Men may be able to lower their risk of atherosclerosis by increasing their intake of various antioxidants.
Men with high levels of carotenoids in their blood may benefit from delayed progression of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and ultimately a reduced risk of heart attack, new research has shown.
Carotenoids are colourful pigments that are found in plants such as carrots, spinach, kale, peppers and tomatoes, and that have powerful antioxidant properties inside the body.
Researchers at the University of Eastern Finland and Lapland Central Hospital conducted a study to see whether high levels of carotenoids in the blood were associated with reduced progression of early atherosclerosis in the walls of the carotid artery.
A total of 840 middle-aged men (aged 46 to 65 years) took part in the study, with ultrasound tests performed on their carotid arteries at the start of the study and again seven years later.
This enabled the researchers to measure any changes in the thickness of their artery walls - a sign of atherosclerotic progression.
Blood samples were also analysed to assess the men's levels of carotenoids.
Analysis revealed that men with high levels of carotenoids tended to have less progression of atherosclerosis over the seven-year period.
In particular, high levels of lycopene - which is found in tomatoes - alpha-carotene and beta-carotene were associated with smaller changes in the thickness of men's artery walls.
The trend was still apparent after factors such as age, body mass index, blood pressure, smoking status, exercise levels, cholesterol and a family history of heart disease had been taken into account.
Publishing their findings in the journal PLoS One, the study authors concluded: "The present study shows that high serum concentrations of carotenoids may be protective against early atherosclerosis."
As well as from dietary sources, carotenoids can be obtained by using a high-quality antioxidant complex, such as AlphaGuard Plus.
Supplied by The Really Healthy Company, this full-spectrum food supplement is unique in the breadth of its ingredients, including both lycopene and beta-carotene.
These are just two of many beneficial antioxidant nutrients and complexes that are included in AlphaGuard Plus, however, as the supplement also contains extracts such as grape seed, bioavailable curcumin, quercetin and green tea.
By taking a daily dose of this superlative supplement, men can greatly boost their intake of antioxidants and thus support their cardiovascular health.