Eight a Day for Better Heart Health

January 24, 2011

2 Min Read
Eight a Day for Better Heart Health

OXFORD, EnglandAdding more fruits and vegetables can help reduce the risk of heart disease, according to a large observational study that found consuming at least eight portions of fruits and vegetables a day reduced ischaemic heart disease (IHD) by 22 percent (Eur Heart J. 2011 Jan 18). Each additional portion was associated with a 4-percent lower risk of fatal IHD.

Researchers, led by Francesca L. Crowe, University of Oxford, assessed the relation between fruit and vegetable intake and risk of mortality from IHD in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)-Heart study. The study included 313,074 men and women without previous myocardial infarction or stroke from eight European countries. After an average of 8.4 years of follow-up, 1,636 subjects died from IHD.

Participants consuming at least eight portions (80 g each) of fruits and vegetables a day had a 22 percent lower risk of fatal IHD compared with those consuming fewer than three portions a day. A one-portion (80 g) increment in fruit and vegetable intake was associated with a 4-percent lower risk of fatal IHD.

Participants consuming the greatest quantity of fruits and vegetables (at least eight servings per day) were slightly older, had a higher body mass index (BMI) and a greater intake of total energy, but had lower systolic and diastolic blood pressures and a lower consumption of alcohol, cereal fiber and saturated fat compared with those consuming fewer than three servings per day. Increasing fruit and vegetable intake was also associated with participants who were never smokers, and those who smoked more than 10 cigarettes per day decreased with higher fruit and vegetable intake.

For both men and women, the mean intake of fruits and vegetables was almost five servings per day, but only three of the eight countries (Greece, Italy and Spain) had a mean intake greater than five servings per day.

The researchers did note it is possible that a higher fruit and vegetable intake is a marker of healthy eating habits or lifestyle variables associated with a lower risk of fatal IHD.

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