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Heart Disease and Antioxidants

Getting antioxidants from foods is a great part of a heart-friendly diet. You'll get plenty from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, and nuts. You'll also get fiber and great taste. That's a win-win plan.

If you're thinking about taking antioxidant supplements, that's not the same thing.

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"Vitamin or mineral supplements aren't a substitute for a balanced, nutritious diet that limits excess calories, saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, and dietary cholesterol," the American Heart Association's web site states.

In February 2014, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) issued a report stating that there is not enough evidence to show that multivitamins or mineral supplements can lower the odds of getting heart disease or cancer.

Vitamin E supplements have not been shown to have benefits against heart disease. They also haven't been shown to be risky.

Food sources of vitamin E include nuts, leafy greens, seed oils, and fortified cereals.

Beta-carotene supplements also show no benefit for heart disease. Some studies show that people who smoke or drink heavily and take beta-carotene supplements are more likely to get heart disease.

The USPSTF recommends against taking beta-carotene or vitamin E supplements for the purpose of preventing heart disease or cancer.

Remember, the recommendation only applies to supplements. Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, and seafood is linked to a smaller chance of getting heart disease or cancer, the USPSTF notes. You can get beta-carotene from fruits and vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, and tomatoes.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on August 19, 2014
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