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Antioxidants for Heart Health

The National Heart Foundation (NHF) of Australia has recently released a position statement that provides  recommendations for the consumption of antioxidant-rich food, drinks and supplements for cardiovascular heart health. They advise health professionals not to recommend Australian adults to use chocolate, coffee, red wine or antioxidant supplements for the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease (CVD) 1.

NHF recommends all Australian adults to do the following:

  1. Consume at least two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables daily.
  2. As part of a balanced diet, drink black or green tea and cocoa made from raw cocoa powder. This does not include iced tea, drinking chocolate or milk modifiers. Limit the use of sugar and opt for skimmed or semi-skimmed milk in tea if possible.

NHF does not recommend the following:

  1. Consuming milk chocolate or dark chocolate for the prevention or treatment of CVD. This is because most chocolate is a poor source of antioxidants and is high in energy, sugar, saturated and trans fats.
  2. Drinking coffee for the prevention or treatment of CVD. If consuming coffee, opt for paper-filtered, percolated, café-style (espresso) or instant (regular and decaffeinated), in preference to boiled (such as Turkish-style) or plunger coffee. Consume no more than five cups of coffee a day. Limit the use of sugar and opt for skimmed or semi-skimmed milk in coffee if possible.
  3. Drinking red wine for the prevention or treatment of CVD. For healthy Australians who already drink alcohol, limit consumption to no more than two standard drinks a day for men and women.
  4. Using antioxidant supplements, such as vitamin E and C and carotenoids, for the prevention or treatment of CVD. There is some concern that high doses (>800 IU/day) of vitamin E supplements may increase the risk of CVD.

Reference:

  1. Heart Foundation Position statement Antioxidants in food, drinks and supplements for cardiovascular health. 2010.

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