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Critical review: vegetables and fruit in the prevention of chronic diseases

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      Abstract

      Background

      Vegetables and fruit provide a significant part of human nutrition, as they are important sources of nutrients, dietary fibre, and phytochemicals. However, it is uncertain whether the risk of certain chronic diseases can be reduced by increased consumption of vegetables or fruit by the general public, and what strength of evidence has to be allocated to such an association.

      Methods

      Therefore, a comprehensive analysis of the studies available in the literature and the respective study results has been performed and evaluated regarding obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus, hypertension, coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke, cancer, chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, osteoporosis, eye diseases, and dementia. For judgement, the strength of evidence for a risk association, the level of evidence, and the number of studies were considered, the quality of the studies and their estimated relevance based on study design and size.

      Results

      For hypertension, CHD, and stroke, there is convincing evidence that increasing the consumption of vegetables and fruit reduces the risk of disease. There is probable evidence that the risk of cancer in general is inversely associated with the consumption of vegetables and fruit. In addition, there is possible evidence that an increased consumption of vegetables and fruit may prevent body weight gain. As overweight is the most important risk factor for type 2 diabetes mellitus, an increased consumption of vegetables and fruit therefore might indirectly reduces the incidence of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Independent of overweight, there is probable evidence that there is no influence of increased consumption on the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus. There is possible evidence that increasing the consumption of vegetables and fruit lowers the risk of certain eye diseases, dementia and the risk of osteoporosis. Likewise, current data on asthma, COPD, and RA indicate that an increase in vegetable and fruit consumption may contribute to the prevention of these diseases. For IBD, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy, there was insufficient evidence regarding an association with the consumption of vegetables and fruit.

      Conclusions

      This critical review on the associations between the intake of vegetables and fruit and the risk of several chronic diseases shows that a high daily intake of these foods promotes health. Therefore, from a scientific point of view, national campaigns to increase vegetable and fruit consumption are justified. The promotion of vegetable and fruit consumption by nutrition and health policies is a preferable strategy to decrease the burden of several chronic diseases in Western societies.

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      Most cited references 310

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      Reduction in the incidence of type 2 diabetes with lifestyle intervention or metformin.

      Type 2 diabetes affects approximately 8 percent of adults in the United States. Some risk factors--elevated plasma glucose concentrations in the fasting state and after an oral glucose load, overweight, and a sedentary lifestyle--are potentially reversible. We hypothesized that modifying these factors with a lifestyle-intervention program or the administration of metformin would prevent or delay the development of diabetes. We randomly assigned 3234 nondiabetic persons with elevated fasting and post-load plasma glucose concentrations to placebo, metformin (850 mg twice daily), or a lifestyle-modification program with the goals of at least a 7 percent weight loss and at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week. The mean age of the participants was 51 years, and the mean body-mass index (the weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in meters) was 34.0; 68 percent were women, and 45 percent were members of minority groups. The average follow-up was 2.8 years. The incidence of diabetes was 11.0, 7.8, and 4.8 cases per 100 person-years in the placebo, metformin, and lifestyle groups, respectively. The lifestyle intervention reduced the incidence by 58 percent (95 percent confidence interval, 48 to 66 percent) and metformin by 31 percent (95 percent confidence interval, 17 to 43 percent), as compared with placebo; the lifestyle intervention was significantly more effective than metformin. To prevent one case of diabetes during a period of three years, 6.9 persons would have to participate in the lifestyle-intervention program, and 13.9 would have to receive metformin. Lifestyle changes and treatment with metformin both reduced the incidence of diabetes in persons at high risk. The lifestyle intervention was more effective than metformin.
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        The Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure: the JNC 7 report.

