A quarter of Europe's population will be over 65 by 2050
In Europe, ageing is now seen as one of the greatest social and economic challenges of the 21st century, in fact the World Health Organisation forecast the proportion of over 65's will increase from 14% in 2010 to 25% in 2050. While people are clearly living longer, the quality of life in these later years can vary enormously.
Cardiovascular disease a leading cause of death in older age
With cardiovascular disease as one of the leading causes of death in older age around the world, it becoming increasingly important to understand how lifestyle factors can reduce risk and maintain optimal health and how diet and nutrition can help us in our older years.
Diet can prevent the risk of cardiovascular disease
For a number of decades scientific research has focused on how diet can prevent the risk of cardiovascular disease, with fruits and vegetables strongly recommended for a healthy heart. A number of studies have provided evidence of the benefits or a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables and have associated this with a reduction in diseases of the heart including coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease and stroke as well as other chronic conditions. The benefits of these selected food groups can be attributed to their constituents including vitamin C, E, potassium and folate as well as fibre and carotenoids. The latter are found in green leafy vegetables, tomatoes and carrots.
8 daily portions of fruit and vegetables recommended
Attention has also been focused toward polyphenols, these are chemicals found in fruit and vegetables which have an anti-oxidant effect within the body. Due to this fact the American Heart Association recommend eating no less then 8 daily portions of fruit and vegetables.
Higher nut intake lowers bad cholesterol and triglycerides
Due to their nutrient profile and known effects on heart health, nuts were the first whole food to be granted a heart health claim by the US Food and Drug Administration. Nuts are dense in a variety of nutrients, and while high in fat, it is mainly unsaturated fat - in other words healthy fats. Research suggests that higher nut intake lowers bad cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood, intermediate makes of coronary heart disease.
So in summary a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables and nuts can be consumed in order to improve not only life expectancy but also the quality of life in later years.