A new preliminary study has estimated that around one in seven cardiovascular deaths around the world could be linked to not eating enough fruit, and one in 12 cardiovascular deaths might be due to not eating enough vegetables.
Carried out by researchers at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in the United States, the new study looked at 2010 data collected from 266 surveys.
These surveys included 1,630,069 individuals from 113 of 187 countries, representing 82% of the world’s population.
Using the survey responses, the researchers estimated the average national intakes of fruit and vegetables in each country.
This data was then combined with each country’s data on the causes of death and cardiovascular risk associated with a low intake of fruit and vegetables.
Optimal fruit intake was defined as 300 grammes per day, equivalent to around two small apples.
Optimal intake of vegetables, which also included legumes, was defined as 400g per day, equivalent to about three cups of raw carrots.
The findings, which were presented at the American Society for Nutrition’s annual meeting held on June 8-11, 2019, suggested that low fruit intake may be linked with nearly 1.3 million deaths from stroke and more than 520,000 deaths from coronary heart disease around the world in 2010.
Meanwhile, low vegetable intake was linked to 200,000 deaths from stroke and more than 800,000 deaths from coronary heart disease.
The countries where low fruit and veg intake appeared to have the biggest impact were in South Asia, East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, which had low fruit intake and high rates of associated stroke deaths.
Meanwhile, countries in Central Asia and Oceania had low vegetable intake and high rates of associated coronary heart disease.
In the US, the team estimated that not eating enough vegetables could contribute to 82,000 cardiovascular deaths, while low fruit intake may account for 57,000 deaths.
Low fruit and vegetable intake also appeared to have the biggest effect on cardiovascular disease deaths among younger adults and men, which the team say may be due to the fact that women tend to eat more fruits and vegetables.
“Fruits and vegetables are a modifiable component of diet that can impact preventable deaths globally,” said lead study author Victoria Miller.
“Our findings indicate the need for population-based efforts to increase fruit and vegetable consumption throughout the world.” – AFP Relaxnews
If you walk through the vegetable section in a wet market or hypermarket, you will find all kinds of vegetables in a variety of shapes and colours.
In one corner, you will find green leafy vegetables like spinach and lettuce, and in another, you will find cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage.
There are also root vegetables like carrots and turnips, as well as fruit vegetables like pumpkin, tomatoes, cucumbers and capsicum.
We are definitely spoiled for choices when it comes to veggies!
Vegetables have long been recognised as essential sources of nutrients to promote health. However, do you think you are eating enough vegetables?
According to the Malaysian Adult Nutrition Survey 2014, most Malaysian adults do not consume enough vegetables.
On average, an adult consumes 1.6 servings of vegetables daily, much lower than the recommended three servings daily.
Meanwhile, the 2017 National Health and Morbidity Survey’s Nutrition Survey found that 92.2% of Malaysian adolescents (Year 4 to Form 5) do not eat enough vegetables.
These numbers show that there is still a lack of awareness on the importance of sufficient consumption of vegetables in the daily diet.
Various studies have shown that regular and adequate consumption of vegetables play crucial roles in preventing various diet-related non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, cancer and obesity.
Vegetables are high in fibre, which aid in digestion and maintain a healthy gut.
Their low caloric content is helpful in controlling calorie intake and weight gain.
They are also rich in micronutrients, such as vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, which play major roles in various metabolic processes in our body.
For example, vitamin A in carrots, red capsicums and pumpkins, can keep eyes and skin healthy, while phytonutrients like lycopene and beta-carotene (from the red and orange colours in vegetables), are important antioxidants that may help improve the immune response and inhibit cancer growth.
Therefore, nurturing the habit of eating vegetables from young is vital.
This will ensure your child gets used to the taste of vegetables, starts loving to eat them, and subsequently, benefit from them.
To get enough essential nutrients from vegetables, the Malaysian Dietary Guidelines recommends at least three servings of vegetables daily.
We can achieve this by having at least one serving of vegetables at each main meal: breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Be sure to eat vegetables of different types and colours in order to obtain maximise your intake of the various nutrients.
However, as all parents know, it can sometimes be a challenge to get your child to eat vegetables.
Fret not! There are many ways to encourage your child to take up the habit.
All you need is a little extra effort, which will go a long way in ensuring that your child gets all the important nutrients from vegetables.
