It is well-known that a diet heavy in fruits and vegetables can carry many health benefits, as they are low in fat and high in antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. More importantly, fruits and vegetables greatly benefit your heart by lowering blood pressure and decreasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and heart attack. With so many wonderful health benefits, the crucial role that fruits and vegetables play in our diet is clear, with recent research pointing to just how much we should be consuming.
Various resources can provide people with recommendations for combined daily intake of fruits and vegetables. For example, the American Heart Association recommends consuming up to eight or more servings daily, while the current food pyramid provided by the USDA recommends anywhere from 3-6 servings of vegetables and 2-4 servings of fruit. Interestingly enough, an important finding has shown that we should consume even greater amounts of fruits and vegetables when possible! The findings (combined results from 95 different studies conducted around the world) showed that increasing fruit and vegetable servings up to 10 servings a day can lower risk of cardiovascular disease by 28% and premature death by 31%!
The types of veggies and fruits consumed are very important. Green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, and some red vegetables such as beets, are excellent sources of inorganic nitrates. When eaten in their natural form, mixing with saliva and stomach acid releases nitrates from these foods. Further processing in the intestines converts the nitrates into nitrites, an important sources of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide, or NO, is a potent vasodilator, and a key natural substance in maintaining our vascular health. A very simple test carried out in our office allows patients to measure their nitrate intake level, and adjust their nutritional effort to increase their production of NO. This has helped many patients to achieve sustainable blood pressure reductions through lifestyle effort.
While it may seem like a no-brainer, many people still do not consume anywhere near the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that roughly half of the US population has less than 1 cup of fruit and 1.5 cups of vegetables every day! Therefore, it’s crucial to raise awareness about how significant increased fruit and vegetable intake can be for our health - more specifically heart health!
If you are concerned about your heart’s health or simply want to take preventative measures to improve and protect it, contact our expert practitioners who offer their vast skills, experience, knowledge, and passion to help patients achieve their cardiovascular health goals.