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When It Comes To Matters Of The Heart, Fruit Matters

fruit heart health legumes vegetables diet nutrition

Humans can live without many vitamins, but they can’t live without vitamin C. With that being the case, there are still so many practitioners who caution their patients to stay away from fruit for fear that it contains sugar. This is particularly the case when advising high cholesterol, high blood pressure and pre-diabetic patients. Avoiding fruit couldn’t be more dangerous advice, especially when it comes to matters of the heart.


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Heart Disease – A Vitamin C Deficiency

The simplest explanation for heart disease has been given by Linus Pauling, two-time Nobel Peace Prize winner, laureate and chemist, who postulated that all heart disease is caused by a deficiency in vitamin C. Of course, he was labeled as a quack for his findings, but as it turns out, Pauling wasn’t wrong. More and more research has shown the importance of vitamin C-rich foods in the diet like fruit vegetables and legumes in benefiting heart health.

Extensive Investigation Of Fruit, Vegetable and Legume Intake and Mortality

The association between intake of fruits, vegetables, and legumes with cardiovascular disease and deaths has been investigated extensively in Europe, the USA, Japan, and China, with total fruit, vegetable, and legume intake inversely associated with major cardiovascular disease, myocardial infarction, cardiovascular mortality, non-cardiovascular mortality. The study was published in The Lancet.

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Fruit Intake Documented In Seven Geographical Regions

Researchers did a prospective cohort study (Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology [PURE] in 135, 335 individuals aged 35 to 70 years without cardiovascular disease from 613 communities in 18 low-income, middle-income, and high-income countries in seven geographical regions: North America and Europe, South America, the Middle East, South Asia, China, Southeast Asia, and Africa.

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Researchers documented the participant’s diets using country-specific food frequency questionnaires at the start of the study. Standardized questionnaires were used to collect information about demographic factors, socioeconomic status (education, income, and employment), lifestyle (smoking, physical activity, and alcohol intake), health history and medication use, and family history of cardiovascular disease. The follow-up period varied based on the date when recruitment began at each site or country.

The participants were enrolled into the study between Jan 1, 2003, and March 31, 2013. Overall, the combined average of fruit, vegetable, and legume intake was 3.91 servings per day. During a median 7·4 years (5·5–9·3) of follow-up, 4784 major cardiovascular disease events, 1649 cardiovascular deaths, and 5796 total deaths were documented.

Not surprisingly, higher total fruit, vegetable, and legume intake were inversely associated with major cardiovascular disease, myocardial infarction, cardiovascular mortality, non-cardiovascular mortality, and total mortality in the models adjusted for age, sex, and center. When examined separately, fruit intake was associated with lower risk of cardiovascular, non-cardiovascular, and total mortality, while legume intake was inversely associated with non-cardiovascular death and total mortality (in fully adjusted models). For vegetables, raw vegetable intake was strongly associated with a lower risk of total mortality, whereas cooked vegetable intake showed a modest benefit against mortality.

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More Fruit, Less Deaths

Researchers concluded that higher fruit, vegetable, and legume consumption was associated with a lower risk of non-cardiovascular, and total mortality. Benefits appear to be maximum for both non-cardiovascular mortality and total mortality at three to four servings per day (equivalent to 375–500 g/day) but more amounts of these foods can be eaten.