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Eating fruit, vegetables cuts death risk of ischemic heart disease

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By David Liu, Ph.D.

Thursday June 23, 2011 (foodconsumer.org) -- A new study first published online January 18, 2011 in European Heart Journal suggests eating fruits and vegetables may reduce risk of fatal ischemic heart disease.

Ischemic heart disease (IHD) or otherwise known as coronary artery disease is a condition in which blood supply of the heart muscle is reduced. This is a major cause of death in the United States.

The study shows that people who ate at least 1.4 pounds of fruit and vegetables daily were 22 percent less likely to die from coronary artery disease, compared with those who ate only half a pound.

Francesca L. Crowe at the University of Oxford in the UK and colleagues found the association after analysing data from 313,000 men and women from eight European countries, who were followed for 8.4 years during which 1636 deaths from IHD were identified.

The subjects participated in  the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)-Heart study and had no history of myocardial infarction or stroke before entering the study.

The researchers also found eating each one portion or 80 grams of fruit and vegetables was associated with a 4 percent reduced risk of fatal IHD.

Crowe et al. concluded that "Results from this large observational study suggest that a higher intake of fruits and vegetables is associated with a reduced risk of IHD mortality."

It should be noted that the association between eating fruit and vegetables and reduction in the risk of fatal ischemic heart disease may not necessarily be causal, meaning that it is not impossible that  some other factors may be responsible for the risk reduction.