Fruit and Vegetable Consumption Cuts Heart Disease Risk.




Arch Intern Med

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In the Western world, heart disease remains the number one cause of death. However, there are differences in the statistics associated with heart disease among the Western countries and cultures. Some of those variances have led researchers to further study the cultures that seem to have better statistics to report in regard to heart disease. Researchers looking at one of these diets, the Mediterranean Diet, stated that information is definitive as to the benefits of healthy eating and lifestyle habits and that these changes can impact heart disease more than even drug therapy.1 It is well known that diet and lifestyle impact our health at all levels and occasionally we need reminders in the form of clinical studies to prompt us to make the changes necessary.
It is hard to ignore the findings of studies that report results taken from tens of thousands of patients. Recently, a study of this magnitude further confirmed the value of fruits and vegetables in our diet. This prospective cohort study used data from the Nurses' Health Study and the Health Professionals' Follow-Up Study to evaluate the association between fruit and vegetable consumption and the risk for coronary heart disease. The study involved 84,251 women aged 34 to 59 and 42,148 men aged 40 to 75 years. The women were followed for 14 years and the men were followed for 8 years. The main measure of outcome was a nonfatal myocardial infarction with all participants free of diagnosed cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes at baseline.
The fruit and vegetable consumption was evaluated using food-frequency questionnaires. Adjustments for standard cardiovascular risk factors were made. Participants with the greatest intake of fruits and vegetables had a relative risk for coronary heart disease of 0.80 compared to those with the lowest intake of fruits and vegetables. Each one serving per day of fruit and vegetable intake had a 4% lower risk for coronary heart disease associated with it. The authors concluded that the "consumption of fruits and vegetables, particularly green leafy vegetables and vitamin C–rich fruits and vegetables, appears to have a protective effect against coronary heart disease."2


1. Barringer TA. Mediterranean diets and cardiovascular disease. Curr Atheroscler Rep. Nov 2001;3(6):437-45.
2. Fung TT. Dietary patterns and the risk of coronary heart disease in women. Arch Intern Med. Aug 2001;161(15):1857-62.