A new global study published in Science Daily estimates that millions of deaths from heart disease and stroke can be linked to a lack of fruit and vegetable consumption.
The study estimated that roughly 1 in 7 cardiovascular deaths could be attributed to not eating enough fruit. Likewise, the research found 1 in 12 cardiovascular deaths could be attributed to not eating enough vegetables.
According to the researchers, low fruit consumption resulted in nearly 1.8 million cardiovascular deaths in 2010, while low vegetable consumption resulted in 1 million deaths.
Countries with the lowest average intakes of fruits and vegetables felt the worst effect, according to the researchers.
“Fruits and vegetables are a modifiable component of diet that can impact preventable deaths globally,” lead study author Victoria Miller, a postdoctoral researcher at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, said in a news release. “Our findings indicate the need for population-based efforts to increase fruit and vegetable consumption throughout the world.”
Researchers said fruits and vegetables are good sources of fiber, potassium, magnesium, antioxidants and phenolics, which have been shown to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol.
What’s more, people who eat more of these foods are less likely to be overweight or obese,
“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.” senior study author Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, said in the release.
Researchers said below-optimal vegetable consumption may account for 82,000 cardiovascular deaths, while below-optimal fruit consumption accounted for 57,000 deaths.