Meta-analysis finds fruit, vegetable intake linked with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease
The results of meta-analysis of nine studies involving 221,080 individuals, published in the October, 2006 issue of the Journal of Nutrition found that the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) declined with increased consumption of vegetables and fruit.
Researchers in France sought to evaluate the strength of observational studies that found a reduced risk of coronary heart disease associated with fruit and vegetable intake by conducting a meta-analysis of nine eligible studies. The studies selected included 91,379 men, 129,701 women and 5,007 coronary heart disease events occurring over a 5 to 19 year period. Six studies reported an association between fruit and vegetable intake and coronary heart disease risk, six reported data for fruit intake and heart disease, and seven reported on the association between vegetable intake and heart disease risk.
The review found a 4 percent decrease in the risk of fatal and nonfatal heart attack, coronary death and incident coronary heart disease for each additional fruit or vegetable portion consumed per day. When fruit alone was examined, the risk reduction increased to 7 percent. Greater vegetable intake was linked with a 5 percent reduction in coronary events, however there was a 26 percent reduction in coronary deaths with each additional portion of vegetables consumed per day.
Although the healthier lifestyle that is more prevalent among consumers of fruit and vegetables may be responsible for the effects observed in the meta-analysis, the authors conclude that “this analysis presents evidence of a beneficial association between fruit and vegetable consumption and CHD risk, supporting the recommendation to eat a sufficient amount of fruit and vegetables to lower CHD risk.”
Atherosclerosis is a far-reaching disease with devastating consequences. Life Extension’s program for reducing the risk associated with atherosclerosis is based on aggressive measures to promote a healthy endothelium and reduce risk factors associated with coronary artery disease. Because all adults are at risk of atherosclerosis, they should make the necessary lifestyle changes to protect their arteries. This means getting adequate exercise under the supervision of a physician and eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low in saturated fat. Also, weight loss by obese and overweight adults is an important element in reducing risk of atherosclerosis.
People who have risk factors for atherosclerosis should take measures to modify them. Risk factors include diabetes, high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol, obesity, elevated homocysteine, elevated risk of blood clots, and a pro-inflammatory state. The ideal nutritional approach to atherosclerosis takes into consideration all existing risk factors and attempts to modify each one.
Blood testing is a very important part of any risk-reduction program for coronary heart disease. Healthy adults should have their blood tested at least once a year. People who have heart disease or multiple risk factors should have their blood tested twice a year to monitor their progress. A comprehensive blood test will measure levels of blood lipids, C-reactive protein, homocysteine, fibrinogen, and other blood markers. Regular blood pressure monitoring is also important.
Public service campaigns are encouraging people to eat more fruits and vegetables to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Despite years of media publicity, 85 percent of Americans are not even eating the minimum recommendation of five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Those who do report eating some produce often fail to consume the yellow and purple colored plants that are critical components of such a program.
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