Globally, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer are the leading causes of disability and death in older age. With the increase in average life expectancy, it is important to understand how lifestyle factors can help to reduce our risk of chronic disease and maintain optimal health. So, what changes to our diet and nutrition can help to improve our life expectancy?
The ageing population
In Europe, ageing is one of the greatest social and economic challenges of the 21st century. The World Health Organisation (WHO) forecasts that the proportion of people aged 65 and older will increase from 14% in 2010 to 25% in 2050, with a particularly rapid increase in numbers of over-80s. People are generally living longer, but quality of life in later years can vary greatly. (1). Regardless of their socioeconomic group, health in old age should be improved to reduce the risk of social isolation and poverty.
Fruit and vegetables for health
In recent decades, scientific researchers have looked to the diet in order to prevent the risk of CVD and cancer. Fruits and vegetables have been strongly suggested as the key components to maintain a healthy heart. An increasing number of scientific studies have provided evidence that consumption of a diet rich in selected foods such as fresh fruit and vegetables, is associated with a lower incidence of heart diseases including coronary heart disease (CHD) and CVD, stroke, cancer, and other chronic diseases. The reported beneficial effects of fruit and vegetables on heart health may be attributed to many of their constituents, including vitamin C and E, potassium and folate. Other components such as dietary fibres and carotenoids (found in green leafy vegetables, tomatoes and carrots) are recommended as some of the best candidates for a healthy heart.