Fruits and Veggies Today Lead to Healthier Hearts Tomorrow
January 12, 2021
Most people know the health value of including lots of fruits and vegetables in their diets. More recent findings add a new twist: Young people who adopt these healthy eating habits early in life can protect their heart from disease decades later.
Research published by the American Heart Association shows that young adults who eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day may be up to 26% less likely to develop calcified coronary artery plaque, or clogged arteries, 20 years later. Plaque build-up can cause arteries to narrow and block blood flow, or break off and travel to other parts of the body, which is a common cause of heart attack or stroke.
The Right Mix: Diet and Exercise
Eating the right mix of fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins and dairy, along with recommended levels of daily physical activity, are important for younger people to stay healthy now and also into the future.
The USDA provides recommendations and a great guide that can be printed out to track daily servings by age group and calorie level. In the 14+ age group and for a 1,600 calorie diet, 1 1/2 cups of whole fruits and 2 cups of veggies are recommended daily.
6 Easy Ways to Add Fruits and Vegetables to Your Diet
Keep fruits and vegetables on hand and within easy reach so when you and your family members are hungry, everyone will be less tempted to grab a high calorie and less nutritious snack such as chips, crackers and cheese. Here are a few suggestions on how to incorporate fruits and vegetables into your daily diet:
- Add fruit, fresh, frozen, canned or dried, to your cereal and yogurt
- Top your toast with peanut butter and sliced bananas
- Add vegetables (tomatoes, onions, red or green peppers, mushrooms) to your omelet
- Eat a variety of fruit, such as an apple, pear, orange, plum, or raisins, or raw vegetables, such as carrots, celery and broccoli for a mid-morning, afternoon or evening snack;
- Choose a large salad rather than a sandwich for lunch
- Make fruits and vegetables about half of your lunch or dinner plate. Serve 2 vegetables with dinner and eat fruit for dessert.
Mrinalini Meesala, MD
Mrinalini Meesala, MD, FACC, RPVI is a non-invasive cardiologist with The Heart Group. Dr. Meesala has special interest include women’s heart health, and is board-certified in internal medicine, cardiovascular disease, echocardiography, and nuclear cardiology.
Education: Medical School–Osmania Medical College; Internship and residency–Drexel University College of Medicine; Fellowship–Hahnemann University/Drexel University