The Heart Healthy Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables

Of all the heart healthy diet advice, eating more fruits and vegetables is a consistent message. Many heart healthy diet plans are based on eating more plant foods like fruits and vegetables the low fat diet, the DASH diet, the Mediterranean diet, the vegetarian diet. What is so important about fruits and vegetables? Of course, scientists don't know the exact component of fruits and vegetables that help prevent heart disease. But there are so many good things in fruits and vegetables that scientists have lots of theories.

Fruits and vegetables are naturally nutrient dense. Since most are low in calories, you get lots of heart healthy nutrients while eating few calories, more This benefit is two-fold. You get the heart healthy nutrients you need like vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Plus, it's easier to maintain a healthy weight with a diet based on low-calories foods.

Fruits and vegetables are high in fiber. Fiber can help lower cholesterol but it can be very hard to eat the recommended amount of fiber each day - 25 grams for adult women, 38 grams for adult men, 21 grams for women over 50, 30 grams for men over 50. Fruits and vegetables contain fiber, as do other plant foods like beans, whole grains, and nuts. On the other hand, meat and dairy products contain little or no fiber. By eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, you will get both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber.

Most fruits and vegetables are low in fat and have little or none of the fat that is unhealthy for your heart saturated fats and cholesterol. To keep levels of these fats low, be sure to eat fruits and vegetables that have been prepared without adding lots of saturated fat and cholesterol.

Fruits and vegetables are naturally low in sodium. If you are trying to eat a low sodium diet to keep blood pressure healthy or to help your heart do its work, eating fruits and vegetables without added salt is a great step.

Fruits and vegetables contain heart healthy nutrients and other compounds that might help your heart. Scientists believe eating foods with potassium, folate, vitamin C, vitamin E might be important to keys to heart health. Fruits and vegetables also contain an array of plant compounds like flavonoids, carotenoids, sulphoraphane, indoles, and ellagic acid. These phytochemicals' are being studies for their positive effects on health such as antioxidant effects, regulation of the immune system, hormone metabolism, and protection against bacteria and viruses.

The most important benefit may be that eating lots of fruits and vegetables means that you have less room in your daily diet for foods that are unhealthy for your heart foods high in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol and sodium. If you base your food decisions on eating more fruits and vegetables throughout the day, you are likely to pass up high fat, high sodium, and highly processed foods.

What is the goal for eating fruits and vegetables? As you go through each day, keep a count of the servings of fruits and vegetable you eat. For most people, the goal is five or more cups of fruits and vegetables each day. One cup is about the same as one piece of medium- or large-sized fruit, one cup of cooked vegetables, one cup of berries, or one cup of 100% fruit juice.

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