One of the most common arguments against eating a more plant-based diet tends to be affordability.
It is common to find that fresh fruits and vegetables (especially those labeled “organic”) tend to be far more expensive than cheap cuts of meat and heavily subsidized dairy products. This places an unfair burden on consumers who are forced to choose foods that will give them a more caloric bang for their buck than healthier alternatives.
Luckily, new research is finding that even a “modest” increase in healthy plant foods can mitigate some of the risk of developing life-threatening cardiovascular disease.
Researchers analyzed the results from the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study, publishing them in the journal the Lancet. The study reached 18 different countries and spanned 7 geographic regions, tuning into the eating habits, food availability and overall health of people living there. They documented dietary patterns of over 135,000 individuals using questionnaires which asked about fruit, veggie and legume consumption, as well as mortality and cardiovascular disease.
They discovered that the more of these types of foods these people ate, the lower overall mortality rates they experienced. Fruits had an especially impressive impact on health: three or more servings of fruit per day was found to result in a 19 percent lower risk in overall mortality.
“Our findings indicate that optimal health benefits can be achieved with a more modest level of consumption, an approach that is likely to be much more affordable,” explained study investigator Andrew Mente, PhD, from the Population Health Research Institute at McMaster University. “To our knowledge, this is the first study to report on the associations of fruit, vegetable and legume intake with CVD risk in countries at varying economic levels and from different regions.”
This is great news for populations who have difficulty in regards to access to and affordability of fresh produce. If people living in these situations can find a way to increase their fresh fruit, vegetable and legume consumption by just a serving or two a day, they could benefit greatly from lower health risks. Seeing as cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death around the globe, this could mean millions of lives saved.
Making this switch, however modest, can be a challenge for many reasons. Knowing that people can be busy and cooking from scratch and easily slide its way down our list of priorities, there are multiple, wonderful resources on sneakily upping our fruit and veggie consumption out there that we can investigate. Experiment with some of these tips yourself and spread the word to your friends and family: plants rule.
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