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Veggies that Protect Your Health—and Refined Ones that Don’t

Veggies that Protect Your Health—and Refined Ones that Don’t

What you eat directly influences your risk of cardiovascular disease-related death.

What do Forrest Whitaker, Bill Clinton and Carrie Underwood have in common? They’re all vegetarians. And if they dodge French fries and hushpuppies, their adopted diets give them a younger RealAge and help them avoid fatal heart disease.

The amazing powers of veggies can help you, too—even if, like Clinton, you have advanced cardiovascular issues before you go for the greens. Harvard researchers announced preliminary findings on data from more than 73,000 women and men enrolled in two major epidemiological studies. They found that an increase in the number of healthy veggies and fruits you eat directly influences how protected you are from cardio-related death.

Over a 12-year period, they found the risk of death was 10 percent lower in folks who increased their veggie intake the most: That meant replacing one daily serving of refined grains with whole grains, increasing fruit intake by one daily serving and vegetable intake by one daily serving and decreasing sugary beverage intake by one serving a day.

However, it’s important to know that folks who upped their daily vegetable intake with nutrient-lacking processed carbs (fries, pastas made with refined, white grain, white rice) ended up with a six percent higher risk of cardiovascular disease-related death than they had to begin with. It’s better to eat such starches cold the next morning–that way, when you digest them, they act more like fiber than sugar.

So, aim for seven to nine servings of vegetables and fruits with at least two servings of 100 percent whole grains daily—and you’ll be heart-healthier tomorrow.

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