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The study presented at the meeting ‘Nutrition 2019’ in the Baltimore Convention Center, estimated 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 resulted in nearly 1.8 million cardiovascular deaths in 2010, while low vegetable intake resulted in 1 million deaths, according to researchers.

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.

“Fruits and vegetables are a modifiable component of the diet that can impact preventable deaths globally,” said Victoria Miller, lead study author of the study.

“Our findings indicate the need for population-based efforts to increase fruit and vegetable consumption throughout the world,” added Miller.

“Global nutrition priorities have traditionally focused on providing sufficient calories, vitamin supplementation and reducing additives like salt and sugar,” said Dariush Mozaffarian, senior author of the study.

“These findings indicate a need to expand the focus to increasing availability and consumption of protective foods like fruits, vegetables and legumes–a positive message with tremendous potential for improving global health,” Mozaffarian added.

Based on dietary guidelines and studies of cardiovascular risk factors, the researchers 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 researchers 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 combined 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 impact of inadequate fruit and vegetable intake was greatest in countries with the lowest fruit and vegetable consumption. Countries in South Asia, East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa had low fruit intake and high rates of associated stroke deaths.

Countries in Central Asia and Oceania had low vegetable intake and high rates of associated coronary heart disease.

By age group, 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, Miller noted.




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