What do Forrest Whitaker, Bill Clinton, and Carrie Underwood have in common? They're all vegetarians.
That means if they stay away from French fries and hush puppies, their adopted diets can help them avoid fatal heart disease.
The amazing powers of veggies can help you too. Even if, like Clinton, you had advanced cardiovascular issues before going for the greens.
Harvard researchers recently announced preliminary findings on data from more than 73,000 women and men enrolled in two major epidemiological studies. They found that an increase in the amount of healthy veggies and fruits you eat directly influences how protected you are from cardio-related death.
Over a 12-year period, they found the risk of death was 10 percent lower for people who increased their veggie intake the most.
That meant replacing one daily serving of refined grains with whole grains, increasing both fruit and vegetable intake by one daily serving, and decreasing sugary beverage intake by one serving a day.
But, they warn, those who upped their daily vegetable intake with nutrient-lacking, processed carbs (fries; pastas made with refined, white grain; white rice) ended up with a 6 percent higher risk of heart disease-related death than they had to begin with.
Better to eat such starches cold the next morning. That way, when you digest them they act more like fiber than sugar.
So aim for seven to nine servings of vegetables and fruits with at least two servings of 100 percent whole grains daily. You'll be heart-healthier tomorrow.
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