British Journal of Nutrition

Dietary Surveys and Nutritional Epidemiology

Colours of fruit and vegetables and 10-year incidence of CHD

Linda M. Oude Griepa1 c1, W. M. Monique Verschurena2, Daan Kromhouta1, Marga C. Ockéa2 and Johanna M. Geleijnsea1

a1 Division of Human Nutrition, Wageningen University, PO Box 8129, 6700 EV Wageningen, The Netherlands

a2 National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, PO Box 1, 3720 BA Bilthoven, The Netherlands


The colours of the edible part of fruit and vegetables indicate the presence of specific micronutrients and phytochemicals. The extent to which fruit and vegetable colour groups contribute to CHD protection is unknown. We therefore examined the associations between fruit and vegetables of different colours and their subgroups and 10-year CHD incidence. We used data from a prospective population-based cohort including 20 069 men and women aged 20–65 years who were enrolled between 1993 and 1997. Participants were free of CVD at baseline and completed a validated 178-item FFQ. Hazard ratios (HR) for the association between green, orange/yellow, red/purple, white fruit and vegetables and their subgroups with CHD were calculated using multivariable Cox proportional hazards models. During 10 years of follow-up, 245 incident cases of CHD were documented. For each 25 g/d increase in the intake of the sum of all four colours of fruit and vegetables, a borderline significant association with incident CHD was found (HR 0·98; 95 % CI 0·97, 1·01). No clear associations were found for the colour groups separately. However, each 25 g/d increase in the intake of deep orange fruit and vegetables was inversely associated with CHD (HR 0·74; 95 % CI 0·55, 1·00). Carrots, their largest contributor (60 %), were associated with a 32 % lower risk of CHD (HR 0·68; 95 % CI 0·48, 0·98). In conclusion, though no clear associations were found for the four colour groups with CHD, a higher intake of deep orange fruit and vegetables and especially carrots may protect against CHD.

(Received October 29 2010)

(Revised February 21 2011)

(Accepted March 14 2011)

(Online publication June 08 2011)


c1 Corresponding author: L. M. Oude Griep, fax +31 317 483342, email


Abbreviations: AMI, acute myocardial infarction; HR, hazard ratio