Most Americans aren’t getting enough of these
Fruits and vegetables are good for you. Common sense, right? But why are they so good for you?
Part of the reason is a large class of nutrients found in plant foods, called flavonoids, according to new research published in the journal Nature. These nutrients may reduce the risk for cancer and cardiovascular death. The benefits were strongest when participants consumed about 500 milligrams of flavonoids a day, an amount consistent with a diet high in fruits and vegetables.
The trouble is, most Americans aren’t consuming enough. Estimates from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that U.S. adults average between 200 and 250 milligrams of flavonoids per day.
To increase your intake, consider incorporating more high-flavonoid foods like citrus fruit, red berries, broccoli and apples into your daily diet. Other plant foods like tea, chocolate and red wine are also good sources of flavonoids.
Flavonoids alone won’t ensure a healthy ticker, though.
“Maintaining a healthy body mass index (BMI) is critical for heart health and can reduce instances of cardiovascular disease by more than 40%,” says Dr. Sunil Kadakia, a cardiologist at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, Ill.
BMI is one way to determine a healthy weight and is calculated using your weight and height. A healthy BMI is considered to be between 19-25, while a BMI of over 30 is considered obese. You can click here for a quick assessment to learn the weight range that’s considered healthy for you.
In addition to maintaining a healthy weight and eating more fruits and vegetables, Dr. Kadakia suggests getting more exercise, cutting out tobacco and getting a good night’s rest.
“What surprises most patients is that if you make these lifestyle changes, you can reduce the risk of a cardiovascular event by 87%,” he says.
Want to learn more about your risk for heart disease? Take a free, quick online assessment by clicking here.
About the Author
Kristen Johnson, health enews contributor, is a public affairs and marketing manager with Advocate Aurora Health. She previously worked as a speechwriter and staffer on Capitol Hill. She enjoys running marathons, good coffee and exploring Chicago’s many neighborhoods.