Fruits and Vegetables May Prolong Your
Study Shows Foods Rich in Antioxidants May
Reduce the Risk of Death
WebMD News, Nov. 22, 2010 -- Eat your veggies and you may
live longer, a study suggests.
The study shows that eating
foods rich in
antioxidants, like vegetables and fruits - typical of the traditional Mediterranean diet - fights disease and may prolong life.
Researchers found that people with the highest
levels of the antioxidant alpha-carotene in their blood had a 39% lower risk of death from any cause, including
and cancer, than those who had the lowest levels of
the antioxidant during the 14-year study.
"These findings support increasing fruit and
vegetable consumption as a means of preventing premature death," write researcher Chaoyang Li, MD, PhD, of the CDC and
colleagues in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Alpha-carotene is part of a group of
antioxidants known as carotenoids, which also includes beta-carotene and lycopene. Vegetables particularly high in
alpha-carotene include yellow-orange vegetables, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and winter squash, and dark
green vegetables, such as broccoli, green beans, green peas, spinach, turnip greens, collards, and lettuce.
Although previous studies have suggested eating
more fruits and vegetables is associated with a
lower risk of disease, studies have not shown that taking beta-carotene supplements reduces the risk of dying from
heart disease or cancer.
Researchers wanted to see if other carotenoids
may also play a role in reducing the risk of disease.
Reduced Risk of Death
In this study, researchers looked at the
relationship between blood levels of alpha-carotene and the risk of death in 15,318 adults who participated in the Third
National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey Follow-up Study.
The participants provided blood samples between
1988 and 1994 and were followed through 2006.
The results showed the risk of dying during the
follow-up period was consistently lower in people with higher levels of alpha-carotene in the blood. The protective
effect of alpha-carotene also increased as blood levels of the antioxidant increased.
For example, compared with people with the
lowest levels of alpha-carotene (between 0 and 1 microgram per deciliter) the risk of death was 23% lower among those
who had concentrations of between 2 and 3 micrograms per deciliter. The risk of death was 39% lower among those with the
highest levels of alpha-carotene in their blood (9 micrograms per deciliter or higher).
Researchers say higher levels of the
antioxidant were also linked to a lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease or cancer as well as from any other
They say alpha-carotene is chemically similar
to beta-carotene but may be more effective at protecting cells in the
brain, liver and skin.
SOURCE: Li, C., Archives of Internal Medicine, Nov. 22, 2010,
online first edition.
News release, American Medical Association.
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