Eating more fruit may lower risk of abdominal aortic aneurysm

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Eating more fruit may decrease the risk of suffering from abdominal aortic aneurysm, according to new research in the American Heart Association journal Circulation. In a Swedish study, people who reported eating more than two servings of fruit daily had a lower risk of abdominal aortic aneurysm than those who ate the least amount of fruit.

Researchers divided more than 80,000 people, ages 46–84 years, into four equal-size groups based on how much fruit and vegetables they reported eating.

In the next 13 years, hospital and death records showed 1,086 people had abdominal aortic aneurysms, including 222 whose aneurysms ruptured. More than 80% of the aneurysms and ruptures were in men.

The researchers found that compared to those eating the least amount of fruit (less than one full serving), those who ate the most (more than two servings daily, not counting juice) had a 25% lower risk of the aortic condition and 43% lower risk of a ruptured aneurysm. They also found that compared to those who did not eat any fruit, those who had two servings a day had a 31% lower risk of a non-ruptured aneurysm and a 39% lower risk of a ruptured aneurysm.

“A high consumption of fruits may help to prevent many vascular diseases, and our study suggests that a lower risk of abdominal aortic aneurysm will be among the benefits,” said Otto Stackelberg, lead author and a PhD student at the Institute of Environmental Medicine’s Nutritional Epidemiology Unit at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm.

High levels of antioxidants in fruits might protect against abdominal aortic aneurysm by preventing oxidative stress that can promote inflammation. Researchers found no association for vegetables, which are also rich in antioxidants. Vegetables lack some types of antioxidants that are in fruits, which might help explain the fruit versus vegetable findings, Stackelberg said.

“Vegetables remain important for health. Other studies have found that eating more fruits and vegetables may decrease the risk of cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and several cancers,” Stackelberg said.

In the study, people ate apples and pears the most, followed by bananas, oranges and other citrus fruits.

The American Heart Association advises the average adult to eat four to five servings each of fruits and vegetables daily, based on a 2000 calorie diet. A diet rich in vegetables and fruits is a way of getting important nutrients that most people do not get enough of, including folate, magnesium, potassium and dietary fibre, as well as vitamins A, C, and K. They are also naturally low in saturated fat and cholesterol.

Being a non-smoker is also crucial in preventing abdominal aortic aneurysm, Stackelberg said. “Never start smoking; and if you already do smoke, quit today. It is never too late.”

Co-authors are Martin Björck, Susanna C Larsson, Nicola Orsini, and Alicja Wolk. The Swedish Research Council and Karolinska Institutet funded the study.

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