Every now and then we like to justify our existence by bringing you usable information in addition to helping you stuff your face with tasty bits. Here we may be able to do both, so you can feel good about what we tell you to stuff your face with. Now, let’s look at the facts.
A recent Japanese study looking at 23,119 men and 35,611 women between ages 40 and 79 who completed questionnaires about dietary habits was published in the April edition of Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association as part of the Japan Collaborative Cohort Study. The study found that both men and women may benefit from consuming foods rich in B vitamins and folate and that these foods may help reduce the risk of heart failure in men and the risk of death from stroke and heart disease in women.
The researchers followed these groups for several years and at a median of 14 years follow-up, 986 people had died from stroke, 424 from heart disease, and 2,087 from all diseases related to the cardiovascular system.
The people in the study were examined and grouped according to their intake of folate, vitamin B6 (also known as Pyridoxal, Pyridoxine or Pyridoxamine) and vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 was not found to be associated with a reduced risk of mortality. However, it was found that higher consumption of folate and B6 was associated with significantly fewer deaths from heart failure in men. In women, they detected significantly fewer deaths from stroke, heart disease, and total cardiovascular deaths. To avoid confounding variables, anyone taking supplements was eliminated from the analysis, thus the findings reflected intake from diet. The protective effects of folate and vitamin B6 did not change even when researchers made adjustments for the presence of cardiovascular factors. The researchers suggest that a diet rich in these compounds help offset dietary intake of other compounds like homocysteine, or offset genetic predispositions to disease states. While the study was performed in Japan, the researchers say their findings are consistent with studies in North America and Europe. However, they cautioned that more research is needed, especially in different populations.
The Institute of Medicine (IOM), the health arm in the U.S. of the National Academy of Sciences, recommends 1.3 to 1.7 milligrams of vitamin B6 per day, depending on age and sex. The IOM says extremely high-dose folate supplements should be avoided and recommends adult intake of 400 micrograms daily.
Natural sources of folate include vegetables, fruits, whole or enriched grains, fortified cereals, beans, and legumes. Specific examples include dark green leafy vegetables (see the recent Swiss chard recipe post), broccoli, legumes (dried beans, peas and peanuts), asparagus, oranges, avocados and strawberries. Dietary sources of vitamin B-6 include fish like salmon, vegetables such as potatoes, liver (see timely post of last week’s foie gras recipes!), meats like rabbit (see yesterday’s recipe post), turkey, chicken andwhole grains, and fortified cereals.