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Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan shows link in pollution, heart disease via carrots


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NEW DELHI: Unfazed by criticism on social media after extolling the virtues of carrots for fighting an air pollution emergency, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Monday reiterated on the scientific basis of the link drawn between pollution and heart disease and how anti-oxidants like carrots can prevent a coronary condition.

In a tweet, the Minister gave out remedies for the elevated air pollution levels in the Delhi-National Capital Region (NCR).

"Oxidative stress triggered by various pollutants has serious negative effects on human health. One positive action is to include food items with a high level of antioxidants that can neutralise this. Of course, the solution lies in exposure prevention and control".

The tweet was accompanied by a message from the Health Ministry, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and a picture of vegetables including carrots, spinach, capsicum, among others.

This came in for criticism on social media that the idea was simplistic, or that the situation was aggravated.

Not fazed by the chatter, Vardhan expounded on the scientific basis of the argument.

"The main thing to do is to increase your levels of Antioxidants & decrease your formation of free radicals. One method of preventing oxidative stress is to ensure that you're obtaining enough antioxidants in your diet through Broccoli, Carrots, Spinach Red cabbage, Red peppers, etc", he said in a tweet.

These are high in fibers, carotenoids, vitamins C and E, phenolics such as p-coumaric, chlorogenic & caffeic acids. Food containing phenolic compounds is found to decrease the risk of vascular diseases, he added.

"In the Lipid Research Clinics Coronary Primary Prevention Trial (LRC-CPPT), men were tracked over 13 yrs & results revealed that those with highest plasma carotenoid levels present in veggies with carotenoids and antioxidants had a lower risk of coronary heart disease", he said in a series of tweets.

"The mechanisms of air pollution-induced health effects involve oxidative stress and inflammation. Inflammation has been shown to be a strong predictor of CVD and serum I-carotene inversely correlates with C-reactive protein and interleukin-6", the Minister said.

"In a 12-year follow-up of the Prospective Basel Study, Eicholzer and colleagues found that the risk of ischemic heart disease is increased by 1.53 Relative Risk in those with the lowest plasma carotene concentrations", he added, explaining the scientific link between pollution and heart disease.

(THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)