Coronary heart disease is a major cause of death in women. A new study has found that a diet rich in antioxidants, mainly from fruits and vegetables, can significantly reduce the risk of heart attack.
The study, published in The American Journal of Medicine, was the first to look at the effect of all dietary antioxidants in relation to myocardial infarction.
The study followed 32,561 Swedish women aged 49-83 for 10 years. The women completed a food-frequency questionnaire in which they were asked how often, on average, they consumed each type of food or beverage during the last year. The investigators calculated estimates of total antioxidant capacity. The women were categorized into five groups of total antioxidant capacity of diet.
During the study, 1,114 women suffered a heart attack. Women in the group with the highest total antioxidant capacity had a 20% lower risk. They consumed almost 7 servings per day of fruit and vegetables, nearly 3 times more than the women with the least antioxidant capacity, who averaged 2.4 daily servings.
Trials testing high doses of antioxidant supplements have failed to see any benefit on coronary heart disease. 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 takes into account their synergistic effects.
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