Denver Cardiologist Recommends Fruits & Vegetables to Fight Diseases

A recent literature review, initiated by the German Nutrition Society and published in the European Journal of Nutrition, evaluates evidence from various studies and shows a considerable preventive potential of increased consumption of vegetables and fruit on a number of chronic diseases.

Overall Findings

Based on a comprehensive analysis of the study results, the authors found:

Convincing evidence that increasing the consumption of fruit reduces the risk of hypertension, coronary heart disease, and stroke. Probable evidence that • The risk of cancer in general is inversely associated with fruit and vegetable consumption.
• There is no influence of increased consumption on the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus, independent of overweight.
Possible evidence that • Increased consumption of vegetables and fruit may prevent body weight gain, perhaps indirectly reducing the incidence of type 2 diabetes mellitus, since overweight is the most important risk factor for this disease.
• Increasing the consumption of vegetables and fruit lowers the risk of certain eye diseases, dementia, and the risk of osteoporosis.
• An increase in vegetable and fruit consumption may contribute to the prevention of asthma, COPD, and rheumatoid arthritis.

The risk-reducing effects of vegetable and fruit consumption are primarily the result of the influence of vegetables and fruit and their phytochemicals on inflammatory processes, cellular redox
processes, and the endothelial and metabolic processes which are involved in the pathogenesis of various diseases.

Hypertension

Convincing evidence of the blood-pressure-lowering effect of an increase in the consumption of vegetables and fruit.

Coronary Heart Disease (CHD)

• Convincing evidence regarding the prevention of coronary heart disease by high consumption of vegetables and fruit.
• Protective association between the consumption of vegetables and fruit and the risk of CHD found in cohort studies.
• Intervention studies prove a beneficial influence of vegetables and fruit on metabolic pathways that are associated with the risk of CHD.

Stroke

• Convincing evidence that a high intake of vegetables and fruit reduces the risk of stroke.
• Favorable influence of the consumption of vegetables and fruit seen on metabolic pathways which also have an impact on the risk of stroke.
• Inverse association indicated in cohort studies between the consumption of vegetables and fruit and the risk of stroke.

Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus

• Probable evidence that the risk of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus is not influenced by the consumption of vegetables and fruit
• Vegetables and fruit indirectly influence the prevention of type 2 diabetes mellitus, as consumption might lower the risk of weight gain in adults.
• Risk of diabetes found to be significantly reduced in persons who consumed relatively large amounts of green leafy vegetables. (Other subgroups of vegetables and fruit have not been investigated.)

Obesity

• Probable evidence that an increase in vegetable and fruit consumption alone does not result in weight loss. Probable evidence that an increase in vegetable and fruit consumption leads to weight reduction, if this replaces food rich in fat or energy.
• Possible evidence that an increase in the consumption of vegetables and fruit contributes to weight stability (i.e., no weight increase occurs).

Cancer

• Probable evidence of an inverse relationship between the consumption of vegetables and fruit and the risk of cancer.
• Risk reductions have been observed in some large cohort studies, suggesting that the consumption of vegetables and fruit influences the risk of cancer. This influence is only detectable if there are large differences in the consumption of vegetables and fruit between groups and could appear only in case of high exposure to carcinogens, like in smokers.

Dementia

• Possible evidence for a reduced risk of dementia with increasing consumption of vegetables and fruit; the consumption of vegetables seems more important than that of fruit.
• Daily consumption of vegetables and fruit compared to rare consumption was associated with a 30% risk reduction of dementia, including Alzheimer’s, in one large cohort.
• Studies on cognitive performance suggest an inverse relation to the consumption of vegetables and fruit.

Osteoporosis

• Possible evidence that the prevention of osteoporosis is due to a higher consumption of vegetables and fruit.
• Another comprehensive literature review done by British experts concluded that a protective effect of a high intake of vegetables and fruit on bone health is possible, but the cause of this effect could not be determined.
• Many studies showed a positive association between the quantity of vegetable and/or fruit consumption and markers of bone health.

 

Rheumato id Arthr itis (RA)

• Possible evidence regarding the prevention of RA with a high intake of vegetables and fruit; rating reflects the low number of studies done.
• Some cohort studies show a reduced risk of RA with high consumption of vegetables and fruit.
• In the only available case-control study, a higher consumption of cooked vegetables (2.9 servings/day) was significantly associated with lower RA, while raw vegetables were not effective.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Possible evidence of the association between high intake of vegetables and fruit and the reduced risk of COPD, based on only a few cohort studies.

If you have questions about how your diet can be a great tool for preventative heart care, give the Health & Nutrition Team at South Denver Cardiology a call at 303-744-1065.