Heart Foundation Summary of Evidence: Antioxidants in food, drinks and supplements for cardiovascular health

The Heart Foundation has released a Summary of Evidence of research undertaken to determine if antioxidants in food, drinks and supplements are effective in maintaining cardiovascular health (CVH) and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

The review was conducted with a focus on antioxidant-rich foods and drinks. In particular, the effects of fruit and vegetables, tea, cocoa and chocolate, coffee and red wine were examined.  
In addition, the paper reviews new evidence on antioxidant supplementation and the effect on cardiovascular health.

Conclusions and recommendations

To reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and maintain cardiovascular health, the Heart Foundation recommends that all Australian adults do the following:
1. Consume at least two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables every day.
2. As part of a healthy balanced diet, drink: black or green tea and cocoa made from raw cocoa powder.
The Heart Foundation does not recommend the following:
1. Consuming milk or dark chocolate for the prevention or treatment of CVD. Due to processing to remove the bitter taste, most chocolate is a poor source of antioxidants, and contains saturated and trans fats.
2. Drinking coffee for the prevention or treatment of CVD. If consuming coffee, drink only paper-filtered, percolated, café-style (espresso) or instant (regular and decaffeinated), in preference to boiled (such as Turkish-style) or plunger coffee. Consume less than five cups per day.
3. Drinking red wine or other types of alcoholic drinks for the prevention or treatment of
CVD. The Heart Foundation supports the National Health and Medical Research Council
(NHMRC) recommendation for healthy Australians who already drink to have no more than two standard drinks per day for men and women.
4. Using antioxidant supplements, such as vitamins E and C, carotenoids and other antioxidants or combinations, for the prevention or treatment of CVD. There is some concern that high doses (> 800 IU/day) of supplemental vitamin E may increase the risk
of CVD.
The Heart Foundation supports the Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New
Zealand, which recommends that people consume a diet that would provide these nutrients at levels currently equating to the 90th centile of intake in the population.
Published: April 2010
HW_FS_Antioxidants_SummaryEvidence_FINAL.pdf156.86 KB


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