Fruits and vegetables are known to be beneficial for overall health, but not everyone consumes them with the same passion or rhythm. A recent study found that, instead, the situation changes if they are simply offered for free through special programs.
Fruits and vegetables, vital for health
People with diabetes, hypertension and obesity can improve their health if they receive prescriptions from doctors and other nutritionists to consume.
A recent study led by Kurt Hager, instructor of epidemiology at UMass Chan Medical School, and Fang Fang Zhang, professor of epidemiology at Tufts University, showed that blood glucose levels, blood pressure and weight changed for the better after a regular consumption of fruits and vegetables.
The authors of the study published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes analyzed the clinical results of experiments done on volunteers, finding a major impact on their general health.
“For example, systolic blood pressure – or blood pressure during heartbeats – dropped by more than 8 millimeters of mercury, or mm Hg, while diastolic blood pressure – or blood pressure between heartbeats – dropped by nearly 5 mm Hg .
For context, it should be stated that this is almost half of the blood pressure reductions recorded with the help of drugs,” wrote the authors of the study, according to sciencealert.com.
What the researchers found, the connection with the income of the patients
Many health care facilities in the US have experimented with “food is medicine” programs, where healthy food is provided to patients, sometimes for a year or more.
This is the most extensive data analysis of the results generated by these programs. Patients with food-related illnesses were given free apples, broccoli, berries, cucumbers, and other types of fruits and vegetables.
In Los Angeles, Boise, Houston, Minneapolis and other localities where these programs have been studied, participants chose their produce according to their preferences at grocery stores or farmers markets using electronic cards or vouchers. Typically, each received about $65 per month for these expenses for 10 months.
The researchers then collected data from 22 locations where this type of program had been implemented, none of which had been evaluated to that point. All 4,000 participants had or were at risk for cardiometabolic problems and were recruited from clinics serving low-income neighborhoods.
People in these programs ate more fruits and vegetables. They also reported a one-third reduction in their fear of going hungry.
More than 300,000 Americans die each year from cardiovascular disease and diabetes caused by unhealthy eating habits.
Also, people in the approximately 13.5 million American households living with tomorrow’s food insecurity are more likely than others to develop type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease. In addition, they have a shorter life expectancy and higher medical costs.
Most Americans, regardless of income, do not eat a healthy diet. However, researchers have shown that those with lower incomes tend to consume food that is more dangerous to their health than those who can afford to spend more.