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Beta carotene may reduce risk of heart attack

Elderly people may be able to reduce their risk of heart attack by eating fruit and vegetables rich in beta carotene, according to Dutch researchers.

As part of the Rotterdam study, the researchers followed the dietary and medical histories of 4802 people aged from 55 to 95 for four years. During this period 124 of the participants had heart attacks.

Analysis of the results showed that those with the highest daily intakes of beta carotene had a 45 per cent lower risk of heart attack, compared to people consuming the lowest amount of beta carotene. A combination of beta carotene from food and supplements led to a 50 per cent reduction in risk.

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1999;69:261-6