Elevated blood levels of homocysteine are associated with an increased risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. Although numerous studies have assessed the impact of vitamin supplements on homocysteine, the effect of dietary patterns on homocysteine has not been well studied.
During a 3-week run-in, 118 participants were fed a control diet, low in fruits, vegetables, and dairy products, with a fat content typical of US consumption. During an 8-week intervention phase, participants were then fed 1 of 3 randomly assigned diets: the control diet, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables but otherwise similar to control, or a combination diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products and reduced in saturated and total fat. Between the end of run-in and intervention periods, mean change in homocysteine was +0.46 micromol/L in the control diet, +0.21 micromol/L in the fruits and vegetables diet (P=0.47 compared with control), and -0.34 micromol/L in the combination diet (P=0.03 compared with control, P=0.12 compared with the fruits and vegetables diet). In multivariable regression models, change in homocysteine was significantly and inversely associated with change in serum folate (P=0.03) but not with change in serum vitamin B(12) (P=0.64) or pyridoxal 5' phosphate, the coenzyme form of vitamin B(6) (P=0.83).
Modification of dietary patterns can have substantial effects on fasting levels of total serum homocysteine. These results provide additional insights into the mechanisms by which diet might influence the occurrence of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.