Do you want to keep your heart healthy and pumping with zero complications throughout your life?
The Department of Medicine at the University of Hong Kong in China carried out this human research. They published the results in the journal Nutrients.
Cardiovascular disease causes a huge amount of suffering and is a major cause of death across the globe.
“Cardiovascular mortality accounted for 1/3 of deaths in 2015.”
One of the factors in cardiovascular disease is what doctors call oxidative stress. This happens when free radicals run unchecked in the body damaging cells and DNA.
The solution to free radicals and oxidative stress is what we call antioxidants. These are nutrients and other compounds that mop up free radicals.
“Oxidative stress plays an important role in atherosclerosis, amidst the multiple common drivers of cardiovascular disease.”
Some antioxidants show protective effects against cardiovascular disease.
“Antioxidant vitamins have been associated with reduced cardiovascular risk.”
This study looked at the effect of three antioxidant vitamins on cardiovascular risk.
“We investigated the prospective relationship between dietary intake of antioxidant vitamins and incident adverse cardiovascular outcomes.”
The study was based on food questionnaires dating back to the mid-1990s.
“Intake of antioxidant vitamins was assessed using a food frequency questionnaire in 875 Chinese participants from the study in 1995–1996.”
The researchers calculated the differences in risk among those taking high and low levels of these antioxidant vitamins.
The vitamins in question are vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E.
Some of the participants developed cardiovascular problems over the period since the study began. So we can see how the vitamins are related to disease risk.
“Over a median follow-up of 22 years, 85 participants (9.7%) developed adverse cardiovascular outcomes.”
The analysis showed that all three of these vitamins decrease the risk of cardiovascular problems.
“Dietary intakes of vitamin A, C, and E were independently and inversely associated with incident adverse cardiovascular outcomes.”
Vitamin A decreased cardiovascular risk by 32%.
“Vitamin A was inversely associated with cardiovascular risk with a hazard ratio of 0.68.”
Beef liver is a great source of dietary vitamin A.
Vitamin C lowered the risk of cardiovascular problems by 34%.
“Vitamin C was inversely associated with adverse cardiovascular outcomes – hazard ratio 0.66.”
Citrus fruits and kiwi fruits are very high in vitamin C.
High levels of vitamin E conferred even more protection.
Vitamin E lowered the risk of cardiovascular problems by 43%.
“Vitamin E was inversely associated with adverse cardiovascular outcomes – hazard ratio 0.57.”
We can get vitamin E in seeds and nut and it provides some protection against the harmful fats that these foods contain.
(Don’t eat excessive nuts and seeds to get vitamin E because the fats in some of those are a problem.)
The study found that all of the antioxidant vitamins tested lowered the risk of cardiovascular problems independent of each other.
“Dietary intakes of antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E reduced the risk of adverse cardiovascular outcomes.”
These vitamins tend to be found in foods that also contain other key nutrients.
And, if possible, it is best to get these vitamins from food.
However, some studies are beginning to show that excessive amounts of antioxidants can also be a problem. High-dose supplementation of antioxidant vitamins may not be a good idea for everyone.
The problem is that people are not eating enough fruits and vegetables -- so they are not getting enough dietary antioxidants.
“The mean intake of fruit and vegetables are still lower than current recommendations globally.”
Deficiency of antioxidant vitamins increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.
“Low dietary intake of vitamins A, C, and E all significantly increased the long-term risk of developing adverse cardiovascular outcomes.”
To add these vitamins to your diet regularly, here’s a list of some foods that they can be found in:
Vitamin A: Beef liver, cod liver oil, sweet potato, carrots, sweet pepper, spinach, broccoli, mango, egg
Vitamin C: Red pepper, green pepper, orange, cabbage, tomato, strawberry, grapefruit,
Vitamin E: Almond, peanut, mango, hazelnut, spinach, wheat germ oil, kiwifruit, spinach