(HealthDay News) – High intake of a specific sub-class of flavonoids, called anthocyanins, is associated with a reduced risk of myocardial infarction (MI) in young and middle-aged women, according to a study published in the Jan. 15 issue of Circulation.

To examine the correlation between anthocyanin and other flavonoid intake and the risk of MI, Aedín Cassidy, PhD, from the Norwich Medical School at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom, and colleagues followed 93,600 women (25–42 years of age) participating in the Nurses’ Health Study II who were healthy at baseline (1989). A validated food-frequency questionnaire collected every four years was used to calculate flavonoid intake.

The researchers found that, during 18 years of follow-up, there were 405 cases of MI. After multivariable adjustment, there was a significant inverse association between higher intake of anthocyanins and risk of MI (hazard ratio [HR], 0.68 for highest vs. lowest quintiles). The relationship remained significant even after inclusion of intermediate conditions, including history of hypertension (HR, 0.7). Combined intake of blueberries and strawberries correlated with a non-significantly decreased risk of MI (HR, 0.66; 95% confidence interval, 0.40–1.08) when comparing those consuming >3 servings a week to those with lower intake. Other flavonoid subclasses were not significantly correlated with MI risk.

“Our findings suggest that bioactive compounds present in red and blue fruits and vegetables commonly consumed in the habitual diet may be associated with a reduced risk of MI in young and middle-aged women,” the authors write.

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