Here’s some news women can cheer: a large study performed in Sweden found that women who ate the most fruits and vegetables – nearly seven servings a day – had a risk of heart attack that was 20 percent lower than that of other women in the study.
The researchers credited the antioxidants in the produce for the protective effect. Their investigation included more than 32,500 Swedish females of ages 49 to 83 who filled out a questionnaire about their eating habits and then were followed for 10 years.
Over that period, more than 1,100 women in the study had heart attacks. Those with the lowest antioxidant levels had a higher risk of heart attack, and reported consuming only 2.4 servings of fruits and veggies daily.
The study didn’t prove that antioxidants were responsible for fewer heart attacks. Instead, the researchers showed only an association between high dietary antioxidant levels and reduced heart attacks in women.
Keep in mind women often don’t realize that heart disease is as much of a threat to them as it is to men. True, the risk for men is higher throughout mid-life, but as women reach menopause, they start to catch up; and by the age of 65, their rate of heart disease equals that of men.
According to the Swedish researchers, their study was the first to look at the effect of all dietary antioxidants in relation to heart attack. The results are encouraging for women whose diets include lots of fruits and vegetables, but the bad news is that only 14 percent of adults in the United States eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day.