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Eating Beans, Vegetables May Cut Risk of Coronary Heart Disease

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By David Liu, PH.D.

Friday Sept 23, 2011 (foodconsumer.org) -- A meta-analysis of data from 15 studies published prior to Aug 2010 suggests eating lots of vegetables, which are high in folic acid or folate may help prevent coronary heart disease (CHD) or coronary artery disease.

The study led by Z-M. Wang and colleagues at Nanjing University of Technology in Nanjing, China found intake of folate, which is found high in vegetables, was inversely associated with risk of coronary heart disease.

Wang and colleagues found the association after analysing data from 7 studies on dietary folate intake and 8 others on blood folate levels.

Data on dietary folate intake showed those who had the highest intake of folic acid were 31 percent less likely to experience coronary heart disease than those who had the lowest intake.  An increase of 200 ug per day in the intake of folate was correlated with a 12 percent reduction in the risk of CHD.

Data on the serum folate showed that those who had the highest levels were 26 percent less likely to suffer coronary heart disease.  And an increase of 5 nmol per liter in the serum level of folic acid was correlated with a 8 percent reduction in the risk.

 "This meta-analysis suggests that dietary folate intake and blood folate level are inversely associated with CHD risk," The Chinese researchers said in the report published in Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases

Folate or folic acid-rich foods are mostly vegetables including lentils, edamame, romaine lettuce,  pinto beans,  okra,  black beans,  black-eyed peas,  spinach, kidney beans,broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, garbanzo beans, asparagus, beets, papaya cubes, and tofu.

The study was based on data from observational studies, which did not prove that folate or folic acid is the cause for the reduction in the risk of coronary heart disease.  Eating high amounts of folate means eating high amounts of vegetables, which further means that eating less meat and dairy products.

These studies do not suggest that taking folate supplements may reduce the risk of anything.  Actually high intake of supplemental folate was found detrimental in some cases such as increased risk of cancer among others.

Photo credit: wikipedia.org

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