Upping fruit intake with less fat has greater benefit than either alone

Related tags Heart disease Nutrition

Increasing fruit and vegetable intake at the same time as a
reduction in saturated fat will have a greater protective effect
against heart disease death than using either strategy alone, say
US researchers.

The protective effects of fruit and vegetable intake on both heart disease death and deaths in general have previously been demonstrated but researchers at the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Boston wanted to take into account the possibility that people that eat more fruit and vegetables may be displacing higher-fat foods.

They investigated the individual and combined effects of these dietary elements on total and heart disease mortality among 501 initially healthy men in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging.

The men were followed for an average of 18 years with seven-day diet records taken at up to seven different visits.

Men eating at least five servings of fruit and vegetables daily and getting less than 12 per cent of their energy from saturated fat were 31 per cent less likely to die of any cause than those eating less fruit and more saturated fat.

This group was also 76 per cent less likely to die from coronary heart disease, write the authors in this month's issue of the Journal of Nutrition​ (135:556-561).

Men consuming either low saturated fat or high content of fruit and vegetables, but not both, did not have a significantly lower risk of total mortality but did have 64-67 per cent lower risk of death from heart disease.

"These results confirm the protective effects of low saturated fat and high fruit and vegetable intake against coronary heart disease mortality,"​ write the authors.

They add that the increased protection seen by combining both behaviours suggests that their beneficial effects are mediated by different mechanisms.

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