AUSVEG is encouraging all Australians to increase their daily intake of vegetables, following confronting findings released yesterday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) that nine in 10 Australians with high cholesterol levels are simply unaware of their condition.

Eleven thousand Australians were surveyed as part of the ABS study, which involved the collection of blood and urine tests to paint an accurate picture of the nation’s health.

“The fact that a great number of Australians are unknowingly walking around with high cholesterol is concerning, however, it should serve as a reminder that a healthy diet of fresh produce can aid in improving cardiovascular health,” said AUSVEG spokesperson, Michael Bodnarcuk.

AUSVEG is the leading voice in horticulture representing Australia’s 9,000 vegetable and potato growers.

“A high intake of both fruit and vegetables can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, the leading cause of death in Australia.”

“This statement is one of a number of health claims approved by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) which can now be used on the packaging of vegetables, thanks to research conducted on behalf of Australian growers,” said Mr Bodnarcuk.

These findings have resulted from a research and development project called Communicating the Health Benefits of Australian Vegetables, conducted jointly by Plant and Food Research Australia and MacTavish West and funded by Horticulture Australia Limited (HAL) using the National Vegetable Levy and matched funds from the Australian Government.

“Research has also demonstrated that the consumption of fruit and vegetables has been associated with lower concentrations of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or ‘bad’ cholesterol,” said Mr Bodnarcuk.

Elevated levels of LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream can increase the risk of cardiovascular complications such as heart disease and stroke.

A 2004 peer-reviewed study of 4466 people in the US found that consumption of beans, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots and other fruit and vegetables could lower LDL levels in the bloodstream. 

“In this particular study, subjects that had the highest intake of fruit and vegetables had LDL concentrations 6 to 7 per cent lower than those with the lowest intake,” said Mr Bodnarcuk.

Increasing the consumption of vegetables high in a pigment called lycopene, such as capsicum, may also reduce the risk of many types of cancer.

“With only one in 20 Australians eating the recommended two and five servings of fruit and vegetables, today is the perfect time to make small dietary changes that could greatly impact longevity and overall health of many Australians,” said Mr Bodnarcuk.


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