BACKGROUND: The World Health Organization recommends consumption of a minimum of 400 g of fruits and vegetables per day for prevention of cardiovascular disease. Low fruit and vegetable intake is associated with an increased risk of stroke by 11% and ischemic heart disease by 31%. The present study aims to explore factors affecting the fruit and vegetable intake in Nepal and its association with history of self-reported major cardiovascular events (myocardial infarction and stroke).
METHOD: Data for this cross-sectional study were collected as part of the study "Community Based Management of Hypertension in Nepal" initiated in the Lekhnath Municipality in 2013. Demographic and nutrition information were collected using the WHO STEPwise approach to a surveillance tool. Descriptive statistics identified the frequency and percentage of fruit and vegetable intake. A Chi-square test examined the association between fruit and vegetable intake and history of self-reported cardiovascular events, socio-demographic and cardiovascular risk factors. Binary logistic regression analysis identified odds ratio with 95% confidence intervals between fruit and vegetable intake and history of self-reported cardiovascular events.
RESULTS: The mean and median intake of fruits and vegetables were 3.3 ± 0.79 and 3 servings respectively. Of the 2815 respondents, 2% (59) reported having a history of major cardiovascular events. The adjusted odds of having a history of major cardiovascular events was 2.22 (95%CI, 1.06-4.66) for those who consumed < 3 servings compared to those who consumed ≥3 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
CONCLUSION: The respondents who consumed < 3 servings of fruits and vegetables a day had higher odds of a history of major cardiovascular events in comparison to those who consumed ≥3 servings. This finding may carry a policy recommendation for those settings where the current recommendation of having ≥5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day is not possible. Our findings also suggest that surviving a major cardiovascular event was not enough in itself to modify nutritional intake. As many Nepali consumes low amount of fruits and vegetables, appropriate measures should be taken to increase this consumption to prevent cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.