A new preliminary study has estimated that around one in seven cardiovascular deaths around the world could be linked to not eating enough fruit, and one in 12 cardiovascular deaths might be due to not eating enough vegetables.
Carried out by researchers at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in the United States, the new study looked at 2010 data collected from 266 surveys. These surveys included 1,630,069 individuals from 113 of 187 countries, representing 82% of the world’s population.
Using the survey responses, the researchers estimated the average national intakes of fruit and vegetables in each country. This data was then combined with each country’s data on the causes of death and cardiovascular risk associated with a low intake of fruit and vegetables.
Optimal fruit intake was defined as 300 grammes per day, equivalent to around two small apples. Optimal intake of vegetables, which also included legumes, was defined as 400g per day, equivalent to about three cups of raw carrots.
The findings, which were presented at the American Society for Nutrition’s annual meeting held on June 8-11, 2019, suggested that low fruit intake may be linked with nearly 1.3 million deaths from stroke and more than 520,000 deaths from coronary heart disease around the world in 2010.
Meanwhile, low vegetable intake was linked to 200,000 deaths from stroke and more than 800,000 deaths from coronary heart disease.
The countries where low fruit and veg intake appeared to have the biggest impact were in South Asia, East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, which had low fruit intake and high rates of associated stroke deaths.
Meanwhile, countries in Central Asia and Oceania had low vegetable intake and high rates of associated coronary heart disease. In the US, the team estimated that not eating enough vegetables could contribute to 82,000 cardiovascular deaths, while low fruit intake may account for 57,000 deaths.
Low fruit and vegetable intake also appeared to have the biggest effect on cardiovascular disease deaths among younger adults and men, which the team say may be due to the fact that women tend to eat more fruits and vegetables.
“Fruits and vegetables are a modifiable component of diet that can impact preventable deaths globally,” said lead study author Victoria Miller. “Our findings indicate the need for population-based efforts to increase fruit and vegetable consumption throughout the world.” – AFP Relaxnews