This picture reminds me of all of the wonderful farmers markets throughout the country, and all of those family gardens with the benefits of harvesting one’s own fruits and vegetables. Since June is upon us, and that is the month chosen for celebrating fruits and vegetables, I thought it was an appropriate choice. Just the fact that it is in the shape of a heart is another reminder that all the nutrition that comes from those fruits and vegetables will certainly improve the condition of our heart.
Vegetables and fruit contain phytochemicals, or ‘plant chemicals’. These biologically active substances can help to protect you from some diseases. According to Dr. Dean Ornish, fruits and vegetables help reduce inflammation, whereas saturated fat, trans-fatty acids, and refined carbohydrates help promote inflammation. Foods that are high in refined carbohydrates also increase inflammation. Although inflammation has been recognized since ancient times, its contribution to cardiovascular diseases and other illnesses has only recently been fully appreciated.
Dr. Joel Fuhrman, author of Eat For Health, Lose Weight, Keep It Off, Live Longer, states, Heart disease as a major cause of disability and death is a recent phenomenon in human history. Heart disease has identifiable causes, and populations whose lifestyle practices do not create these causes do not have heart disease. Cultures around the world eating a healthy, vegetable-rich diet have no recorded heart disease, including hundreds of thousands of rural Chinese. The same diets that are high in animal fats and low in vitamins, minerals, fruits, and green vegetables, also have been shown to be related to the incidence of dementia.
On the HeartHealthyWomen.org website it referenced the Women’s Health Study, when nearly 40,000 healthy female health professionals completed detailed food questionnaires and were followed for an average of 5 years. Those who ate the highest amounts of fruits and vegetables cut their risk of cardiovascular disease including stroke and heart attack by one third compared with women who ate the least amounts. Similarly, the Nurses’ Health Study and the male Health Professionals Follow-up Study showed a 20% reduction in heart disease risk for men and women who ate the most fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables have many nutrients that may benefit the heart including folate, potassium, plant sterols (shown to lower cholesterol), and antioxidants such as vitamin C and flavonoids. They are also a good source of fiber
An article found in the Huffington Post, December 2012, cited a recent study conducted by University of Oxford researchers that showed those eating at least eight servings of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis is linked with a 22 percent decreased risk of dying from heart disease, than if you were to just eat three or fewer servings. Watch the following video from ABC news about this study: