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Daily fruit, veggies cuts risk of heart disease death

Eating more fruits and vegetables may reduce your risk of dying from heart disease.

Daily fruit, veggies cuts risk of heart disease death

Eating more fruits and vegetables may reduce your risk of dying from heart disease.

Ischaemic heart disease (IHD) is characterised by reduced blood supply to the heart; people suffering from it can develop angina, chest pains and have a heart attack.

Researchers analysed data from more than 313,074 people from eight European countries, aged 40 to 85 years, who took part in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study and were followed for an average of nearly 8.5 years. Participants answered questions about their diet at the time of entry to the study and other questions about health, socio-economic status and life-style, such as smoking, drinking and exercise habits. 

It was found that there were 1,636 deaths from ischemic heart disease, which is the most common form of heart disease and a leading cause of death in Europe. People with ischemic heart disease have reduced blood flow to the heart, which can cause angina, chest pain and heart attack.

The results showed that people who ate at least eight portions of fruit and vegetables a day were 22 percent less likely to die of ischemic heart disease than those who ate fewer than three portions a day. A portion was considered to be 80 grams, which would equal a small banana, a medium apple or a small carrot. For each additional portion above the lowest intake of two portions, the risk of death from ischemic heart disease was reduced by 4 percent. In other words, the risk of a fatal IHD for someone eating five portions of fruit and vegetables a day would be 4% lower compared to someone consuming four portions a day, and so on up to eight portions or more.

When analysing the data, the researchers made allowances for confounding factors such as differences in lifestyles and eating habits. However, the study could be limited by errors in measuring correctly people's fruit and vegetable intake as well as other aspects of their diet.

The findings suggest that a higher intake of fruits and vegetables is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular mortality. Whether this association is causal and, if so, the biological mechanisms by which fruits and vegetables operate to lower IHD risks remains unclear. However, the authors point out that a higher fruit and vegetable intake occurs among people with other healthy eating habits and lifestyles, and that these factors could also be associated with the lower risk of dying from IHD.
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