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CMHC PULSE

Cardio Metabolic Health Congress – Official Blog

“An Apple A Day…”

A multitude of research indicates that consuming at least ten portions of fruits and vegetables per day significantly lowers the risk of cancer and heart disease. While the “five-a-day-rule” yields significant benefits, an extra five portions even further reduces the chance of disease development.

A study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology predicts that if everyone ate ten portions of fruits and vegetables per day, approximately 7.8 million premature deaths could be prevented—including a dramatic decrease in stroke, heart attacks, and cardiovascular disease. While the current UK guidelines are to eat at least five portions, or 400 grams, per day, fewer than one in three adults are thought to meet this target.

Yet researchers found that even smaller intakes had benefits: a daily intake of two-and-a-half portions was associated with a 16% reduction in heart disease, a 4% decrease in cancer, and a 15% lessening in the risk of premature death. The consumption of ten portions per day was associated with more dramatic decreases—the maximum protection against disease and premature deaths.

The scientific studies reveal that fruit and vegetables reduce cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and boost the health of blood vessels and the overall immune system. Compounds called glucosinolates in cruciferous vegetables—such as broccoli—activate enzymes that may also help prevent cancer. Fruits and vegetables may also have a beneficial effect on the naturally occurring gut bacteria, and contain many antioxidants that may reduce DNA damage.

It is critical to eat whole plants in order to receive the aforementioned benefits, as the beneficial compounds cannot be easily replicated in a supplementary pill. As a high intake of fruit and vegetables holds tremendous health benefits, we should all attempt to increase their intake in our diets.

Unhealthy “Health Fads”

A new paper recently published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology outlines several trendy ‘health fads’ that—in reality—are actually detrimental to a solidly nutritious diet.

While juicing has long been touted as a popular method to detoxify the body and lose weight, studies now demonstrate that while juicing may improve absorption of some plant nutrients, it leaves out a considerable amount of the fiber found in whole fruits and vegetables. Moreover, people who drink large quantities of juice tend to drink more concentrated calories, without feeling full and satiated afterwards. Research indicates that drinking calories is not as fulfilling as chewing them.

Another trend that has emerged as a global ‘dietary craze’ is coconut oil—yet it is naturally loaded with unhealthy, saturated fats. Additionally, the widespread gluten-free diet ultimately yields little positive health benefit for people not afflicted with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease. Using olive and vegetable oils in cooking is both more prudent and nutritious, as they contain healthy unsaturated fats.

The aforementioned conclusions are part of a newly released review of the latest scientific evidence concerning food and nutrition, initially conducted to shed light on the latest diet fads. The review’s lead author Dr. Andrew Freeman, co-chair of the American College of Cardiology’s Lifestyle and Nutrition Work Group, has articulated that there is a widespread confusion in terms of nutrition. The review of medical evidence related to overall healthy eating patterns and specific popular dietary fads in the country further reveals that high-dose antioxidant dietary supplements do not produce any more benefits than simply eating foods rich in antioxidants.

Eating a well-balanced diet generally does not require additional vitamin supplementation, and whole grains are ultimately healthier for people than gluten-free alternatives, which are often higher in processed carbohydrates. Researchers conclude that the best route to health is a predominantly plant-based diet that concentrates on whole unprocessed foods, with fruits and vegetables that are “antioxidant-rich nutrient powerhouses.”