Background: Although increased fruit intake reduces cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk, which fruits are most beneficial and what key constituents are responsible are unclear. Habitual intakes of flavonoids, specifically anthocyanins and flavanones, in which >90% of habitual intake is derived from fruit, are associated with decreased CVD risk in women, but associations in men are largely unknown.
Objective: We examined the relation between habitual anthocyanin and flavanone intake and coronary artery disease and stroke in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study.
Design: We followed 43,880 healthy men who had no prior diagnosed CVD or cancer. Flavonoid intake was calculated with the use of validated food-frequency questionnaires.
Results: During 24 y of follow-up, 4046 myocardial infarction (MI) and 1572 stroke cases were confirmed by medical records. Although higher anthocyanin intake was not associated with total or fatal MI risk, after multivariate adjustment an inverse association with nonfatal MI was observed (HR: 0.87; 95% CI: 0.75, 1.00; P = 0.04; P-trend = 0.098); this association was stronger in normotensive participants (HR: 0.81; 95% CI: 0.69, 0.96; P-interaction = 0.03). Anthocyanin intake was not associated with stroke risk. Although flavanone intake was not associated with MI or total stroke risk, higher intake was associated with a lower risk of ischemic stroke (HR: 0.78; 95% CI: 0.62, 0.97; P = 0.03, P-trend = 0.059), with the greatest magnitude in participants aged ≥65 y (P-interaction = 0.04).
Conclusions: Higher intakes of fruit-based flavonoids were associated with a lower risk of nonfatal MI and ischemic stroke in men. Mechanistic studies and clinical trials are needed to unravel the differential benefits of anthocyanin- and flavanone-rich foods on cardiovascular health.
Keywords: anthocyanins; flavanones; flavonoids; heart disease; men; stroke.