Dietary antioxidants and plasma lipids: the CARDIA Study

J Am Coll Nutr. 1995 Dec;14(6):635-42. doi: 10.1080/07315724.1995.10718553.


Objective: To determine if dietary antioxidants play a role in preventing coronary heart disease (CHD) by having an impact on lipid levels.

Methods: Data from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study were used to assess the associations of reported intake of vitamins A, C, E and beta carotene, and their use in supplements, with lipid levels in a black and white, healthy adult (18 to 30 years of age at the baseline examination) population.

Results: After adjusting for age, education level, physical activity, body size, alcohol consumption and caloric intake, vitamin A, beta carotene, and vitamin C (white women) intake were directly associated with HDL-cholesterol levels among women who smoked cigarettes, with the strongest associations being observed for white women. Black men who took supplements of vitamins A and C and did not smoke cigarettes had significantly higher HDL-cholesterol levels compared to those in the lowest levels of dietary intake. Although vitamin E was associated with higher levels of HDL-cholesterol, the association was only of borderline significance among white men who smoked cigarettes (p = 0.06). We did not observe any consistent associations between antioxidants and other plasma lipids, including total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, or triglycerides.

Conclusions: We conclude that dietary antioxidants are associated with HDL-cholesterol levels in some subsets of the population, although these associations may be operating in conjunction with other lifestyle behaviors.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antioxidants / administration & dosage*
  • Ascorbic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Black or African American
  • Carotenoids / administration & dosage
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood
  • Diet*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lipids / blood*
  • Male
  • Smoking
  • Vitamin A / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin E / administration & dosage
  • White People
  • beta Carotene


  • Antioxidants
  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Lipids
  • beta Carotene
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin E
  • Carotenoids
  • Ascorbic Acid