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Colorful fruits and vegetables are abundant in antioxidants, compounds that may protect against cardiovascular disease by preventing lipid oxidation and endothelial damage — both of which can lead to atherosclerosis, and by preserving the nitric oxide pool–which helps to reduce blood pressure.

Susanne Rautiainen, from Harvard Medical School (Massachusetts, USA), and colleagues analyzed data collected from 33,713 women enrolled in the Swedish Mammography Cohort, ages 49 to 83 years. The team surveyed dietary intakes and calculated the dietary total antioxidant capacity for each participant. Over 11.3 years of follow-up, 884 cases of heart failure occurred. The researchers found that those women with the highest average antioxidant capacities were 42 percent less likely to develop heart failure, as compared to women with the lowest capacities. Observing that: “The total antioxidant capacity of diet, an estimate reflecting all antioxidants in diet, was associated with lower risk of heart failure,” the study authors conclude that: “These results indicate that a healthful diet high in antioxidants may help prevent heart failure.”


  1. Susanne Rautiainen, Emily B. Levitan, Murray A. Mittleman, Alicja Wolk. “Total Antioxidant Capacity of Diet and Risk of Heart Failure: A Population-based Prospective Cohort of Women.” Amer J Med., 3 April 2013.