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Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2010 Jul;20(6):459-66. doi: 10.1016/j.numecd.2010.01.011. Epub 2010 Jun 2.

Nutritional recommendations for preventing coronary heart disease in women: evidence concerning whole foods and supplements.

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MedStar Research Institute, 6495 New Hampshire Ave., Suite 201, Hyattsville, MD 20783, USA.



Some food groups and supplements have been recommended for preventing coronary heart disease (CHD) in women. In this article, evidence on recommendations for some of these food groups (whole grains, fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, and soy) and supplements (phytosterols, antioxidants, folic acid, and B-complex vitamins) is reviewed. Additionally, gender differences in nutritional requirements and recommendations are described.


Studies of nutrition in women and those emphasizing gender differences in nutritional requirements were selected for this review.


Observational data support the benefit of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains in CHD prevention. Trial data provide support for consuming fish at least twice a week, although women of childbearing age should limit their intake of fish that may contain high levels of mercury. Nuts are nutritious snacks but their caloric impact must be considered. Soy products do not affect low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) or CHD but may be beneficial in replacing high-fat meat. Foods supplemented with plant stanol/sterol-esters are recommended for reducing LDL-C. Antioxidant supplementation is not recommended for prevention of heart disease. A direct causal relationship between vitamin D deficiency and CHD has not been established. Homocysteine lowering through folic acid and B-complex vitamin supplementation has not been proven to improve CHD risk. More gender-specific analyses are needed to determine whether nutritional requirements differ between men and women.

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