Millions of people worldwide suffer from high blood pressure and are therefore at increased risk of dangerous cardiovascular diseases. Non-drug measures are an important pillar in the treatment and prevention of high blood pressure. Certain foods can help.
Eating fruit and vegetables regularly can significantly reduce the risk of high blood pressure (hypertension) and cardiovascular diseases, reports the South Tyrolean Consumer Center in a recent press release. These foods contain the mineral potassium, which is involved in the regulation of blood pressure, as well as phytochemicals, including flavonoids and sulfides, which tests have shown to have a blood pressure-lowering effect.
Five servings daily
As early as 1990, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended consuming five servings (at least 400 grams) of fresh fruit and vegetables a day. The German Society for Nutrition (DGE) currently advises adults to eat 400 grams of vegetables and 250 grams of fruit every day.
Data from 159 countries
A few months ago, researchers from Great Britain examined data from 1975 to 2015 on the supply of fruit and vegetables and the occurrence of high blood pressure in 159 countries and compared them with the WHO’s consumption recommendations.
The study, which was published in the specialist journal “BMJ – Nutrition, Prevention & Health”, showed that the supply of fruit increased on average worldwide by one portion per capita per day and the supply of vegetables by almost three servings per capita per day has improved – albeit with large differences between individual countries and regions.
In the opinion of the authors, the supply of fruit and vegetables was only sufficiently high in half of the countries examined to achieve the consumption recommendations of the WHO on average.
In low-income countries in South Asia and Africa, as well as in Eastern Europe, the supply of fruit and vegetables was significantly worse than in richer countries. The reasons for this are the comparatively high costs of fresh fruit and vegetables, but also higher losses through spoilage along the supply chain.
Increasing the supply of fruit and vegetables
“The study also showed that fewer people suffered from high blood pressure when more fruit and vegetables were available in a country,” explains Silke Raffeiner, the nutritional expert at the South Tyrol consumer advice center.
“On the other hand, in countries with an insufficient supply of fruit and vegetables, there was a higher risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases.”
According to the researchers, measures to increase the supply of fruit and vegetables should therefore be implemented in low-income countries in particular in order to prevent the development of cardiovascular diseases.
One way to do this could be through tax incentives. Experts and consumer protection organizations have called for the abolition of VAT on fruit and vegetables in the past. (ad)