The study is published online in the “European Heart Journal.”
The data, which come from the “European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition” (EPIC), show that people who ate at least eight portions of fruit and vegetables a day had a 22% lower risk of dying from heart disease than those eating fewer than three portions a day. One portion was defined as weighing 80 grams — or, one small banana, a medium apple, or a small carrot.
The information comes from more than 300,000 people in eight different European countries. Among them, 1,636 died of heart disease. It shows a four percent lower risk of dying from ischemic heart disease (IHD) for each extra fruit or vegetable eaten past two a day. For example, someone eating five portions a day has a four percent lower risk of dying from heart disease than someone eating four portions a day.
IHD is a disease involving reduced blood supply to the heart. It can lead to angina, heart attack, or heart failure.
The study lasted from 1992 to 2000, spread across 10 countries. Participants were between 40 and 85 years of age. They were tracked for an average of nearly eight and a half years. It found that the average intake of fruit and vegetables was five portions a day.
While the study is limited in some ways, there is one main message to cull from it: People who regularly eat multiple fruit and vegetable servings each day have added protection against dying from the world’s leading cause of death. A reduction of 22%, as mentioned earlier, is “huge” according to the researchers.