A new study commissioned by The American Society for Nutrition has revealed some potentially alarming news about the importance of adequate Fruit and Vegetable content in our diets. Many of us are not getting enough, and that fact is clearly associated with millions of deaths from heart disease each year.
The recently released latest version of Canada’s Food Guide says at least half of our dinner plate should be covered by Fruits and Veggies. That’s a tall order for many, who are used to eating more Starches and Proteins. But that’s the official prescription for maintaining optimal health and vitality.
What they did
Researchers at Tufts University wanted to know just how seriously ‘suboptimal’ consumption of Fruits and Veggies was affecting our health.
First, they defined ‘optimal’ Fruit intake as 300 grams per day, equivalent to roughly two small Apples, and optimal intake of Vegetables, including Legumes, as 400 grams per day, equivalent to about three cups of raw carrots.
Then , they compared those thresholds with the actual national intakes of Fruit and Veggies from diet surveys and food availability data from 113 countries (about 82 percent of the world’s population).
Finally, they compared that information with data on causes of death in each country, and data on the cardiovascular risk associated with inadequate Fruit and Vegetable consumption.
What they found
The results showed that suboptimal Fruit consumption results in nearly 1.3 million deaths from stroke and more than 520,000 deaths from coronary heart disease 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.
Overall, study results showed that the countries with the lowest Fruit and Veggie consumption reported the highest rates of stroke and coronary heart disease.
“Global nutrition priorities have traditionally focused on providing sufficient calories, vitamin supplementation and reducing additives like salt and sugar,” said Senior Study Author Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian. “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 echoes what I’ve been saying for some time about the need to make fresh Fruits and Veggies more available to, and more affordable for everyone, especially those in lower income brackets and those on fixed incomes, such as seniors. Unfortunately, the study authors offer no suggestions as to how this can be done. That’s an issue we really need to do some research on.
~ Maggie J.