Dietary antioxidants like beta-carotene and vitamins C and
E are known to aid in the prevention of some cancers. Do they
avert the onset of cardiovascular diseases of the heart and
blood vessels? Observational studies in the past have shown
that these antioxidants may protect against incidences of
cardiovascular disease and death, but now there may be more
To determine if dietary antioxidants are related to the presence
of peripheral arterial disease (a cardiovascular disease),
the authors analyzed data on approximately 4,400 people in
the Rotterdam Study. This study was designed to investigate
cases of long-term, disabling diseases and their risk factors
in the Netherlands. The 55- to 94-year-olds’ diets were evaluated,
and peripheral arterial disease was examined using blood pressure
readings in the hands and feet.
Eating foods high in antioxidants decreased incidences of
peripheral arterial disease, but with differences between
genders. In women, subjects with high vitamin C intake were
less likely to have the disease, compared to those with low
intake of vitamin C. Men with high vitamin E intake, on the
other hand, were less likely to have cardiovascular disease
than those with low intake.
Women: You can get natural vitamin C in high concentrations
from fruits and vegetables like oranges, green peppers, tomatoes,
watermelons, and leafy greens. Try to eat these foods raw
or lightly cooked for higher vitamin concentrations.
Men: Be sure to eat foods rich in vitamin E, such as soybean
and vegetable oils, nuts, spinach, and sweet potatoes. Wheat
germ oil, although less common, has the highest amount of
natural vitamin E.
Both men and women should eat a variety of these foods to
obtain the other health benefits of these vitamins.
K, den Breeijen JH, Grobbee DE, et al. Dietary antioxidants
and peripheral arterial disease: The Rotterdam Study. American
Journal of Epidemiology 2001:154(2), pp. 145-149.
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