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Fruits & Vegetables are Key to Cardiovascular Health!


Your cardiovascular health is dependent upon many factors. Some you can control. Some you can’t. One area that you have absolute control over is the food you eat. As you can see by the title of this article, fruits and vegetables are key foods that will help to reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease. New research and ongoing studies continue to show how the phytochemicals in fruits and vegetables protect your entire cardiovascular system.

30% Decrease in Heart Attack & Stroke!
The respected Harvard-based Nurses’ Health Study has clearly shown the importance of fruits and vegetables to your cardiovascular health. Follow up studies of approximately 110,000 men and women over a 14 year period showed that those who ate 8 or more servings a day of fruits and vegetables were 30 percent less likely to have a heart attack or stroke. The study also showed that for every extra serving of fruits and vegetables above 1.5 per day reduced their risk of heart disease by 4 percent. Nutritionists recommend at least five daily servings of fruits and vegetables. Given the above Nurses’ Health Study, those who would follow this recommendation could easily reduce their risk for heart attack or stroke by 16 percent.

The problem is that most people do not or will not eat 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables let alone 1 or 2 servings. Why?

Time, Expense, Convenience and Taste!
Let’s be honest with each other. It takes time to shop for and prepare the fruits and vegetables you need to improve your cardiovascular health. Produce is not cheap. For this article I went to my local whole foods store to price check the following items:

I’m not to keen on prunes but I love blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries. At $3.99 to $4.99 per pound, to eat five servings would run over $5.00 per day. I also like alfalfa sprouts but at $3.49 per 4 ounces, five servings would represent over $17 per day. It’s a good thing that spinach and plums are only $1.99 per pound.

As you can see, to eat the 5 to 8 servings of fruits and vegetables per day is going to take a good amount of cash plus shopping and preparation time. No wonder so many people don’t make the attempt to improve their cardiovascular health through fruits and vegetables. However, it is possible to make a significant improvement in your cardiovascular health and overall wellness if you stop thinking in conventional terms and start thinking in ORAC values!

ORAC to the Rescue!
No, this is not the robot from the 1951 film The Day the Earth Stood Still. That robot was Gort. Rather, ORAC is an acronym for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity. It is the measure of the antioxidant value of a food to combat free radical damage. Every second your body is being attacked by thousands of free radicals. If these free radicals are left unchecked, then they will damage cells leading to premature aging and degenerative diseases. Antioxidants protect our cells and body from these damaging free radicals. The higher the ORAC value of a food, the greater its ability to protect us from dangerous free radicals.

The United States Department of Agriculture now recommends a diet of fruits and vegetables that will allow you to consume between 3,000 to 5,000 ORAC units per day to maintain an optimal level of antioxidant protection. The following chart will look at the ORAC value of several fruits and vegetables:


ORAC Value*



ORAC Value*

Açai Berry








Spinach, raw





Brussel Sprouts





Alfalfa Sprouts





Spinach, steamed





Broccoli Florets










Red Bell Pepper

















Red Grapes








Peas, frozen





White Potatoes


White Grapes



Sweet Potatoes










String Beans















Yellow Squash


*ORAC value per 100 grams (approximately 3.5 ounces)

Because the quality of fruits and vegetables will change with each testing, you may find other ORAC tables with different values. However, the above chart contains several important keys in helping you protect your body from the damaging effects of free radicals while improving your cardiovascular health. They are:

  1. In general, fruits have greater ORAC values than vegetables. If you used 900 as a cut off value to reduce your number of servings to achieve the recommended 3000 ORAC units, the fruit side has 11 different possibilities while the vegetable side only has 5.
  2. The açai berry from South America has been touted by many sources as the number one super food. As you can see by its ORAC value, it is 3 times greater than the nearest fruit (prunes) and 10 times greater than the nearest vegetable (kale). This means that a small concentrated amount of acai will go a long way in fighting free radicals.
  3. In general, the deeper the pigment of the fruit or vegetable, the higher its ORAC value. Deep pigments indicate a high concentrate of anthocyanins which are powerful antioxidants.
  4. Increasing your consumption of the high ORAC–value fruits and vegetables will allow you to reduce the number of servings per day needed to protect you from free radical damage. For example, I would need to consume 14 servings (3.5 ounces per serving) of apples versus 1.25 servings of blueberries or 2 servings of strawberries to achieve 3,000 ORAC units per day.

