Higher intakes of foods rich in carotenoids are associated with a reduction in risk of coronary artery disease, say US researchers, despite previous results showing little effect of beta-carotene supplements.
Numerous studies have shown that higher intakes or higher blood concentrations of carotenes are associated with a lower risk of coronary artery disease (CAD). But since trials of beta-carotene supplementation proved negative, attention has focused instead on the potential role of other dietary carotenoids in the prevention of CAD.
Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston and the Brigham and Women's Hospital analysed food-frequency questionnaires detailing consumption of carotenoids and various other nutrients from 998 women with incident cases of CAD.
"After adjustment for age, smoking, and other CAD risk factors, we observed modest but significant inverse associations between the highest quintiles of intake of beta-carotene and risk of CAD but no significant relation with intakes of lutein/zeaxanthin, lycopene, or beta-cryptoxanthin," report the researchers in June's American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
For women in the highest beta-carotene intake compared with the lowest quintile of intake, risk of CAD was reduced by 26 per cent, said the researchers, adding that this was not significantly altered by current smoking status.