If you eat more fruits and vegetables, you may lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.
A meta-analysis of cohort studies with 469,551 adults found that each extra serving of fruits and vegetables cuts the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by 4%.
The Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals’ Follow-up Study at Harvard University was the largest and longest study to date, tracking the health and eating habits of nearly 110,000 men and women over the course of 14 years.
The risk of cardiovascular disease decreases with an increasing daily intake of fruits and vegetables. Those who consumed 8 or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day were 30% less likely to have had a heart attack or stroke than those who consumed less than 1.5 servings per day.
All green leafy vegetables, including lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, and mustard greens, were most strongly associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, but all fruits and vegetables likely contributed to this benefit. Also significant were citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruits (and their juices), and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, and kale.
When researchers pooled data from the Harvard trials with six other long-term US and European studies on CHD and stroke, they found a similar protective effect. People who ate more than 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily had a 20% lower risk of heart disease and stroke than those who ate less than 3.