June 19, 2006
Mice Accumulate Less Cholesterol On Vegetable Diet

If you don't eat your veggies you are cruising for a heart attack bruising.

New research suggests one reason vegetables may be so good for us – a study in mice found that a mixture of five common vegetables reduced hardening of the arteries by 38 percent compared to animals eating a non-vegetable diet. Conducted by Wake Forest University School of Medicine, the research is reported in the current issue of the Journal of Nutrition.

“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,” said Michael Adams, D.V.M., lead researcher. “This suggests how a diet high in vegetables may help prevent heart attacks and strokes.”

The study used specially bred mice that rapidly develop atherosclerosis, the formation on blood vessel walls of fatty plaques that eventually protrude into the vessel’s opening and can reduce blood flow. The mice have elevated low-density lipoprotein ( LDL), or “bad” cholesterol, which is also a risk factor for atherosclerosis in humans.

Half of the mice in the study were fed a vegetable-free diet and half got 30 percent of their calories from a mixture of freeze-dried broccoli, green beans, corn, peas and carrots. These five vegetables are among the top-10 vegetables in the United States based on frequency of consumption.

After 16 weeks, the researchers measured two forms of cholesterol to estimate the extent of atherosclerosis. In mice that were fed the vegetable diet, researchers found that plaques in the vessel were 38 percent smaller than those in the mice fed vegetable-free diets. There were also modest improvements in body weight and cholesterol levels in the blood.

The estimates of atherosclerosis extent involved measuring free and ester cholesterol, two forms that accumulate in plaques as they develop. The rate of this accumulation has been found to be highly predictive of the actual amount of plaque present in the vessels.

Most people do not eat an optimal amount of vegetables. Another report providing yet more evidence on the benefits of vegetables won't cause many to alter their diets. Maybe what we need is some sort of Pop-Tart that is mostly vegetables but with flavoring designed to hide the vegetable taste.

Veggies reduce inflammation.

He said that a 37 percent reduction in a certain marker of inflammation in mice suggests that vegetable consumption may inhibit inflammatory activity.

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

Since mouse studies can be done more rapidly and cheaply than human studies I'd love to see this study repeated with different vegetables diluted with conventional mouse chow to see which veggies are most potent. Potent veggies could be used in smaller doses in veggie Pop-Tarts. High potency veggie Pop-Tarts are our only hope.

We need high potency veggie Pop-Tarts to buy us some extra time while we wait for the development of SENS technologies.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2006 June 19 09:40 PM  Aging Diet Studies

Patrick said at June 20, 2006 2:35 AM:

I blame our mothers. Until I got married I never saw a vegetable that was cooked to be anything other than tasteless and bland. Fortunately I married a girl from a Chinese restaurant who can make even broccoli and brussel sprouts seem interesting. (The secret is to fry them with bacon.)

Antinomy said at June 20, 2006 7:02 AM:

For most of my life I wasn't a vegetable eater, but a few years ago I found out that a little soy sauce makes them much more palatable. Of course, soy sauce, being high in sodium has problems of its own, but in my case I think it is a good tradeoff.

hamerhokie said at June 20, 2006 9:10 AM:

Corn's not a veggie - it's a grain.

CASpears said at June 20, 2006 12:50 PM:

I don't know, I always wonder about articles like this that claim an ideal diet for "people". I do not think there is a such thing.

For instance, Japanese people have one of the longest life spans in the world but consume a hell of a lot of sodium, mainly from soy based products. British people (from what I recently read) have a poorer diet than Americans (more fat and cholestoral) but tend to be more fit than the average American at the same age.

I think some of the reason for this is genetic. For instance, in japan, the people who were sodium sensative died off a long time ago due to natural selection (well most of them). I have also seen Turkish people consume large amounts of salt.

There is also a theory that many black American have such problems with heart disease and diabetes due to diet but also slavery. West Africans do not tend to get heart disease or a lot of chronic diseases at as high a rate as black Americans (who are about 80% West African)...the reason is probably difference is diet, but also likely due to slavery. Slaves crossing the Atlantic, crossed in horrible conditions. They received substandard food and were prone to develope disease, those that did were thrown overboard (because they were an economic liability and could not be sold). This being the case, the ones who could store the most fat, sodium (remember a certain amount is very necessary for your body), etc lived, and did not developed disease as fast from lack of nutrician. Their decendents survived and reproduced here in the U.S...but what happens when centuries later they eat the same diet as Europeans Americans (or worse)...well...the result could be storing too much fat, cholestoral, and sodium causing chronic illness.

Anyway I take all this with a grain of salt, because I think the perfect diet for my neighbor might not be the perfect one to me due to genetics.

Engineer-Poet said at June 21, 2006 7:02 PM:

If people aren't smart enough to eat their vegetables, do we want to keep them alive just to wait for SENS?  I'm not sure we should try to defeat such self-selection.

CASpears said at June 21, 2006 9:31 PM:

Sometimes people can't afford or have no access to fresh vegetables...even in the United States. Ever been to the ghetto? Try finding some fresh broccoli that is not canned (basically salted, which is bad too).

Doug said at June 21, 2006 11:56 PM:

Ahem! The high-potency veggie Pop Tart already exists. It's called the Life Extension Mix, and it's available from the Life Extension Foundation at http://www.lef.org. The Mix is available as powder, capsules, and tablets. Besides containing vitamins, minerals, and some other nutrients, it contains flavonoids and other plant substances concentrated from fruits and vegetables, and also from plants we're accustomed to speaking of as "herbs" and "spices," rather than as "vegetables."

Bob Badour said at June 22, 2006 4:24 AM:


That don't sound like no pop tart to me. How do you put a powder, capsule or tablet in the toaster? What have they done to it to make it taste like a frosted pastry with tasty stuff?

Rob said at June 22, 2006 4:51 AM:

What tastes bitter in vegatables? Is it just a few compounds that could be bred or engineered out? Maybe we could design a mouthwash or somesuch that raised the bitter threshold.

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