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Flavonoid-rich fruit, vegetables linked to low cardiovascular death risk

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By David Liu, PHD
Saturday Jan 21, 2012 (foodconsumer.org) -- A new study released n Jan 4, 2012 in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that eating lots of flavonoid -rich fruit and vegetables may help reduce risk of cardiovascular disease like heart disease and stroke.

The study led by M.L. McCullough of American Cancer Society in Atlanta, GA and colleagues shows that men and women who had highest intake of total flavonoids were 18 percent less likely to have fatal cardiovascular disease or CVD.

Flavonoids are plant-based phytochemicals that have already been associated with cardiovascular protective properties.  But the current study looked at the effect of specific classes of flavonoids on the death risk from cardiovascular disease.

For the study, 38,180 men at an average or 70 and 60,289 women at an average age of 69 in  the Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort were surveyed for their intakes of total flavonoids 7 flavonoid classes.  During a 7-year follow-up, 1589 deaths in men and 1182 deaths in women were identified.

In addition to the general association between the total flavonoids and cardiovascular death risk, the researchers also found five classes of these compounds, namely, anthocyanidins, flavan-3-ols, flavones, flavonols, and proanthocyanidins were each associated with lower risk of fatal CVD.

Men who had the  highest intake of total flavonoids were found 37 percent less likely to die from stroke and 10 percent less likely to die from ischemic heart disease, compared with those who had the lowest intake.

Flavonoids are found high in all citrus fruits, berries, ginkgo biloba, onions (particularly red onion), parsley,  pulses, tea (especially white and green tea), red wine, seabuckthorn, and dark chocolate.

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