Middle-aged women who consume many fruits and vegetables are at much lower risk of cardiovascular disease

Significant reductions in cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk - by as much as one-half in some cases - can be achieved by consumption of a diet high in fruits and vegetables, according to a study published in the current issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Liu et al. assessed a large group of middle-aged female health professionals for fruit and vegetable intake and subsequently followed them over a 5-year period for instances of CVD. They found that those women who consumed the largest amounts of fruits and vegetables (10 or more servings per day) attained a correspondingly greater reduction in disease risk. When the dietary analysis excluded women with a history of high risk conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and hypercholesterolemia, risk reduction was even more pronounced. Across all of the more elevated levels of fruit and vegetable consumption - anywhere from 4 to 10 servings per day - overall reduction in CVD risk was approximately 20-30%. An editorial accompanying the study suggests that plant foods may be beneficial in human disease not only because of the nutrients they contain, but because of inherent substances that help regulate plant metabolism.

The authors analyzed prospective data from the Women's Health Study of 39,876 middle-aged nurses with no previous history of CVD. In 1993 the participants completed a detailed food-frequency questionnaire and were subsequently followed for an average of 5 years for incidence of nonfatal myocardial infarction, stroke, coronary angioplasty, coronary bypass or death due to CVD. After the researchers divided the participants into groups or levels according to the number of daily servings of fruits and vegetables, a strong inverse association was evident between total fruit and vegetable intake and relative risk of CVD. Those who consumed 10 or more servings per day were at 32% lower risk of CVD than those who consumed one serving. The overall observed CVD risk in those women who ate

Contact: Beth Wettergreen
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

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