Background: Whether different intakes of vegetables and fruit modulate immunologic markers is currently not known.
Objective: We investigated the effects of low, medium, and high intakes of vegetables and fruit on markers of immune functions, including nonspecific markers of inflammation.
Design: In a randomized controlled trial, nonsmoking men consumed a diet that included < or = 2 servings/d of vegetables and fruit for 4 wk. The subjects were then randomly assigned to 1 of 3 groups to consume 2 servings/d, 5 servings/d, or 8 servings/d of carotenoid-rich vegetables and fruit for another 4-wk period. Plasma concentrations of vitamins C and E and carotenoids were measured. The assessment of immunologic and inflammatory markers included the number and activity of natural killer cells, secretion of cytokines, lymphocyte proliferation, and plasma C-reactive protein concentrations.
Results: The high intake (8 servings/d) of vegetables and fruit significantly increased total carotenoid concentrations in plasma compared with the low intake (2 servings/d; week 4 compared with week 8), whereas concentrations of vitamins C and E did not differ between week 4 and week 8. Immunologic markers were not significantly modulated. In contrast, C-reactive protein was significantly reduced at week 8 in the subjects who consumed 8 servings/d of vegetables and fruit compared with those who consumed 2 servings/d.
Conclusions: In healthy, well-nourished, nonsmoking men, 4 wk of low or high intakes of carotenoid-rich vegetables and fruit did not affect markers of immune function. However, a high intake of vegetables and fruit may reduce inflammatory processes, as indicated by the reduction of plasma C-reactive protein.