The US National Center for Health Statistics defined chronic disease, also known as non-communicable disease, as any disease that lasts for 3 months or longer. They comprise a cluster of diseases that include diabetes, cancer, stroke, respiratory diseases, and cardiovascular disorders. Chronic diseases kill nearly 40 million people every year, with cancer, diabetes, respiratory disorders, and cardiovascular diseases accounting for about 80% of deaths due to chronic disease. Almost half of American adults are suffering from at least one chronic disease. Sadly the number of people suffering from chronic diseases in the United States is projected to rise to an estimated 157 million by 2020. The good news is that you can protect yourself from many of these killer diseases by consuming a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
A wealth of evidence abounds in several scientific journals on the protective effect of fruits and vegetables against several chronic diseases. A 2013 study showed that daily servings of fruits and vegetables can help improve an individual's chances of avoiding cardiovascular diseases. A team of researchers from the United Kingdom demonstrated in their 2010 study that type 2 diabetes is less likely to occur among habitual consumers of fruits and vegetables compared to those who ate little or no fruits and vegetables. The findings of a British study revealed that the consumption of more than 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day was associated with a significant decrease in stroke risk. Data from a 2007 report from the American Institute of Cancer Research indicate that fruits and vegetables can be beneficial in the prevention of certain types of cancer, including colorectal, stomach, and liver cancers.
Experts believe that most of the nutrients found in fruits and vegetables may be responsible for their protective effects against several diseases. Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and dietary fiber. These nutrients help to prevent the onset of a number of chronic diseases by favorably modulating some of the risk factors associated with these ailments, such as reducing high blood pressure, enhancing insulin sensitivity and decreasing plasma levels of cholesterol, homocysteine, and free radicals.
An estimated 6.7 million deaths worldwide were attributed to low intake of fruits and vegetables in 2010. Chronic diseases were responsible for a large proportion of these deaths. The simple act of filling your plates with fruits and vegetables may make the difference between avoiding a number of chronic diseases or dying from one.