It’s a constant refrain from parents: eat your vegetables if you want to grow up strong and healthy! But a new study strongly suggests that eating vegetables actually makes little difference in respect of the world’s biggest killer: heart disease.
Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are the leading cause of death worldwide, causing an estimated 17.9 million deaths a year.
An international team of researchers from the United Kingdom and China examined almost 400,000 people, considering the link between consuming cooked and raw vegetables and the risk of heart problems.
After taking into account socio-economic and lifestyle factors, the team found there was little evidence that eating more vegetables keeps the heart healthy. Even so, they still recommend eating five portions of fruit and veg a day.
Vegetables: no difference to heart disease risk
Before the study, scientists generally believed that nutrients in vegetables, such as carotenoids and alpha-tocopherol, played a role in protecting the body against CVD. However, evidence also suggested that this might not actually be the case.
To investigate the matter, the team used data from the UK Biobank, a database which tracks the health and dieting habits of half a million people across Britain. Researchers examined the diet, lifestyle, medical, and reproductive history of just under 400,000 participants who enrolled between 2006 and 2010. Just under five percent of these people went on to develop heart disease.
The researchers looked especially at the amounts of uncooked and cooked vegetables each person ate daily, and then compared these amounts to their risk of death or hospitalization from a heart attack, stroke, or heart failure.
On average, participants ate around five tablespoons of total vegetables each day, or 2.3 tablespoons of raw vegetables and 2.8 of cooked vegetables.
At first, the researchers found that the risk of CVD dropped by 15 percent among people eating the largest number of vegetables each day.
New water in old bottles? Don’t drink it!
If you’re drinking water from reusable plastic bottles, you may want to think again about your choice of vessel. Researchers from the University of Copenhagen discovered hundreds of chemicals in tap water that was being stored in reusable soft plastic bottles.
Many of the chemicals are known to have harmful effects, including endocrine-disrupting substances, and the researchers were also shocked to discover substances that had never before been found in plastic.
Here at Herculean Strength, as part of our regular updates on how to protect yourself against the chemical assault of the modern world, we’ve already cautioned you to reduce your reliance on plastic, and this new research is further compelling evidence why you should do so.
In the new study, published in the Journal of Hazardous Materials, researchers from the University of Copenhagen investigated levels of chemical migration into water stored for 24 hours in new bottles, used bottles and bottles washed in the dishwasher.
The researchers discovered more than 400 plastic-related compounds in the water, as well as more than 3500 dishwasher related compounds in the water stored in bottles that had been through the dishwasher.
Click here to read more about this shocking study
However, this benefit evaporated once the scientists factored in each person’s socio-economic, nutritional, and health-related information.
Once these factors had been controlled for, the effects of eating vegetables on heart disease risk fell by over 80 percent.
What’s more, the team believes that if they are able to control for even more “residual confounding” factors, that benefit would disappear completely.
“Our large study did not find evidence for a protective effect of vegetable intake on the occurrence of CVD. Instead, our analyses show that the seemingly protective effect of vegetable intake against CVD risk is very likely to be accounted for by bias from residual confounding factors, related to differences in socioeconomic situation and lifestyle,” says lead author Dr. Qi Feng, a researcher at the Nuffield Department of Population Health at the University of Oxford, in a media release.
“This is an important study with implications for understanding the dietary causes of CVD and the burden of CVD normally attributed to low vegetable intake. However, eating a balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight remains an important part of maintaining good health and reducing risk of major diseases, including some cancers. It is widely recommended that at least five portions of a variety of fruits and vegetables should be eaten every day,” adds co-author Dr. Ben Lacey.
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