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Antioxidants linked to lower heart risks

Women whose diet is higher in total antioxidants less likely to suffer MI

Louise Prime

Monday, 24 September 2012

Women who eat a diet higher in antioxidants are less likely to suffer a myocardial infarction, research has shown. The prospective study, in The American Journal of Medicine, found a dose-response relationship between total intake of dietary antioxidants and risk of MI.

The researchers asked 32,561 women in Sweden to complete a food-frequency questionnaire and from this they estimated the ‘total antioxidant capacity’ of the women’s diets, using a database of the oxygen radical absorption capacity of common foods and drinks. They said that theirs is the first published study to have examined antioxidant intake in this way.

Women were categorised by antioxidant consumption into five groups, and followed for about 10 years. At baseline, they were aged 49-83 years, with no cardiovascular disease. During follow-up, 1114 of them had a myocardial infarction.

Women in the highest quintile for total antioxidant capacity (who ate a daily average of nearly 7 servings of fruit and vegetables) had a 20% lower risk of MI than women with the least antioxidant capacity, who consumed a mean of 2.4 servings.

Fruit, vegetable and wholegrain consumption alone was associated with lower risk of MI, but not significantly so. The association became significant when total antioxidant capacity was considered, even after taking into account other potential risk factors for MI such as age, body mass index, smoking, saturated fatty acid intake, and multivitamin supplement use.

The authors said: “In contrast to supplements of single antioxidants, the dietary total antioxidant capacity reflects all present antioxidants, including thousands of compounds, all of them in doses present in our usual diet, and even takes into account their synergistic effects.”

They conclude: “These data suggest that dietary total antioxidant capacity, based on fruits, vegetables, coffee, and whole grains, is of importance in the prevention of myocardial infarction.”

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