Higher flavonoid content reduces heart disease

by Ron Sterk
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WASHINGTON — Results of a new study released in the March 2007 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition show several flavonoid-rich foods may reduce the risk of death from coronary heart disease (C.H.D.) and cardiovascular disease (C.V.D.).

"Dietary intakes of flavonones, anthocyanidins and certain foods rich in flavonoids were associated with reduced risk of death due to C.H.D., C.V.D. and all causes," the study concluded.

Individual flavonoid-rich foods associated with significant mortality reduction included bran (added to foods and associated with stroke and C.V.D.), apples or pears or both and red wine (associated with C.H.D. and C.V.D.), grapefruit (C.H.D.), strawberries (C.V.D.) and chocolate (C.V.D.).

Study participants were 34,489 postmenopausal women in the Iowa Women’s Health Study who were free of C.V.D. and had completed food-frequency questionnaire information at baseline. Intakes of total flavonoids and seven subclasses were categorized into five classes, and food sources were grouped into frequency categories. Results were computed for C.V.D., C.H.D., stroke and total mortality after 16 years of follow-up.

The study observed significant inverse associations between anthocyanidins and C.H.D, C.V.D. and total mortality, between flavonones and C.H.D. and between flavones and total mortality. No association was found between flavonoid intake and stroke mortality.

Researchers used flavonoid food composition data from three recently available U.S. Department of Agriculture databases to improve estimates of dietary flavonoid intake and to evaluate the association between flavonoid intake and C.V.D. mortality. Involved in the study were the division of Epidemiology, School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, the Department of Nutrition at the University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway, and Exponent, Inc., Washington, D.C.

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