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Fruits and vegetables are good for your heart
So the larger question remains: does eating fruits and vegetables that are high in flavonoids affect those clinical precursors to heart disease? Or even more simply, can eating fruits and vegetables directly affect your risk of heart disease?
Does V-8 count as a serving of vegetables?
The dietitian at my local hospital is telling the diners that a glass of V-8 juice is the equivalent of having a serving of 8 vegetables. True?
Can I substitute vitamins for vegetables in my diet?
The recommended daily allowances (given in percentiles called % Daily Values on the labeling) are a good guideline and are usually set to give people an "average" idea of how much of certain nutrients are necessary for optimal health. In this case, it is advisable that you take a multivitamin and eat as healthfully as you can also.
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Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a particularly virulent form of cancer of the lymph nodes, has been associated with DNA damage caused by free radicals in the body. Anti-oxidants are thought to reduce this risk. Previous studies that investigate the link between fruits and vegetables and the anti-oxidants they contain have been inconclusive, however.
Researchers working with the National Cancer Institute designed a study to carefully assess the possible connection between dietary factors and the risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (Am J Clin Nutr 2006; 83(6):1401-10). They recruited 1,321 persons with non-Hodgkin lymphoma through the National Cancer Institute, and as a control group also recruited 1,057 persons without non-Hodgkin lymphoma through random dialing and Medicare files.
The respondents completed questionnaires that asked about such things as medical history, cell phone use, use of hair color, their occupational history, and pesticide use. A second questionnaire assessed their dietary habits and included questions about serving sizes, how often they ate a particular food, and multivitamin use.
As you might have guessed, higher intake of vegetables meant a lower risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. It's the detailed results that are the most interesting: higher intake of green leafy (spinach, lettuce) and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cabbage) seemed to provide the greatest protection. These results held even when the researchers considered the possibility that a greater intake of vegetables might mean eating less meat and processed foods. Fruit and whole grains seemed to have no effect.
It's clear that eating vegetables is good for you. I hear a lot of people in my practice tell me that they don't like vegetables, but invariably if I start listing various vegetables, we'll find some they do like. Don't worry about which vegetables you eat--just eat some!
First posted: June 27, 2006