For one thing, they’re very low in sodium. Foods high in sodium make the heart work harder. By contrast, a piece of fruit contains about 0 to 5 mg of sodium. That means if you eat four pieces of fruit daily, you ingest only 20 mg of sodium. Vegetables contain about 1 to 70 mg. An average portion of vegetables contains about 10 mg of sodium.
In addition to being low in sodium, which means the heart doesn’t have to work as hard, they are high in potassium, a mineral that plays a key role in heart function and muscle contractions. Potassium works with sodium to regulate the body’s water balance. A diet low in sodium and high in potassium lowers blood pressure, which reduces the risk of stroke. Fruits and vegetables also provide substantial amounts of magnesium and calcium, two minerals essential for heart health and lower blood pressure. Plus, they contain antioxidants, compounds that prevent or repair damage caused to the arteries.