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Folate May Play Role In Reducing Heart Disease


Folate May Play Role In Reducing Heart Disease Risk, Otago University Researchers Find

New Zealand researchers have shown that increasing intake of dietary folate may play a role in cutting heart disease risk.

The research, conducted at Otago University by Dr Lyn Riddell and Prof Jim Mann shows that increasing folate intake to 600mcg daily can lower blood levels of homocysteine, which in high levels can be a risk factor for heart disease and other vascular disorders.

The study, which was published in the June issue of the prestigious American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found daily consumption of folic acid-enriched breakfast cereals or the use of folic acid supplements are effective in lowering homocysteine levels.1

The study tested three different approaches to increasing folate intake - eating folate-rich breakfast cereals OR taking folic acid supplements OR increasing consumption of other folate rich foods, such as leafy, green vegetables.

The study found that cereals that contain folate and supplements were more effective in lowering homocysteine levels than foods naturally rich in folate.

Although the New Zealand authors reported there were no clinical trials to confirm that a reduction in homocysteine levels will reduce vascular events or mortality there was widespread agreement that high homocysteine levels are an independent risk factor - as powerful as other classic risk factors such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Homocysteine is a chemical in the blood formed from amino acids. It seems to damage artery walls and cause blood clots.

This paper confirms the findings of two earlier studies which provide strong evidence that the use of folate-enriched breakfast cereals and folate supplements are the most effective means of improving folate intake and also of lowering homocysteine concentration.

In New Zealand a number of foods are enriched with folic acid including some breakfast cereals, some breads, some yeast spreads and fruit juices.

Other foods which are an excellent natural source of folate include orange juice, leafy green vegetables, cereals, wholegrain breads, legumes, lentils and fresh fruits.

Folate has also been shown to reduce the risk of neural tube defects in babies by up to 70%.


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