“Eat your fruits and vegetables.” Every nutritionist, indeed, every good mother repeats this manta often. The health benefits of fruits and vegetables are well known, lowering the risk of most of our chronic diseases- heart disease, diabetes and the diet-related cancers. But the question remains for researchers- how do fruits and vegetables go about their beneficial activities in our bodies? One way may be to decrease systemic inflammation and oxidative stress. Both of these processes are known to be integral to the slow tissue degradation that leads to both the cancers and the vascular diseases like diabetes and heart disease. So, do fruits and vegetable slow these processes down as part of how they slow cancer and heart disease? In a study recently published by Dr. Martin Root of the Department of Nutrition and Health Care Management, 1000 adults across a wide age range from the Boone area were asked a few simple questions about how often they ate fruits and vegetables. Also blood samples were taken and a number of blood measurements for inflammation and oxidative stress were made. It turned out that, while not every measurement showed the same thing, many of the blood markers were reduced in the people who ate the most combined amounts of fruits and vegetables. The advantages of this study were that it was large and used many different measurements and a wide range of normal community members. A disadvantage was that since the blood and diet was measured at the same time we cannot say from this study that the diet alone caused the improved markers; we can only say that they are inversely correlated. But the implication is there. And your mother should go right on telling you to eat your veggies.
The full article can be found online at http://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/4/1/29.