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Availability Of Fruits, Vegetables Results In Lower Levels Of Blood Pressure: Study

Dietary intake of fruits and vegetables is known to be a significant, modifiable risk factor for high blood pressure. Yet, it is unclear how changes in blood pressure have been impacted by the nation’s supply of fruits and vegetables. Dr James Bentham, a senior lecturer in statistics at the University of Kent, and Dr Linda Oude Griep, a colleague at the University of Cambridge, investigated supply trends from 1975 to 2015 to address this issue and determine whether they complied with the WHO’s recommendation of 400g per day. 

The researchers examined associations with systolic, diastolic, and raised blood pressure, using data on fruit and vegetable supply and blood pressure across 159 countries. The results indicated that increased availability of fruit and vegetables resulted in lower levels of raised blood pressure, nationally. 

Their findings also highlighted that many countries, nearly half of those studied within the research, do not have access to enough fruits and vegetables, and this is a particular problem in low-income countries. “Lower income countries that have a reduced availability of fruit and veg, are therefore at risk of higher levels of raised blood pressure,” Dr Bentham said.”

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“In the UK we are currently experiencing fruit and vegetable rationing – and whilst this happens occasionally in this country, limited fruit and vegetable supply because of a lack of logistics is a permanent issue in a lot of parts of the world.”

“Our results underpin the urgent need for national and international policies to expand fruit and vegetable production, in order to ensure sustainable fruit and vegetable supply, especially in low-income countries. This, combined with public health programmes targeting fruit and vegetable consumption at the recommended level, are essential to reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases at national and global levels.” 

Dr Bentham`s latest research into food supply limitations echoes results from an earlier study which characterised changing food supplies – with the aim of informing food policies that would ensure national food security, support access to healthy diets, and enhance environmental sustainability. 

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