A diet rich in antioxidants may reduce risk of heart attack

October 1, 2012

According to a new Swedish study, a diet high in antioxidants may be associated with a lower risk of myocardial infarction in women.

In this observational study, 32,561 women aged 49–83 completed a food-frequency questionnaire once a year during a 10 year period in which they were asked how often, on average, they consumed certain types of food or beverage (1). In addition, the number of myocardial infarctions during the study period was documented. The investigators calculated estimates of total antioxidant absorption capacity from a database that measures the oxygen radical absorption capacity (ORAC) of the most common foods in the United States, as no equivalent database of Swedish foods exists. The women were categorized into five groups depending on the total antioxidant capacity of their diets. The study results show that women in the group with the highest total antioxidant capacity had a 20% lower risk of suffering from a myocardial infarction. They consumed almost 7 servings per day of fruit and vegetables, which was nearly 3 times more than the women with the lowest total antioxidant capacity, who on average consumed 2.4 servings.

The researchers noted that the dietary total antioxidant capacity takes into account all existing antioxidants, including thousands of compounds present in the usual diet and their synergistic effects. Despite the experi-ment’s results, the researchers note that only 14% of American adults and 9.5% of adolescents actually eat 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day.


  1. Rautiainen, S. et al. Total Antioxidant Capacity from Diet and Risk of Myocardial Infarction: A Prospective Cohort of Women. The American Journal of Medicine. 2012; 125(10):974–980.