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Science Stacks Up for Flavonoids for Heart Health

A diet rich in flavonoids, compounds in fruit, vegetables, coffee, tea and chocolate, could slash the risk associated to cardiovascular disease//, says a joint Norwegian-US study.

The prospective cohort study of 34,489 postmenopausal women, published in the current issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, reports that high dietary intake of several classes of flavonoids can reduced the risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease (CVD), coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke by between 10 and 22 per cent.

"This prospective study of postmenopausal women, with 16 years of follow-up, is, to our knowledge, the first study that has reported on total flavonoids and on seven subclasses of flavonoids," wrote lead author Pamela Mink from Washington-based Exponent Inc.

Flavonoids have been receiving interest with a mounting body of science, including epidemiological and laboratory-based, continuing to report the cancer-fighting potential of a number of different flavonoids, such as isoflavones, anthocyanidins and flavonols.

According to Business Insights, the market potential for flavonoids in the dietetic and nutritional supplement market is in excess of €670m ($862m) for 2007, with annual increases of 12 per cent.

The new study used a 127-item food frequency questionnaire to collect dietary information on 34,489 postmenopausal women (average age 62 at baseline, average BMI 27 kg per sq. m). The researchers used the new US Department of Agriculture databases of food flavonoid content to calculated flavonoid intakes.

After 16 years of follow-up, Mink and her co-workers found that 7091 participants had died, including 2316 from combined CVD, 1329 from CHD, and 469 from stroke.

After adjusting for potentially confounding factors such as age, energy intake, smoking, and physical activity, and dividing flavonoid intakes into five intake groups (quintiles) the researchers report that
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