Your garden could reduce your risk of heart disease
For a healthy heart, you really should start a steamy love affair with the produce aisle at your grocery store. Research from the University of Oxford found that folks who eat eight or more servings a day of fruit and vegetables are 22 percent less likely to die from heart disease than people who consumed three (the average most Americans get) or less daily servings.
Past studies, such as the Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study, which followed 110,000 people for 14 years, linked fruit and vegetable consumption to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, but didn’t do enough to convince everyone of the heart-healthy protection provided by food from the garden. But the Oxford study, the largest of its kind, looked at the eating habits of more than 300,000 people and has tap-danced all over those doubts.
How Fruits and Vegetables Work on Heart Health
Doctors believe fruits and veggies protect us from heart disease in several ways:
They lower inflammation, a known contributor to cardiovascular disease.
They are chock-full of the antioxidants, minerals and vitamins that could boost heart health and low in fat and calories.
A diet rich in them makes you feel full, leaving less room for the bad (read: high in cholesterol, fat and salt) foods associated with higher risk of heart disease.
Eating Eight a Day
So what does eight servings look like? It’s about 4.5 cups. (This handy tool from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can calculate how many fruits and vegetables you need.) And nutrition experts say you should sample a wide variety. If you can’t find fresh produce, frozen and dried varieties work just as well.