Individuals who regularly consumed more than one servings of fruits and vegetables each day can reduce their risk of developing coronary heart disease (CHD) by 4 per cent, according to a recent Harvard study. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in both men and women of the USA, killing more than 600,000 Americans every year. Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease, responsible for over 360,000 deaths in 2015 resulting from disease in the lining of the arteries.

For this study, researchers from Harvard University examined the diets and tracked the rate of occurrence of coronary heart disease in a cohort comprising 81,251 women between the ages of 34 to 59 years and 42,148 men within the age bracket of 40 to 75 years. The team of investigators followed the men for 8 years and the women for 14 years. At the end of the study, the research team concluded that "consistent consumption of fruits and vegetables, particularly green leafy vegetables and vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables, appear to have a protective effect against coronary heart disease."

The result of this study agrees with the findings of several studies that examined the link between fruit and vegetable intake and coronary heart disease risk. A 2008 study published in the Central European Journal of Public Health showed that habitual consumption of more than 5 portions of fruits per day and 3 portions of vegetables per day can decrease the likelihood of developing coronary heart disease by 60 per cent and 70 per cent respectively. Data from another study that was conducted by a group of Chinese scientists indicate that increased intake of fruits and vegetables can help reduce the incidence rates of coronary heart disease.

Researchers believe that components of produce, such as fiber, folate, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, may contribute generally to the lower incidence of coronary heart disease in people who consistently consume generous portions of fruits and vegetables instead of animal products. These plant nutrients work in unison to keep the heart in a healthy state and protect it from several disease conditions.  Because supplements are isolated as opposed to the plant nutrients that work in unison, supplements are not reliable promoters of heart health. By replacing fish and chicken with fruits and vegetables on his plate, an individual is supplying his heart with the nutrients that not only work together but are required to keep it in great shape, function at an optimal capacity, and fight off diseases, including coronary heart disease. 

Additional Information:

(1) Fruit and Vegetable Intake and the Risk for Developing Coronary Heart Disease

(2) Heart Disease Facts and Statistics

(3) The Effect of Fruit and Vegetable Intake on Risk for Coronary Heart Disease