Nutritional Supplement: Fruits and Veggies for American Health

Improve your fiber intake and reduce your blood pressure by eating more fresh produce.

| November/December 1997

Fruits, veggies quickly lower blood pressure

A diet high in vegetables, fruits, and low-fat dairy foods can “significantly and quickly” lower blood pressure, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

In an eight-week nationwide trial of a diet known as DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), NIH researchers found that people could reduce their blood pressure by changing their diets—but without following a weight-reduction plan or modifying alcohol or sodium intake. The study involved 459 adults with a systolic blood pressure of less than 160 and a diastolic pressure of between 80 and 95 (a normal range for adults is 110/80 to 140/90). Those who ate eight to ten daily servings of fruits and vegetables and two to three daily servings of low-fat dairy foods (twice the average amount most Americans eat) showed the largest reductions in blood pressure, and the reductions occurred quickly—within two weeks of starting the diet. On average, systolic blood pressure dropped by 5.5 points and diastolic by 3 points. The reductions occurred in both men and women and in all ethnic groups.

The researchers estimate that if Americans followed the DASH diet, coronary heart disease cases would drop 15 percent and strokes 27 percent. (1)

What’s in a Serving?
One serving of vegetables:
• 1 cup raw leafy vegetables
• 1 half-cup other cooked or
chopped vegetables
• 1 medium potato or carrot
• 3/4 cup vegetable juice

One serving of fruit:
• 1 apple, banana, kiwi,
orange, peach, or pear
• 2 figs or plums
• 3 to 4 apricots or prunes
• 1/2 grapefruit
• 1/2 cup cantaloupe,
pineapple, or strawberries
• 3/4 cup fruit juice

Teens, adults may miss out on benefits of fiber

Teens and adults living in the United States eat less fiber than health experts recommend and may be missing out on valuable health benefits, according to two recent reports.

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