CVD and intake of fruits and vegetables.




Am J Clin Nutr

Related Monographs

Consumer Data: Cardiovascular Disease
Professional Data: Cardiovascular Disease


Diseases of the heart and circulation are so common and the public is so well acquainted with the major symptoms that result from cardiovascular disorders that patients, and occasionally physicians, wrongly attribute many unrelated complaints to cardiovascular disease (CVD). It should not be a surprise that this occurs since most patients are aware that cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States. There are four principle properties of the cardiovascular system that can be evaluated to provide information to help manage cardiovascular disease. These include: movement of electrical signals through the heart, heart pump function, blood flow through the heart, and anatomy.

There are many risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Three that cannot be changed are older age, male gender, and a family history of CVD. Additionally, three other major risk factors include cigarette smoking, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Other identified factors associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease include lack of exercise, diabetes, obesity, too much alcohol, increased homocysteine levels, certain infections and inflammation, estrogens, androgens, and certain psychosocial factors. The combination of multiple risk factors must also be considered.

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined the association between fruit and vegetable consumption and the relative risk of cardiovascular disease. Participants included 9,608 adults aged 25 to 74 years who were free from CVD at the beginning of this study. Using a food frequency questionnaire, dietary assessments were measured at baseline. After an average of 19 years, 888 cases of strokes, 1,786 cases of ischemic heart disease, and 1,145 CVD deaths were recorded. When compared to those who had one serving of fruits or vegetables daily, the results showed that consuming 3 or more fruits or vegetables daily was linked to a 27% decrease in stroke risk, 42% decrease in stroke deaths, 24% decrease in ischemic heart disease deaths, and a 27% decrease in CVD deaths. The authors concluded that this study "showed an inverse association of fruit and vegetable intake with the risk of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality in the general US population."1


1. Bazzano, Lydia A. Fruit and vegetable intake and risk of cardiovascular disease in US adults: the first National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey Epidemiologic Follow-up Study. Am J Clin Nutr 2002;76:93-9.