Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Health benefits of increased vegetable and fruit consumption

Studying the potential health benefits of increased vegetable and fruit consumption within the European Union (EU) is the topic of the project. One part of the project is studying the relationship between increased vegetable and fruit intake (as providers of the carotenoids lypopene, lutein, beta-carotene) and the effects of these compounds on reducing the oxidation of one of the fractions the so-called low density lipoprotein (LDL) fraction of cholesterol in human blood. LDL oxidation is linked to arterial disease and the finding that the susceptibility of LDL to oxidation is reduced in subjects who consume more vegetables and fruits is an important finding. To-date, a positive relationship has been established in humans between plasma (blood) lutein concentration and LDL resistance to oxidation. This finding is being confirmed in additional studies. It has also been shown that non-smokers have higher carotenoid plasma levels (mmol/L) than smokers (ie beta-carotene 0.58 vs 0.18, lutein 0.39 vs 0.25 and lycopene 0.53 vs 0.45) indicating that if these exert a protective effect on LDL oxidation, then the effect is greater in non-smokers. The differential was maintained after two weeks of vegetable and fruit supplementation of the diet (ie beta-carotene 0.97 vs 0.38, lutein 0.43 vs 0.26 and lycopene 1.05 vs 0.73). To-date, in these human studies, the increase in carotenoid intake from fruit and vegetables has been determined by individual appetite and tastes of the volunteers. In the next stage the practicality of imposing a fixed menu for all volunteers is being considered so that the oxidation resistance of LDL can be determined in relation to food sources of specific carotenoids.

Reported by

Institute of Food Research
NR4 7UA Norwich
United Kingdom
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