Once you understand the power of ORAC you can redesign how you consume your fruits and vegetables to help you improve your cardiovascular health.

Practical Ways to Use the Power of ORAC
I no longer bother to try to get 5 to 8 servings per day of fresh fruits and vegetables for my cardiovascular health. Instead, I use the power of ORAC to fuel my antioxidant program to combat free radicals. Here are some suggestions to help you naturally incorporate high value ORAC fruits and vegetables into your daily routine:

These are some of the techniques I use to help me exceed the recommend 3,000 to 5,000 ORAC units per day. I’ve taken my produce dollars and redirected them into a daily routine that saves me time, calories, and expense while providing a higher antioxidant intake to protect me from free radical damage. It also helps me to reduce the risk for other degenerative diseases while improving my cardiovascular health.

Phytochemicals are the Key!
In Greek, “phyto” means plant. It is the chemicals found in plants that act as powerful antioxidants. Botanists have long understood the importance of these phytochemicals in protecting plants from infections and disease. Biologists are rapidly learning that they are also critical in protecting humans against disease and improving cardiovascular health. In your body these phytochemicals:

In all fruits and vegetables we will find these phytochemicals in different concentrations and forms. Here are the four most common forms that impact cardiovascular health:

Additionally, fruits and vegetables offer another extremely important feature in helping to improve your cardiovascular health.

Low in Sodium – Rich in Heart Minerals!
Your cardiovascular health is also effected by four major minerals: sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium. Sodium is usually the one that gets the greatest attention. The standard recommendation for sodium is between 1,500 and 2,400 milligrams per day. The typical American consumes between 4,000 and 8,000 milligrams per day. This excess sodium causes water retention and disrupts the mineral balance need for optimal muscular contraction of the heart.

Most of the sodium you consume is found in processed foods. Typically, 75 percent of the salt we consume comes from processed foods, 15 percent comes from cooking techniques, and the remaining 10 percent is found naturally in foods. Fruits and vegetables are extremely low in sodium but high in potassium, calcium and magnesium. A piece of fruit has 0 to 5 milligrams of sodium and vegetables have 1 to 70 milligrams per serving. By replacing processed foods with fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables you would be making a huge impact on reducing your sodium intake for improved cardiovascular health.

Potassium plays a critical role in heart function and muscular contractions and works with sodium to regulate your body’s water balance. Because fruits and vegetables are high in potassium and low in sodium they can be a great aid in lowering blood pressure which reduces the risk for heart attacks, kidney failure, and strokes.

Calcium does more than just keep your bones strong and healthy. Calcium and magnesium are necessary for maintaining a normal blood pressure, required for proper nerve transmission, and help to regulate heart muscle function. Numerous studies have shown that when we consume foods that are high in calcium, with adequate magnesium intake, the risk for high blood pressure decreases.

Given the unique design and composition of fruits and vegetables, they are an important tool for improving cardiovascular health. Remember, you are always going to spend money on your health. Money spent on prevention returns greater dividends than money spent on cures. Take the time to rethink your diet by looking at ORAC values so that fruits and vegetables become a primary focus rather than an after thought. Your heart, brain, blood vessels, as well as the rest of the cells of your body will thank you.

Until next time, may we both age youthfully!

Synergistically yours,


P.S.     As a convenience, I’ve also included links to the following Blood Pressure & Cardiovascular Health articles:

Blood Pressure Overview!

7 Natural Steps to Take the Hyper Out of Hypertension!

The Mediterranean Diet Helps More Than Just The Heart!

African Americans, High Blood Pressure and Cardiovascular Health!

Watermelon Can Lower Your High Blood Pressure!

Endothelial Cells, Nitric Oxide & Your Cardiovascular System!

The Dry Beans – Low Incidence of Heart Disease Connections!

5 Major Risk Factors for Heart Disease!

Omega-3 from Fish Reduce the Risks of Repeat Heart Attacks by as Much as 45%!

Cholesterol Levels: Good and Bad – What’s it All Mean?


Return from Cardiovascular Health to Aging No More (Home Page)



The information contained in this website and posted articles are for general information purposes only and never as a substitute for professional medical advice or medical exam. The information contained in this website and posted articles has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease without the supervision of a qualified medical doctor.

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