Fruits are important for heart health
There are many controllable lifestyle factors that impact heart disease and your risk of having a stroke, including excess weight, smoking, not being an active person, and not keeping diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol in good control. Chinese researchers collected data on over 500,000 adults over a five-year period; none of these folks had heart disease at the beginning of the study. There was an interesting association between fruit intake and protection from heart disease.
Fruit intake is poor in China with only one in five adults eating fruit daily. In the United States adults eat two servings of fruit each day, although still less than the recommended three servings.
The cool discovery from this Chinese study is that there was a lower risk for cardiovascular disease when adults ate just one-half cup of fruit each day, or the equivalent of one serving. A daily serving of fruit helped to lower blood pressure and blood glucose levels, which might be the explanation for the lower heart disease rates.
Cardiovascular disease is a very complicated multi-factorial disease, but this study was interesting because there may be help in reducing disease risk by something very simple and somewhat reasonable in price – eating more fruit! Why fruits seem to be protective was not clear in this study but there are several possible reasons.
- High in dietary fiber to bind cholesterol in the intestinal tract
- A good source of potassium, a mineral that helps control our blood pressure
- A source of many antioxidants that help keep the lining of arteries clear
Think of ways to include at least three servings of fruit each day:
- Add diced fresh apple to simmering oatmeal
- Poultry is delicious when baked with fruits such as peach or plum slices
- Fruit salsa made with mango or papaya can be generously served over grilled white fish such as haddock or halibut
- Bring a couple of pieces of fruit to work each day
Make fruits happen!
Recipes to try:
About the Author
Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.