Fruits and vegetables for heart health: More is better

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How many daily servings of fruits and vegetables should you eat to keep your heart healthy? Five servings a day (about two-and-a-half cups) appears to slightly lower your risk of heart attack and stroke. But pump up your produce intake to 10 servings a day, and you may lower your risk of cardiovascular disease by 28% and your risk of premature death by 31%, according to a new review article.

The findings, published online Feb. 22, 2017, by the International Journal of Epidemiology, were gleaned from 95 studies from around the world looking at the effects of fruit and vegetable intake. The items that seemed to offer the greatest benefits included apples, pears, oranges and other citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower), and green and yellow vegetables (such as green beans, carrots, and peppers).

Fruits and vegetables contain many healthful nutrients, especially fiber, which seems to help lower cholesterol and blood pressure and improve blood vessel function. That may explain the study results, the authors say.