~ Common Vegetables Reduce Atherosclerosis In Mice

The results of a study published in the July, 2006 issue of the Journal of Nutrition demonstrated that a diet containing five commonly consumed vegetables was associated with decreased atherosclerosis in animals bred to develop the condition. Atherosclerosis describes the formation of plaque on blood vessel walls that can reduce or block blood flow to affected areas.

In research conducted at Wake Forest University School of Medicine by Michael Adams, DVM and his team, mice bred to rapidly develop atherosclerosis due to elevated low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels were administered diets in which 30 percent of the calorie content was derived from freeze-dried broccoli, carrots, corn, green beans and peas, which are among the top ten vegetables consumed in the U.S. A second group of mice were provided with diets that were vegetable-free.

After 16 weeks, the researchers measured levels of free and ester cholesterol, which accumulate as plaques develop and are used to estimate the extent of plaque deposits. They found that the mice who received vegetables in their diet had 38 percent less plaque than the control group, and had lower cholesterol levels and weights. They also had a 37 percent lower level of a marker of inflammation than the mice that received diets lacking vegetables.

"While everyone knows that eating more vegetables is supposed to be good for you, no one had shown before that it can actually inhibit the development of atherosclerosis," Dr Adams stated. "This suggests how a diet high in vegetables may help prevent heart attacks and strokes."

"It is well known that atherosclerosis progression is intimately linked with inflammation in the arteries," he added. "Our results, combined with other studies, support the idea that increased vegetable consumption inhibits atherosclerosis progression through antioxidant and anti-inflammatory pathways."

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