Processed fruit and vegetables provide the same protection against heart attacks as fresh ones, reports Wageningen nutrition researcher Linda Oude Griep, who bases her findings on data provided by the Dutch national public health institute RIVM.
Ten years ago, the RIVM surveyed 20,000 Dutch adults between 20 and 65 years old, none of whom had signs of cardiovascular disease at that point. They were asked about their eating habits. They were monitored over the next ten years, and it was registered which of them had a heart attack in that period. The people who ate plenty of fruit and vegetables appeared to have 34 percent less risk of a heart attack than those who ate little fruit and vegetables. This result tallies with those of earlier research on the effects of fruit and vegetables. What is new, however, is that Oude Griep could distinguish between the consumption of fresh and of processed fruit and vegetables. Processed fruit includes fruit juices and apple sauce, while processed vegetables include cooked and fried vegetables and carrot juice. The processed produce turned out to reduce the chances of a heart attack by just as much as fresh fruit and vegetables. That was surprising, says Oude Griep. 'We know that certain protective substances get lost during processing. But other substances become more available to the body.' Oude Griep's research is funded by Productschap Tuinbouw, the Dutch horticultural board. She published her finding two weeks ago in the scientific journal PLoS ONE.