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WASHINGTON, June 10: Inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption may account for millions of deaths from heart disease and strokes each year across the globe, a study has found.

The study estimated that roughly one in seven cardiovascular deaths could be attributed to not eating enough fruit and one in 12 cardiovascular deaths could be attributed to not eating enough vegetables.

Low fruit intake resulted in nearly 1.8 million cardiovascular deaths in 2010, while low vegetable intake resulted in one million deaths, researchers said.

Overall, the toll of suboptimal fruit intake was almost double that of vegetables. The impacts were most acute in countries with the lowest average intakes of fruits and vegetables.

“Fruits and vegetables are a modifiable component of diet that can impact preventable deaths globally,” said Victoria Miller, a postdoctoral researcher at Tufts University in the US.

“Our findings indicate the need for population-based efforts to increase fruit and vegetable consumption throughout the world,” Miller said.

Fruits and vegetables are good sources of fibre, potassium, magnesium, antioxidants and phenolics, which have been shown to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol.

Fresh fruits and vegetables also improve the health and diversity of good bacteria in the digestive tract. People who eat more of these foods also are less likely to be overweight or obese, lowering their risk of cardiovascular disease.

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