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Diet rich in antioxidants can cut heart attack risk

An “antioxidant-rich diet ‘cuts heart attack risk’,” The Daily Telegraph has reported. It goes on to say that older women who ate “seven fruit and vegetable portions a day were between 20 and 29 per cent less likely to have a heart attack over a decade than those who ate just 2.4 [portions]”.

This news is based on a large study that included more than 30,000 women who were free of heart disease. The researchers asked participants about their diets and looked at whether they had a heart attack over the following 10 years. The researchers also estimated the amount of antioxidants in the women’s diets and whether this was associated with their risk of having a heart attack.

They found that women who had the highest levels of antioxidants in their diets (those who ate six or more portions of fresh fruit and vegetables a day) were 20% less likely to suffer a heart attack over 10 years compared with women who ate the lowest levels.

Sadly, for those of us looking for a quick fix, previous research has failed to find a similar preventative effect in people taking vitamins and supplements rather than eating a healthy balanced diet. The researchers speculate that it is not the amount of antioxidants consumed that is important but the range of different food sources from which the antioxidants come that helps protect health.

This study does not conclusively prove that the antioxidants in fruit, vegetables and wholegrains are good for you. It simply confirms that eating plenty of fruit and vegetables makes you less likely to die from a heart attack.

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