Higher consumption of fruits and vegetables is linked to a lower risk of mortality, according to a recent review published in the British Medical Journal. Chinese researchers found that eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease by four percent. Meanwhile, individuals who consumed more than five servings a day had a 26 percent lower risk of stroke and coronary heart disease.
The link between fruit and vegetable consumption and mortality risk
The researchers used 16 prospective cohort studies that outlined the effects of fruit and vegetable consumption and studies that reported mortalities caused by cardiovascular disease.
All 16 studies had a total number of participants that amounted to 833,234. All 16 studies also reported a total of 56,423 deaths caused by cardiovascular disease.
However, the researchers used only select studies depending on the purpose of analysis. For instance, the researchers analyzed only four studies that specifically investigated the link between fruit and vegetable consumption and the risk of cardiovascular mortality. Collectively, the four studies examined the data of 469,551 participants. Upon analysis, the researchers discovered that fruit and vegetable consumption led to a four percent reduction of cardiovascular mortality risk.
Additionally, upon analyzing eight cohort studies, the researchers found that the consumption of more than six servings of fruits and vegetables a day reduced the risk of stroke by 26 percent. To sum up, the researchers recommended the increased consumption of fruits and vegetables to prevent the onset of chronic diseases and to improve overall longevity.
Foods that increase longevity
Eating a variety of nutritious foods is the key to a long life. As proven by the comprehensive review, fruit and vegetable consumption can reduce the risk of mortality. But certain nutrient-dense foods can increase life expectancy as well. The following is a list of foods that are linked to a variety of health benefits.
Fruits are excellent sources of antioxidants, natural sugars, dietary fiber and important micronutrients like vitamins A, C and E. Due to the anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties of antioxidants, people who regularly consume fruits are less likely to get sick and experience complications. Fruits also contain tons of heart-healthy micronutrients, like potassium, folate, iron, magnesium and phosphorus, that reduce cholesterol and promote blood circulation.
Leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables
Green leafy vegetables are extremely nutritious sources of antioxidants and active compounds that enhance immunity. Flavonoids, a type of antioxidant, can protect against cardiovascular disease and metabolic disorders. Meanwhile, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage and Brussel sprouts contain high amounts of sulfur-rich compounds that fight disease-causing pathogens.
Beans and legumes
Protein powerhouses like beans and legumes are excellent meat substitutes. Protein supports muscle development and creates amino acids that repair tissues, prevent disease and improve brain function. As plant-based foods, beans and legumes also contain dietary fiber that promotes digestion and prevents cholesterol buildup.
Herbs and spices
Herbs and spices contain high concentrations of bioactive compounds that have medicinal properties. For instance, the pungent garlic compound known as allicin has strong antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects against infection. Curcumin, the main active ingredient of turmeric, is also known as a potent antioxidant agent. Other herbs and spices, like basil, cinnamon, ginger and sage, are also commonly used as natural remedies.
A balanced diet requires a good amount of heart-healthy fats known as omega-3 fatty acids. Although certain non-meat foods like avocados and walnuts contain omega-3 fatty acids, fatty fishes like salmon, mackerel and tuna contain higher concentrations of fats. Omega-3 fatty acids are considered to be heart-healthy fats due to its ability to prevent the accumulation of cholesterol along arterial walls. Additionally, omega-3 fatty acids can boost brain function and prevent age-related cognitive decline. (Related: Omega-3 improves quality of life of breast cancer survivors.)
Food is the body’s primary source of nourishment. To increase longevity and avoid ailments and disease, make it a habit to consume organic and nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, herbs and lean meats.