Individuals with high fruit and vegetable intake have a 15% lower risk of developing heart disease and a 20% lower risk of early death when compared to those who rarely eat fruit and vegetables, according to research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Researchers state this reduced risk of heart disease and early death for regular fruit and vegetable consumers is related to a high concentration of vitamin C in the blood.
The role of vitamin C in heart disease
- Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant enhancing the body’s response to free radicals and protecting the arteries from oxidative damage.
- Vitamin C enables collagen synthesis in arterial wall connective tissue, strengthening blood vessel walls. Weakened collagen makes it easier for oxidized LDL and the inflammatory process to gain a foothold and plaque formation to begin.
- Vitamin C increases nitric oxide levels. Nitric oxide is a vasodilator increasing the arteries ability to widen and reduce blood pressure.
Vitamin C also…
- Aides in wound healing
- Boosts the immune system by increasing white blood cells and interferons
- Slows gum disease
- Aids carnitine synthesis
- Reduces leukotrienes production (a factor in allergic reactions)
- Increases fertility
- Aids regeneration of vitamin E
- Enhances iron absorption
- Plays a role in serotonin production (a neurotransmitter impacting mood and appetite)
- Reduces incidence of cataracts
- Acts as a diuretic
- Decreases bruising
Vitamin C in your diet
The body cannot make vitamin C, which means you must consume vitamin C in either foods or supplements. I encourage you to increase your intake of fruit and vegetables to boost your vitamin C intake daily.
Some foods rich in vitamin C include red sweet peppers, turnip greens, broccoli, red cabbage, strawberries, spinach, oranges, mangos, cantaloupes, and raspberries.
Causes of vitamin C deficiency
Be especially aware if you have any of the following conditions or take any of the following medications. They promote vitamin C deficiency:
- Sulfa drugs
- High fever
- High blood pressure
- Diabetes mellitus
- Birth control pills
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, which means it leaves the body quickly. You should consume foods rich in vitamin C throughout the day.