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Fruit and vegetable intake and bones: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Although intake of fruits and vegetables seems to have a protective effect on bone metabolism, its effect on fractures remains uncertain. A systematic review and meta-analysis published in the journal PLOS looks at the role of fruit and vegetable on bone health.

A systematic review of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and cohort studies was performed. RCTs and cohort studies evaluating the combined intake of fruits and vegetables in men and women aged over 50 years were included. We considered fractures as a primary outcome measure. Changes in bone markers were considered as secondary outcomes. The search strategy included the following descriptors: fruit, vegetables, vegetable products, bone and bones, bone fractures, postmenopausal osteoporosis, and osteoporosis. PubMed, Embase, and Cochrane Library were the databases used. The appraisal of the studies was performed by two independent reviewers and agreed upon by both examiners. The data extracted from the RCTs and cohort studies were summarized separately. The risks of fractures were combined across studies using random models. Bone resorption marker (CTx) was summarized with standardized mean differences. The Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) method was used to evaluate the strength of recommendations.

Of the 1,192 studies screened, 13 articles were included in the systematic review and 10 were included in the pooled analysis (6 cohort studies and 4 RCTs). The six cohort studies included in the meta-analysis included a population of 225,062. The pooled hazard ratio (HR) (95% confidence interval (CI)) of the hip in five studies was 0.92 (0.87, 0.98). Its heterogeneity was moderate (I2 = 55.7%, p = 0.060), GRADE (⊕⊕⊕O). Two cohort studies evaluated the risk of any fracture; the HR was 0.90 (95% CI: 0.86–0.96), with aheterogeneity of 24.9% (p = 0.249, GRADE (⊕⊕⊕O)). There was no association between the bone resorption marker CTx and 3 months of fruit and vegetable intake evaluated by four RCTs, GRADE (⊕⊕O O).

There was an association between the increase of at least one serving of fruits and vegetables per day and decreases in the risk of fractures. The level of evidence for this association is moderate.

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