Impact of the quantity and flavonoid content of fruits and vegetables on markers of intake in adults with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Limited robust randomised controlled trials investigating fruit and vegetable (F&V) intake in people at risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) exist. We aimed to design and validate a dietary strategy of increasing flavonoid-rich versus flavonoid-poor F&V consumption on nutrient biomarker profile.
A parallel, randomised, controlled, dose–response dietary intervention study. Participants with a CVD relative risk of 1.5 assessed by risk scores were randomly assigned to one of the 3 groups: habitual (control, CT), high-flavonoid (HF) or low-flavonoid (LF) diets. While the CT group (n = 57) consumed their habitual diet throughout, the HF (n = 58) and LF (n = 59) groups sequentially increased their daily F&V intake by an additional 2, 4 and 6 portions for 6-week periods during the 18-week study.
Compliance to target numbers and types of F&V was broadly met and verified by dietary records, and plasma and urinary biomarkers. Mean (±SEM) number of F&V portions/day consumed by the HF and LF groups at baseline (3.8 ± 0.3 and 3.4 ± 0.3), 6 weeks (6.3 ± 0.4 and 5.8 ± 0.3), 12 weeks (7.0 ± 0.3 and 6.8 ± 0.3) and 18 weeks (7.6 ± 0.4 and 8.1 ± 0.4), respectively, was similar at baseline yet higher than the CT group (3.9 ± 0.3, 4.3 ± 0.3, 4.6 ± 0.4, 4.5 ± 0.3) (P = 0.015). There was a dose-dependent increase in dietary and urinary flavonoids in the HF group, with no change in other groups (P = 0.0001). Significantly higher dietary intakes of folate (P = 0.035), non-starch polysaccharides (P = 0.001), vitamin C (P = 0.0001) and carotenoids (P = 0.0001) were observed in both intervention groups compared with CT, which were broadly supported by nutrient biomarker analysis.
The success of improving nutrient profile by active encouragement of F&V intake in an intervention study implies the need for a more hands-on public health approach.