Heart attack risk lower among women with high anthocyanin intake
Friday, January 18, 2013. The January 15, 2013 issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association reported the finding of a decrease in the risk of myocardial infarction in women with a high intake of anthocyanins—flavonoids that occur in significant amounts in such plant foods as blueberries and strawberries. "We have shown that even at an early age, eating more of these fruits may reduce risk of a heart attack later in life," remarked lead author Aedín Cassidy, PhD, who heads the Department of Nutrition at Norwich Medical School of the University of East Anglia in England.
The study included 93,600 women between the ages of 25 to 42 upon enrollment in the Nurses' Health Study II in 1989. Dietary questionnaires completed every four years beginning in 1991 provided information on the intake of anthocyanins, which include cyanidin, delphinidin, malvidin, pelargonidin, petunidin and peonidin. The participants were followed for 18 years, during which 405 heart attacks occurred.
Anthocyanin intake ranged from 2 to 35 milligrams per day. Among women whose intake of anthocyanins was among the top one-fifth of subjects, there was a 32 percent lower risk of heart attack in comparison with those whose intake was among the lowest fifth, and when those in the top one-tenth were compared with the lowest tenth, the risk was 47 percent lower. For each 15 milligram daily increase in anthocyanin intake, myocardial infarction risk was lowered by 17 percent.
When the researchers analyzed the intake of dietary sources of anthocyanin (blueberries and strawberries), participants who consumed at least three servings per week had a 34 percent lower heart attack risk compared to those who seldom consumed them. Onions consumed at least five times per week were also protective.
"Our findings suggest that bioactive compounds present in red and blue fruits and vegetables commonly consumed in the habitual diet may be associated with a reduced risk of myocardial infarction in young and middle-aged women," the authors conclude. " Further prospective studies, including studies with biomarkers of coronary heart disease risk to elucidate mechanisms, are needed to confirm these associations. Randomized trials focusing on commonly consumed anthocyanin-rich foods are also needed to examine dose-response effects and to be of long-enough duration to assess clinically relevant end points."
"Blueberries and strawberries can easily be incorporated into what women eat every week," noted senior author Eric Rimm, ScD, who is an Associate Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health. "This simple dietary change could have a significant impact on prevention efforts."
In an article published online on January 4, 2013 in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers from the University of Connecticut report an association between improved dietary antioxidant capacity and reductions in plasma homocysteine and C-reactive protein (CRP), both of which are markers of increased cardiovascular disease risk.
The study included 4,391 men and women who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001-2002. Questionnaire responses concerning diet and supplement use over a 24 hour period were analyzed to provide the antioxidant capacities of 43 nutrients. (The antioxidant capacity of 30 flavonoids was determined from food sources only.) Blood samples were analyzed for serum levels of alpha and gamma tocopherols, six carotenoids and CRP, and plasma total homocysteine.
Total antioxidant capacity (TAC) was correlated with serum vitamin E and carotenoid levels. As TAC rose, the risk of having a total homocysteine level of greater than 13 micromoles per liter decreased. Those whose intake of antioxidants was among the top 25 percent of participants had more than double the chance of having a homocysteine level under 13 micromoles per liter in comparison with those whose TAC was among the lowest fourth. A reduction in the risk of having a CRP level of 3 milligrams per liter or higher was also observed in association with increasing TAC. A significant decline in homocysteine and CRP was observed in association with higher TAC from diet combined with supplements or supplements alone, but not with diet alone.
"Dietary TAC was associated with improved serum antioxidant status and decreased risk factors of cardiovascular disease including serum CRP and plasma total homocysteine concentrations," the authors conclude. "The implicated applicability of dietary TAC needs further validation in prospective cohort studies."
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