“We can see that those with the highest intake of fruit and vegetables have a 15% lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease and a 20% lower risk of early death compared with those who very rarely eat fruit and vegetables. At the same time, we can see that the reduced risk is related to high vitamin C concentrations in the blood from the fruit and vegetables,” said Camilla Kobylecki, a medical doctor and PhD student at the Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Herlev and Gentofte Hospital.
Among other things, vitamin C helps build connective tissue, which supports and connects different types of tissues and organs in the body. Vitamin C is also a potent antioxidant, which protects cells and biological molecules from damage that causes many diseases, including cardiovascular disease. The human body is not able to produce vitamin C, which means people must get the vitamin from the diet.
“We know that fruit and vegetables are healthy, but now our research is pinpointing more precisely why this is so,” said Børge Nordestgaard, a clinical professor at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, 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, which in the long term may contribute to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and early death. You can get vitamin C supplements, but it is a good idea to get your vitamin C by eating a healthy diet, which will at the same time help you to develop a healthier lifestyle in the long term, for the general benefit of your health.”
The researchers are now continuing their work to determine which other factors, combined with vitamin C, have an impact on cardiovascular disease and death.