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STUDY: One more reason to eat fruit and veggies
AUTHORS: Dr. Andrew Neil
ABSTRACT: Results of a randomised trial show that encouraging individuals to increase their intake of fruit and vegetables increases plasma antioxidant levels and decreases blood pressure.
COMMENTARY: Dr. Andrew Neil and colleagues from the University of Oxford, UK, randomly assigned 690 healthy individuals, 25 to 64 years of age, to a program that encouraged them to increase fruit and vegetable consumption to at least five servings per day, or to no intervention.
During 6 months of follow-up, those in the intervention group had significant increases in plasma concentrations of alpha-carotene (7% from baseline), beta-carotene (7%), lutein (4%), beta-cryptoxanthin (25%) and ascorbic acid (7%), compared with controls (significance ranged from p = 0.032 to p = 0.0002.
Systolic blood pressure fell significantly more in the intervention group (4 mm Hg, p < 0.0001) as did diastolic blood pressure (1.5 mm Hg, p = 0.02) compared with controls, the researchers found.
There was no difference in the groups in total cholesterol, lycopene, retinol, alpha-tocopherol or gamma-tocopherol.
They add that "a reduction of 2 mmHg in diastolic blood pressure results in a decrease of about 17% in the incidence of hypertension, 6% in the risk of coronary heart disease and 15% in the risk of stroke and transient ischaemic attack."