Eat more fruits and vegetables for a healthy heart!
While Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the U.S., many of the risk factors are largely preventable through healthy eating and lifestyle patterns. One of the most important dietary factors often overlooked is our intake of fruit and vegetables. We all hear that eating more fruit and veggies is important, but most people aren’t getting nearly enough of these amazing disease-fighting foods. While the USDA recommends adults consume at least 2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables each day, the Produce for Better Health Foundation published findings that the average person consumes only 1.8 cups combined of fruit and vegetables each day, which is less than half of the recommended amounts. In terms of heart health, fruit and vegetable intake is closely correlated with healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels, along with reduced risk of heart attacks.
A very important study (The Nurses’ Healthy Study and Healthy Professionals follow-up study) concluded that people who consumed larger amounts of fruit and vegetables had a reduced risk of developing heart disease. In fact, those who had 8 or more servings of fruit and vegetables each day were 30% less likely to have a heart attack than those who ate the fewest servings. Those who ate 5 servings of fruits and veggies still had a 20% reduced risk of having heart attacks.
Not only are fruits and veggies great sources of fiber, vitamins and minerals, but they also contain antioxidants, which are compounds in fruits and vegetables (especially deeply colored ones) that may help reverse cellular damage and may play a role in the prevention of illnesses like cancer and heart disease.
If all of this isn’t enough to get you running to the nearest farmer’s market or produce section of your grocery store, here’s another great benefit of getting in those fruits and veggies: these are some of the best “diet-friendly” foods because they are what we call “nutrient dense” meaning they have very high nutritional value for minimal calories. They’re the foods that are always great to eat more of if you’re still feeling hungry but trying to watch your calorie intake, which is something we tell our guests of our adult weight loss camp. So make a point to add more fruits and veggies to your day to improve your health!
Here’s a fresh, delicious, and heart healthy recipe. It’s a delicious green smoothie we make at Shane Diet & Fitness Resorts for a healthy snack or dessert. Our guests love it, and this is the perfect way to sneak extra veggies into your day!
Berry Spinach Smoothie
Makes 4 servings (about 10 ounces each)
- 2 Bananas
- 2 cups ice (preferably crushed)
- 1 cups Blueberries
- 1 cup Strawberries, chopped
- 2 cups spinach (packed)
- ½ cup plain Soymilk
- Combine all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. If needed, ingredients can be added individually if the blender is too full.
Nutrition Info Per serving (about 10 ounces): 115 calories, 24g carbohydrate, 1g fat, 4 g protein, 41mg sodium, 14 g sugar
- Hung HC, Joshipura KJ, Jiang R, et al. Fruit and vegetable intake and risk of major chronic disease. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2004; 96:1577–84.
- State of the Plate: 2010 Study on America’s Consumption of Fruits and Vegetables, 2010.
- Produce for Better Health Foundation. Web. http://www.pbhfoundation.org