It’s Science: Get plenty of Veggies every day
It’s hard to argue with the health benefits of a diet rich in vegetables and fruits: lower blood pressure; reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, and probably some cancers; lower risk of eye and digestive problems; and a mellowing effect on blood sugar that can help keep appetite in check.
But most Americans don’t eat enough of them. In fact, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only a third eat fruit at least twice a day, and only about 26% eat vegetables three or more times a day.
“Historically, nutrition campaigns have been social marketing campaigns targeting individuals,” states HSPH’s Lilian Cheung. “This is not enough — we need to create an environment that supports healthy eating.”
Vegetables, Fruits, and Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a primary risk factor for heart disease and stroke. As such, it’s a condition that is important to control. Diet can be a very effective tool for lowering blood pressure. One of the most convincing associations between diet and blood pressure was found in the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) study.
This trial examined the effect on blood pressure of a diet that was rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products and that restricted the amount of saturated and total fat. The researchers found that people with high blood pressure who followed this diet reduced their systolic blood pressure (the upper number of a blood pressure reading) by about 11 mm Hg and their diastolic blood pressure (the lower number) by almost 6 mm Hg—as much as medications can achieve.
More recently, a randomized trial known as the Optimal Macronutrient Intake Trial for Heart Health (OmniHeart) showed that this fruit and vegetable-rich diet lowered blood pressure even more when some of the carbohydrate was replaced with healthy unsaturated fat or protein.
5 tips for adding more fruits and veggies into your day
1. Keep fruit out where you can see it. That way you’ll be more likely to eat it. Keep it out on the counter or in the front of the fridge.
2. Get some every meal, every day. Try filling half your plate with vegetables at each meal. Serving up salads, stir fry, or other vegetable-rich fare makes it easier to reach this goal. Bonus points if you can get some fruits and vegetables at snack time, too.
3. Explore the produce aisle and choose something new. Variety is one key to a healthy diet. Get out of a rut and try some new fruits and vegetables.
4. Bag the potatoes. Choose other vegetables that are packed with more nutrients, and more slowly digested carbs such as whole grains.
5. Make it a meal.Try some new healthy recipes where vegetables take center stage.
Couple healthy eating with regularly scheduled massages, and who knows what health may grow!