The study included 212 people with heart failure who were 61 years old, on average. They were asked to keep a food diary for four days, and their diary entries were verified by a nutritionist. Researchers analyzed vitamin C intake using a computer program. The study participants were also asked to take a blood test to measure their hsCRP levels. An hsCRP level greater than 3 milligrams per liter of blood was considered elevated, the researchers said.
Vitamin C, a potent antioxidant, may help cool inflammation in the body, while a lack of the nutrient may allow inflammation levels to go unchecked, study author Grace Song, an assistant professor in the department of nursing at the University of Ulsan in Korea, told reporters at the meeting.
Vitamin C is plentiful in many healthful fruits and vegetables, including bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, lemon juice, oranges, papaya, and strawberries. Studies have shown that adding supplements of vitamin C or other antioxidants does not improve outcomes in people being treated for heart failure, said American Heart Association President Dr. Gordon F. Tomaselli.
But people who eat diets rich in vitamin C foods may be healthier than those who don't, said Tomaselli, chief of cardiology at Johns Hopkins University. "Vitamin C in the diet may be a marker of a healthy lifestyle," he said.
Dr. Clyde W. Yancy, chief of cardiology at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, urged caution before jumping to any conclusions about vitamin C, however. "There is a benefit to a heart-healthy lifestyle, but it is not clear if vitamin C is independently associated with better outcomes among people with heart failure," he said.
Yancy agreed with Tomaselli that eating a diet rich in vitamin C may help contribute to healthy lifestyle, which includes better adherence to heart-failure treatment regimens.
Research presented at medical meetings should be considered preliminary until it has been published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Get the facts on metabolic syndrome by visiting the American Heart Association.
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