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A new study has reported on the link between eating fruit and vegetables and risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer.

We all know that eating a balanced diet including plenty of fruit and vegetables is good for us. A new study has reviewed the current available data and performed a meta-analysis, combining results from previous studies. Their goal was to determine the effects of increasing fruit and vegetable intake on reducing the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer, which are currently the two leading causes of death worldwide.

Due to the inconsistent results seen in the past, this study aimed to quantify the dose response effect of increased fruit and vegetable intake on the risk of death from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Included in the analysis were studies conducted between 1950-2013 that reported on the effects of fruit and vegetable intake on death from all causes, cardiovascular disease, or cancer. In all, sixteen articles were included in the analysis, with a total of 833 234 participants. Of these participants, 56 423 deaths were reported from all causes, 11 512 deaths from cardiovascular disease, and 16 817 deaths from cancer. The report summarizes the results as follows:

Fruit and Vegetable Intake and Risk of Death from All Causes:

Risk of death from all causes was reduced dose-dependently with increasing intake of fruit and vegetables. The dose effect was seen when intake of fruit and vegetables was at or below five servings per day. However, risk of death from all causes was not further reduced with an intake of greater than five servings per day. Interestingly, when assessing either fruit intake alone, or vegetable intake alone, a reduced risk of death was observed with an intake of either two daily servings of fruit, or three daily servings of vegetables.

Fruit & Vegetable Intake and Risk Death from Cardiovascular Disease:

When assessing the risk of death from cardiovascular disease alone, the study reported an average risk reduction of 4% with each additional daily serving of fruit and vegetables. A risk reduction of 5% was seen for fruit alone, and 4% for vegetables alone.

Fruit & Vegetable Intake and Risk of Death from Cancer:

The analysis revealed that increasing fruit and vegetable intake did not significantly reduce the risk of death from cancer.

The authors concluded that the study supports previous studies demonstrating that increasing fruit and vegetable intake can reduce the risk of death from all causes, in particular death from cardiovascular disease.

Studies Currently Recruiting Participants:

Researchers are currently recruiting participants to determine the effects of apple derived flavonols on risk of cardiovascular disease is the FLAVASCULAR study, being conducted by the Institute of Food Research, Norfolk, UK. The basis of this study is the thought that the protective effect of fruits on cardiovascular health may be attributed to the flavonols within these foods. Found in greater concentrations in apples, berries, dark chocolate, tea, and wine, these flavonols have been linked with beneficial effects on cardiovascular risk factors, such as blood pressure. This study will aim to determine the beneficial cardiovascular effects in participants who will receive dietary supplements of apple-derived flavonols.

Another study currently recruiting participants is being conducted at the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada. The basis of this study is that purple coloured vegetables contain higher levels of polyphenols, conferring greater antioxidant activity, compared to lighter coloured vegetables. Participants in this study will consume 200-300g of dark coloured potatoes or carrots for 12 weeks, after which the availability of polyphenols in the blood will be measured, and risk factors for cardiovascular disease will be assessed.

 

Wang, X, Ouyang, Y, Liu, J, Zhu, M, Zhao, G, Bao, W, Hu, FB.Fruit and vegetable consumption and mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer: systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies” BMJ 2014;349:g4490.

Clinicaltrials.gov “The Effects of Apple Derived Flavanols on Cardiovascular Disease Risk (FLAVASCULAR Study)” Available from: http://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02013856?term=fruit+AND+cardiovascular+disease&recr=Open&no_unk=Y&rank=2 Last Accessed: August 20, 2014.

Clinicaltrials.gov “Effects of Purple Vegetables on Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) Risk Factors” Available from: http://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01564498?term=vegetables+AND+cardiovascular+disease&recr=Open&no_unk=Y&rank=1 Last Accessed: August 20, 2014.

Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

Written by Deborah Tallarigo, PhD

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