Fresh and processed fruit and vegetables cut the risk of a heart attack

Published on
November 18, 2010

Not only fresh, but also processed fruit and vegetables lowers the risk of having a heart attack as stated by nutritional researcher Linda Oude Griep from Wageningen University. For this reasearch she used data from the RVM.

Ten years ago, the National Institute of Public Health and Environmental Protection (RIVM) started a survey of twenty thousand Dutch people between 20 and 65 years of age, none of whom had a previous history of cardiovascular disease. They were asked about their usual diet. The participants were monitored for the next ten years and any heart attacks that occurred were registered. People who ate large amounts of fruit and vegetables turned out to have a 34 percent lower risk of having a heart attack than those who ate little fruit and vegetables. These results tally with previous research findings on the link between fruit and vegetables and heart attacks.

However, Linda Oude Griep was the first researcher to make a distinction between the consumption of fresh and processed fruit and vegetables. Processed fruit includes products such as fruit juice and apple sauce, while processed vegetables largely involve pre-cooked vegetables and tomato sauces. Both raw and processed fruit and vegetables were shown to reduce the risk of a heart attack. This effect was slightly stronger for raw fruit and vegetables than for processed products.

Oude Griep says she was surprised to discover that processed fruit and vegetables also offer protection against a heart attack. 'We know that processing fresh food destroys certain protective substances. But the process also appears to release other substances that are useful to the body.'

Oude Griep’s research was funded by the Product Board for Horticulture. Her research findings were published in the scientific journal PLoS ONE in the beginning of November. | Albert Sikkema