Background: Despite the promising findings from short-term intervention trials, the long-term effect of habitual fruit and vegetable intake on blood pressure (BP) remains uncertain. We therefore assessed the prospective association between baseline intake of fruits and vegetables and the risk of hypertension in a large cohort of middle-aged and older women.
Methods: We conducted analyses among 28,082 US female health professionals aged ≥39 years, free of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and hypertension at baseline. Baseline intake of fruits and vegetables was assessed using semiquantitative food frequency questionnaires (FFQs). Incident hypertension was identified from annual follow-up questionnaires.
Results: During 12.9 years of follow-up, 13,633 women developed incident hypertension. After basic adjustment including age, race, and total energy intake, the hazard ratio (HR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) of hypertension was 0.97 (0.89-1.05), 0.93 (0.85-1.01), 0.89 (0.82-0.97), and 0.86 (0.78-0.94) comparing women who consumed 2- <4, 4- <6, 6- <8, and ≥8 servings/day of total fruits and vegetables with those consuming <2 servings/day. These associations did not change after additionally adjusting for lifestyle factors but were attenuated after further adjustment for other dietary factors. When fruits and vegetables were analyzed separately, higher intake of all fruits but not all vegetables remained significantly associated with reduced risk of hypertension after adjustment for lifestyle and dietary factors. Adding body mass index (BMI) to the models eliminated all associations.
Conclusions: Higher intake of fruits and vegetables, as part of a healthy dietary pattern, may only contribute a modest beneficial effect to hypertension prevention, possibly through improvement in body weight regulation.