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Cardiovascular benefits of long-term fruit and vegetable consumption

Consumption of nutrients that are abundant in fruits and vegetablessuch as antioxidants and folic acidhas been linked to a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease (CVD). However, long-term studies focusing on whole-food consumption, as opposed to single micronutrients, are useful because they demonstrate the prolonged and cumulative benefits of a healthy diet. Publishing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Bazzano et al. examined the relationship between fruit and vegetable consumption and the risk of CVD and stroke in a large group of subjects over a period of roughly 2 decades. They found that stroke incidence and mortality, as well as mortality from ischemic heart disease and CVD, were all significantly reduced in those who consumed at least 3 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

The research, part of the first National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES I), involved prolonged follow-up of 9608 adults ages 25-74 who were randomly distributed by sex, race, and sociological group. All subjects were free of CVD at the study's inception between 1971-1975, and follow-up data on dietary intake, disease and mortality were collected in 1982-84, 1986, 1987, and 1992. In determining average daily servings of fruit and vegetables, the researchers used both a 3-month food frequency questionnaire detailing the subjects' usual consumption and a 24-hour dietary recall record. Those who had consumed at least 3 servings per day of fruits and vegetables had a 27% lower incidence of stroke and 42% lower stroke mortality rate among all subjects, and risk of death from ischemic heart disease and CVD was reduced by 24% and 27%, respectively. Men appeared to benefit more than women and whites more than nonwhites from frequent fruit and vegetable consumption with a few exceptions, such as a 53% reduction in stroke mortality for women versus a 23% reduction for men. A 15% reduction in risk from death for all causes was related to the frequen
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Contact: Elizabeth Horowitz
horowitz@ascn.faseb.org
301-530-7038
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
20-Jun-2002


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