The purpose of this report is to analyse the role of fruits and vegetables in the prevention of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Recent studies have indicated strong relationship between fruit and vegetable consumptions and reduced risk of certain cancers and cardiovascular disease.
A diet high in vegetables and fruits is believed to be associated with reducing the risk of cancer of the mouth, oesophagus, stomach, lung, colon, rectum and some other cancers.
However there is no specific reason or evidence to clarify the mechanism and also the results of various researches in the roles of fruit and vegetables do not all agree.
Nutritionists recommend the consumption of a minimum of 400g of fruit and vegetables per day (except for potatoes and other starchy tubers) for the prevention of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity, in addition to the prevention and reduction of several micronutrient deficiencies, especially in less developed countries.
A number of scientific evidences have implied low fruit and vegetable intake is a major risk factor for several non-communicable diseases.
Increasing fruit and vegetable intake by as little as one serving per day can have a great influence on heart disease risk.
Cardiovascular disease is related to diseases of the heart and diseases of the blood vessel system (arteries, capillaries, veins) within a person’s entire body, such as the brain, legs, and lungs. “Cardio” refers to the heart and “vascular” refers to the blood vessel system.
Fruits and vegetable intake and its association with the risk of cardiovascular disease
According to many studies, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. So it is crucial to control its condition. Diet can be a very important factor for lowering blood pressure. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension study indicated that there is a compelling relationship between diet and blood pressure (cited in Harvard School of Public Health 2005).
This trial analysed the influence on blood pressure of a diet that was significant in fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products and that inhibiting the extent of saturated and total fat.The researchers discovered that people with high blood pressure who adhered to this diet, their systolic blood pressure (the upper number of a blood pressure reading) by about 11 mm Hg and their diastolic blood pressure (the lower number) by virtually 6 mm Hg – as much as medications can effect.Furthermore, eating more fruits and vegetables can have a great effect on cholesterol.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s Family Heart Study shows that men and women with the highest daily consumption (more than 4 servings a day) have a lower extent of LDL; low density lipoprotein (bad) cholesterol than those with lower consumption.
Human body is composed of millions of tiny cells. Most of the cells divide and multiply occasionally; when an old cell is worn out or damaged, a new cell is formed to replace it.
Each cell contains genes (made from the DNA).The proteins inside the gene control when the cell is to divide and multiply. If the gene is damaged or modified (probably as a result of making too much or too little protein) the cell becomes abnormal.The abnormal cell can then divide and multiply without knowing the certain time to stop.A tumour is developed when a group of abnormal cells clump together.
There are two types of tumour: benign and malignant. Benign tumours are not carcenogenic and won’t attack or spread to other parts of the body.Malignant tumours are the real cancers. They can grow very fast, attack the adjacent tissues and organs which can result in serious damage. They may even spread to other parts of the body and cause secondary tumours (metastases).
te solid tumours- cancers of the blood, such as leukaemia, develop from abnormal blood cells, which then invade other parts of the body by circulating in the bloodstream.
Generally there are about 200 various types of cancer. Some of them are more dangerous than others, some are more readily treated, and others have better survival figures.Unfortunately, many people will be influenced by cancer at some point in lives. If they are diagnosed with cancer, the doctors require to identify what type of cancer they have and if it has spread, so that they can decide on the best period of treatment
Eat more fruits and vegetables – can offer an extensive range of vitamins and minerals and fibres required for body. Fruits and vegetables may prevent the risk of cancer probably due to containing anti-oxidant vitamins and minerals helping prevent the cells damage.
Eat more Fiber – is widely present in fruits an vegetables and wholemeal cereals. Some studies approve 20g per day consumption while some others don’t.
Reduce eating fat – The cancer Research UK (2003) discussed that greater fat intake can be related to slight increase of breast cancer. The study has also linked saturated fat and meat intake with slight but considerable increase of the risk.following low consumption, it is most recommended to eat mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fats found in vegetables rather than saturated fats.
Cut down on sugar – There is no direct connection between sugar containing foods and breast cancer. However, excessive sugar intake may lead to putting on weight or sometimes contributing to obesity in which case there are some studies suggesting the link between obesity and breast cancer.
Cut down on salt – High salt consumption can result in high blood pressure.
Specific fruits and vegetables
Many researches imply specific fruits and vegetables may protect against certain types of cancer.
Fruits and vegetables contain a number of chemicals, such as the dithiolthiones and glucosinolates from cruciferous vegetables, which are believed to inhibit the growth of cancer cells and cancer occurrence in animals (Warren & Devine 2005).
The Harvard School of Public Health (2005) outlines the following categories of fruits and vegetables offering the most contribution against cardiovascular diseases:
Green leafy vegetables including lettuce, spinach, swiss chard and mustard greens, Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts.
Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit (and their juices) are said to be the most contributing factors against cardiovascular diseases.
It has been reported that broccoli and brussel sprouts and spinach are able to reduce the possibility of breast cancers. This hasn’t been statistically considerable, so reducing the reliability on the results (Warren & Devine 2005).
However a number of recently case-control studies have demonstrated inhibiting effect of carrots and spinach as well as species of broccoli (cruciferous) family against breast cancers. Some of these studies have also identified substantial effect of quantity consumed (eating more vegetables result in greater reductions in risk).
Furthermore, there is poor evidence that raw vegetables are likely to be more protective against the progression of breast and other cancers than cooked vegetables. This is probably due to some of the potentially protective chemicals present in vegetables which are damaged by heat process (Warren & Devine 2005)