How to live longer: The foods you should be eating every day to avoid early death

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Getting your five a day has never been more important as one in seven deaths from heart disease and stroke is caused by eating less fruit than two apples a day, according to a new study. And one in 12 have been linked with eating less than 400g of vegetables daily, such as three cups of raw carrots, researchers said. In 2010, 2.8 million people worldwide died from heart attacks and strokes caused by lack of fruit and veg. A team who analysed data from the Global Dietary Database attributed nearly 1.8 million cardiovascular deaths – the world’s number one cause of death – to low fruit intake.

Low vegetable consumption resulted in another one million deaths that year, according to the scientists.

And a lack of fruit and veg consumption affected young adults dying of cardiovascular disease more than any age group.

The scientists estimated that suboptimal fruit consumption results in nearly 1.3 million deaths from stroke and more than 520,000 deaths from coronary heart disease (narrowing of the heart’s arteries) worldwide each year.

A lack of vegetable consumption was estimated to result in about 200,000 deaths from stroke and more than 800,000 deaths from coronary heart disease.

The Global Dietary Database project, which is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, contains causes of death and cardiovascular risk data from 113 countries, covering about 82 percent of the world’s population.

They used dietary guidelines and previous studies of cardiovascular risk factors to define optimal daily fruit and vegetable intake as 300g and 400g respectively.

Lead study author Dr Victoria Miller, researcher at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in the US, said: “Fruits and vegetables are a modifiable component of diet that can impact preventable deaths globally.

“Our findings indicate the need for population-based efforts to increase fruit and vegetable consumption throughout the world.”

Fruits and vegetables are good sources of fibre, potassium, magnesium, antioxidants and phenolics, which have been shown to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol.

They also improve the health and diversity of good bacteria in the digestive tract.

Previous studies have also shown people who eat more fresh fruit and veg are less likely to be overweight or obese, lowering their risk of cardiovascular disease.

Senior study author Associate Professor Dariush Mozaffarian, of Tufts University, said: “Global nutrition priorities have traditionally focused on providing sufficient calories, vitamin supplementation and reducing additives like salt and sugar.

“These findings indicate a need to expand the focus to increasing availability and consumption of protective foods like fruits, vegetables and legumes- a positive message with tremendous potential for improving global health.”

It also affected men more as women tended to eat more fruits and vegetables.

The impact of inadequate fruit and vegetable intake was greatest in countries with the lowest fruit and vegetable consumption.

Countries in South Asia, East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa had low fruit intake and high rates of associated stroke deaths.

While countries in Central Asia and Oceania had low vegetable intake and high rates of associated coronary heart disease.

Drinking as little as two cups of coffee a day has been found to increase life expectancy by up to two years, according to a recent study.

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