Fruits & Vegetables, Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a primary risk factor for
heart disease and stroke. As such, it's a condition that is very
important to control. Diet can be a very effective tool for lowering
blood pressure. One of the most convincing associations between
diet and blood pressure was found in the Dietary Approaches to Stop
Hypertension (DASH) study. (3) This trial examined the effect on
blood pressure of a diet that was rich in fruits, vegetables, and
low-fat dairy products and that restricted the amount of saturated
and total fat. The researchers found that people with high blood
pressure who followed this diet reduced their systolic blood pressure
(the upper number of a blood pressure reading) by about 11 mm Hg
and their diastolic blood pressure (the lower number) by almost
6 mm Hg - as much as medications can achieve.
Eating more fruits and vegetables can also help
lower cholesterol. In the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's
Family Heart Study, the 4466 subjects consumed on average a shade
over 3 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Men and women with
the highest daily consumption (more than 4 servings a day) had significantly
lower levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol than those with lower consumption.(4)
How fruits and vegetables lower cholesterol is still something of
a mystery. It is possible that eating more fruits and vegetables
means eating less meat and dairy products, and thus less cholesterol-boosting
saturated fat. Soluble fiber in fruits and vegetables may also block
the absorption of cholesterol from food.
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Some basic fruit and vegetable tips:
Try to eat more fruits and vegetables.
If you need 2,000 calories a day to maintain your weight and health,
aim for at least nine servings (4½ cups) a day.
Choose a variety of different
fruits and vegetables. It's easy to get into a rut when it comes
to the food you eat. Break out and try a wider variety - include
dark-green, leafy vegetables; yellow, orange, and red fruits and
vegetables; cooked tomatoes; and citrus fruits.