• Variety is tasty
Try out different varieties of vegetables to see if your child has any preferences.
Some children may like the crunchiness of carrots, cauliflower, broccoli and cucumbers, or the mushy texture of pumpkin, while some may prefer the sour taste of tomatoes.
As your child discovers different flavours and textures of vegetables, their palate will get used to how vegetables taste, and eventually, they will accept vegetables as part of their diet.
• Get your child involved
Bring your child to the market when shopping for groceries and let them pick any vegetables they like.
When cooking, you can let your child help you by washing, peeling or cutting vegetables, depending on what is appropriate to their age.
Your child will be more likely to try vegetables when they are involved in preparing the meal.
• Be creative and fun
Vegetables are a versatile ingredient. They can be cooked in many ways: stir-fried, steamed, boiled, roasted, made into soup or eaten raw.
They can also be cut in certain ways (e.g. by using animal-set cutter moulds) to make them into shapes that your child likes.
Try combining several vegetables with different colours, flavours, shapes and textures in your meal.
A right combination will result in a meal that is not only delicious, but also appealing to the eyes.
• Enhance the flavour
It is easier to entice kids into eating vegetables if you get the taste right.
You can use seasonings like spices, herbs and flavour enhancers such as white pepper, garlic, onion, lemongrass, thyme, parsley, vinegar and lemon, in your vegetable dishes.
Alternatively, you can also enhance a vegetable dish by adding some diced chicken, minced meat, or even ikan bilis, to stir-fried broccoli, cauliflower, lady’s fingers, long beans or other vegetables.
Use your creativity to improve taste of vegetables to get children to eat them!
Most of us are actually aware of all the benefits of vegetables. Nevertheless, our daily consumption of vegetables is still below recommended levels.
To address this issue, we need to start from the beginning, with our kids.
Use these tips to get your whole family, especially your kids, to eat more vegetables.
With a little effort and crafty cooking, getting your child to love vegetables is not an impossible mission.
Ng Kar Foo and Lee Zheng Yii are with the Malaysian Dietitians’ Association (MDA). This article is contributed by Nutrition Month Malaysia 2019, an annual community nutrition education initiative jointly organised by the Nutrition Society of Malaysia, MDA and the Malaysian Association for the Study of Obesity. NMM will be organising a Food-Fit-Fun Fair at IOI City Mall, Putrajaya, on April 17-21, 2019.
New American research (July 2018) has found that women who eat at least five-and-a-half portions of fruit and vegetables every day may have a lower risk of breast cancer, especially aggressive tumours, than those who have a lower daily intake.
Led by researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the large-scale study looked at 182,145 women aged 27 to 59 years taking part in the long-term Nurses’ Health Study and Nurses’ Health Study II, two of the largest investigations looking into women’s risk factors for major chronic diseases.
The researchers analysed diet questionnaires submitted by the women every four years, as well as data provided on other potential breast cancer risk factors, such as age, weight, smoking status and family cancer history.
The results showed that women who ate more than 5.5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day had an 11% lower risk of breast cancer than those who ate 2.5 or fewer servings.
A serving was defined as one cup of raw leafy vegetables, half a cup of raw or cooked vegetables, or half a cup of chopped or cooked fruits.
In particular, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, and yellow and orange vegetables, were found to have a particularly significant association with lower breast cancer risk.
The team also studied whether fruit and vegetable consumption affected various types of breast cancers differently, finding that higher consumption of fruits and vegetables appeared to be particularly beneficial for lowering the risk of more aggressive tumours, including ER-negative, HER2-enriched, and basal-like tumours.
“Although prior studies have suggested an association, they have been limited in power, particularly for specific fruits and vegetables, and aggressive subtypes of breast cancer,” commented first author Maryam Farvid.
“This research provides the most complete picture of the importance of consuming high amounts of fruit and vegetables for breast cancer prevention.”
Previous work by the same researchers found that a higher intake of fibre is linked with a reduced risk of breast cancer.
But the benefits of fruits and vegetables found in this study appeared to be independent of their fibre content, suggesting that other components, such as antioxidants and other micronutrients, may also be important in reducing breast cancer risk.
“While a diet with lots of fruits and vegetables is associated with many other health benefits, our results may provide further impetus for women to increase their intake of fruits and vegetables,” said senior author Heather Eliassen.
The results were published online in the International Journal of Cancer. – AFP Relaxnews