new Danish study underscores the benefits of eating healthy meals high in vitamin C. A reduced risk of heart disease has been linked to high concentrations of vitamin C in the blood as a result of eating fruits and vegetables.
“Those with the highest intake of fruit and vegetables have a 15
percent lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease and a 20 percent
lower risk of early death compared with those who very rarely eat fruit
and vegetables,” Dr. Camilla Kobylecki, the department of clinical
biochemistry in Herlev and Gentofte Hospital, stated in a press release.
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A cup of strawberries, one large orange, or a single portion of
chopped broccoli every day will provide enough vitamin C for most
The reason this vitamin is so necessary is it supports normal
physiological functions, builds connective tissues within the body, and
also helps with iron absorption.
A potent antioxidant, vitamin C also
protects the body's cells from disease-causing damage. Importantly, your
body does not produce or store vitamin C, so you need to eat foods rich
in this essential nutrient.
The good news is this vitamin is
water-soluble, which means any extra C you consume simply flushes out of
your body with your urine. It’s near impossible, then, to "overdose" on
this vitamin, so eat away!
For the current study, the researchers wanted to verify the somewhat
inconsistent results of various past experiments. Some studies showed
how higher than average blood levels of vitamin C from extra consumption
of fruits and vegetables correlated to a lower risk of ischemic heart
disease, yet other clinical trials did not make the same connection.
To test this hypothesis, the current research team designed an
experiment based on based on the Copenhagen General Population Study.
Because Denmark centrally records each citizens diagnoses, use of
prescription medicine, and demographic information — diverse information
including number of siblings, earned income, food consumption, and
education — the researchers had access to precision data (down to each
person’s DNA code) for roughly 100,000 Danes.
They focused their investigation on the records of people who had
ischemic heart disease or had died from it, as well as those with a
genetic tendency toward higher-than-average levels of vitamin C
circulating in their blood. Pulling records and crunching numbers, the
research team verified the results of past studies.
High intake of fruit
and vegetables linked to low risk of heart disease and early mortality
by any cause.
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Yet, the researchers also discovered those with genetically high
plasma vitamin C concentrations showed comparable results to those who
simply ate lots of fruits and vegetables.
This suggests any reduced risk
in heart disease or mortality is most likely related to high
concentrations of vitamin C in the blood.
“We know that fruit and vegetables are healthy, but now our research
is pinpointing more precisely why this is so,” said Dr. Borge
Nordestgaard, a clinical professor at University of Copenhagen and a
consultant at Herlev and Gentofte Hospital.
“Eating a lot of fruit and
vegetables is a natural way of increasing vitamin C blood levels.”
Source: Kobylecki C, Afzal S, Smith GD, Nordestgaard BG. Genetically
high plasma vitamin C, intake of fruit and vegetables, and risk of
ischemic heart disease and all-cause mortality: a Mendelian
randomization study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2015.