Press Releases

2001 Releases

Increasing Daily Servings of Green Leafy Vegetables and Fruits Rich in Vitamin C Reduces Risk of Heart Disease

For immediate release: June 18, 2001

Boston, MA--Individuals who regularly consume fruits and vegetables, in particular green leafy vegetables and fruits rich in vitamin C, reduce the risk of coronary heart disease when compared to people whose diets include lesser amounts of fruits and vegetables. The finding, by a team of researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health, appears in the June 19 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The researchers noted that individuals in the study who increased consumption of fruits and vegetables by one additional serving per day helped reduce the risk for coronary heart disease (CHD) by 4 percent. Each additional serving of vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables was associated with a 6 percent reduction in coronary heart disease risk whereas an incremental serving of green leafy vegetables was associated with a 23 percent reduction in risk. People who consumed eight or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day were at over 20 percent reduced risk of CHD compared to those who consumed less than three servings per day.


The Health Professionals Follow-up Study and the Nurses’ Health Study, a Brigham and Women’s Hospital-based study, were used to select participants for the study. Some 42,000 men between the ages of 40 and 75 were tracked for eight years, and more than 84,000 women between the ages of 34 and 59 were tracked for 14 years. All participants were free of cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease at the start of the study. Participants returned detailed food frequency questionnaires covering 15 fruit items and 28 vegetable items. Potatoes, tofu, soybeans, dried beans and lentils and condiments such as chili sauce or garlic were not included when measuring vegetable consumption.

Lead author Kaumudi Joshipura, assistant professor of epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health said, "Reducing the risk for coronary heart disease is as easy as going to the produce section of the grocery store. Consuming an abundance of fruits and vegetables can only help one’s efforts to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and should complement a healthy lifestyle."

The research was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Office of Dietary Supplements and the Florida Department of Citrus.

For further information, please contact:

Robin Herman
Office of Communications
Harvard School of Public Health
677 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
Phone: 617-432-4752