 CHD deaths and 210,849 stroke deaths. (The research has not been published yet in a peer-reviewed journal.)
While the findings are newsworthy because of the sheer amount of people taken into account, they aren’t that surprising—at least they shouldn’t be. Healthy eating plans may have different views on meat, fats, or carbs, but the one trait they virtually all have in common is that they are rich in fruits and vegetables.
An easy way to up your daily produce intake: make sure each meal is made up of 50 percent fruits and vegetables. Traditionally, the American plate is heavy on protein and carbohydrates, but scientific research finds that shifting the focus to produce (like zucchini noodles and cauli-rice) is better for longterm health.
Also worth keeping in mind: While the findings in today’s news focus on heart health, scientific research has also shown that a diet high in fruits and vegetables is good for your brain, too. Shopping the produce section is going to benefit your entire body.
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