        "The Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure" provides a new guideline for hypertension prevention and management. The following are the key messages(1) In persons older than 50 years, systolic blood pressure (BP) of more than 140 mm Hg is a much more important cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factor than diastolic BP; (2) The risk of CVD, beginning at 115/75 mm Hg, doubles with each increment of 20/10 mm Hg; individuals who are normotensive at 55 years of age have a 90% lifetime risk for developing hypertension; (3) Individuals with a systolic BP of 120 to 139 mm Hg or a diastolic BP of 80 to 89 mm Hg should be considered as prehypertensive and require health-promoting lifestyle modifications to prevent CVD; (4) Thiazide-type diuretics should be used in drug treatment for most patients with uncomplicated hypertension, either alone or combined with drugs from other classes. Certain high-risk conditions are compelling indications for the initial use of other antihypertensive drug classes (angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, angiotensin-receptor blockers, beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers); (5) Most patients with hypertension will require 2 or more antihypertensive medications to achieve goal BP (<140/90 mm Hg, or <130/80 mm Hg for patients with diabetes or chronic kidney disease); (6) If BP is more than 20/10 mm Hg above goal BP, consideration should be given to initiating therapy with 2 agents, 1 of which usually should be a thiazide-type diuretic; and (7) The most effective therapy prescribed by the most careful clinician will control hypertension only if patients are motivated. Motivation improves when patients have positive experiences with and trust in the clinician. Empathy builds trust and is a potent motivator. Finally, in presenting these guidelines, the committee recognizes that the responsible physician's judgment remains paramount.
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          Prevention of type 2 diabetes mellitus by changes in lifestyle among subjects with impaired glucose tolerance.

          Type 2 diabetes mellitus is increasingly common, primarily because of increases in the prevalence of a sedentary lifestyle and obesity. Whether type 2 diabetes can be prevented by interventions that affect the lifestyles of subjects at high risk for the disease is not known. We randomly assigned 522 middle-aged, overweight subjects (172 men and 350 women; mean age, 55 years; mean body-mass index [weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in meters], 31) with impaired glucose tolerance to either the intervention group or the control group. Each subject in the intervention group received individualized counseling aimed at reducing weight, total intake of fat, and intake of saturated fat and increasing intake of fiber and physical activity. An oral glucose-tolerance test was performed annually; the diagnosis of diabetes was confirmed by a second test. The mean duration of follow-up was 3.2 years. The mean (+/-SD) amount of weight lost between base line and the end of year 1 was 4.2+/-5.1 kg in the intervention group and 0.8+/-3.7 kg in the control group; the net loss by the end of year 2 was 3.5+/-5.5 kg in the intervention group and 0.8+/-4.4 kg in the control group (P<0.001 for both comparisons between the groups). The cumulative incidence of diabetes after four years was 11 percent (95 percent confidence interval, 6 to 15 percent) in the intervention group and 23 percent (95 percent confidence interval, 17 to 29 percent) in the control group. During the trial, the risk of diabetes was reduced by 58 percent (P<0.001) in the intervention group. The reduction in the incidence of diabetes was directly associated with changes in lifestyle. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented by changes in the lifestyles of high-risk subjects.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1 ]Department of Epidemiology, German Institute of Human Nutrition, Potsdam-Rehbrücke, Germany
            [2 ]Science Department, German Nutrition Society, Bonn, Germany
            [3 ]Department of Physiology and Biochemistry of Nutrition, Max Rubner-Institut, Karlsruhe, Germany
            [4 ]Department of Nutrition and Food Science, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany
            [5 ]Nutrition and Food Research Centre, Chair for the Biofunctionality of Food, Technical University of Munich, Freising-Weihenstephan, Germany
            [6 ]Department of Nutritional, Food and Consumer Sciences, Fulda University of Applied Sciences, Fulda, Germany
            [7 ]Institute of Human Nutrition and Food Science, Christian-Albrechts-University Kiel, Kiel, Germany
            [8 ]Department of Molecular Epidemiology, German Institute of Human Nutrition, Potsdam-Rehbrücke, Germany
            Contributors
            +49-228-3776621 , +49-228-3776800 , bechthold@dge.de
            Journal
            Eur J Nutr
            Eur J Nutr
            European Journal of Nutrition
            Springer-Verlag (Berlin/Heidelberg )
            1436-6207
            1436-6215
            9 June 2012
            9 June 2012
            September 2012
            : 51
            : 6
            : 637-663
            3419346
            22684631
            380
            10.1007/s00394-012-0380-y
            © The Author(s) 2012
            Categories
            Review
            Custom metadata
            © Springer-Verlag 2012

            Nutrition & Dietetics

            fruit, chronic diseases, epidemiology, vegetables, prevention

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