Consumption of Berries and Flavonoids in Relation to Mortality in NHANES, 1999–2014

Li Zhang, Joshua E. Muscat, Vernon M. Chinchilli, Penny M. Kris-Etherton, Laila Al-Shaar, John P. Richie

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Background: Berries are foods that are abundant in nutrients, especially flavonoids, that promote good health; however, the effects of total berries on mortality are not well characterized. Objectives: We evaluated whether intakes of total berries and specific berry types including blueberries, strawberries, cranberries, flavonoids, and subclasses of flavonoids (anthocyanidins, flavonols, flavones, flavanones, flavan-3-ols, and isoflavones) in relation to mortality risk in United States adults. Methods: A nationally representative sample of the United States adult population was obtained using data from the 1994–2014 NHANES (n = 37,232). Intake of berries was estimated using 24-h food recalls (1999–2014), and flavonoids intake was calculated using the matched USDA's expanded flavonoid database. Mortality outcomes based on 8 y of follow-up were obtained using linked death certificates. Results: Compared with nonconsumers, the multivariable-adjusted hazard ratio for all-cause mortality was 0.79 [95% confidence intervals (CI): 0.7, 0.89] for any berry consumption, 0.86 (0.75, 0.99) for strawberry consumption 0.79 (0.66, 0.95) for blueberries, and 0.69 (0.51, 0.93) for cranberries. Compared with the lower median of intake, risk of all-cause mortality for greater intake was 0.85 (0.74, 0.97) for total flavonoids, 0.85 (0.76, 0.95) for anthocyanidins, 0.9 (0.82, 0.99) for flavan-3-ols, 0.89 (0.79, 0.9) for flavanols, and 0.89 (0.8, 0.99) for flavones. There was a dose–response relationship between intakes of total flavonoids, anthocyanidins, and flavones and lower all-cause mortality risks (Ptrend < 0.05). Risk for cardiometabolic mortality was 0.75 (0.58, 0.98) for berry consumers and 0.49 (0.25, 0.98) for cranberry consumers. For respiratory disease mortality, risk was 0.41 (0.2, 0.86), compared with blueberry nonconsumers. Conclusion: Higher intakes of berries and flavonoids were associated with a lower overall mortality risk in adult Americans. Few adults regularly consume berries, indicating that increased intake of berries and flavonoid-rich foods may be beneficial to health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)734-743
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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