Eating vegetables alone ‘isn’t enough’ to reduce heart risk: study
Not according to researchers from the Nuffield Department of Population Health at the University of Oxford, the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the University of Bristol.
They studied 399,586 participants through the UK Biobank, which tracks the health of half a million adults in the UK by linking to their health records. After enrolling in 2006-2010, these volunteers were followed over the next 12 years regarding their diet, lifestyle, medical and reproductive history, and other factors.
On average, people reported eating two heaping tablespoons of raw vegetables, three of cooked vegetables, and five total per day.
The study found that the risk of dying from CVD was about 15% lower for those who ate the most compared to those who ate the least vegetables.
However, this apparent effect was significantly attenuated when possible socioeconomic, nutritional, and health and medical confounders were taken into account.
Controlling for these factors reduced the predictive statistical power of vegetable consumption on CVD by more than 80%, suggesting that more precise measures of these confounders would have completely explained any residual effect of vegetable consumption.
“In this study of 0.4 million middle-aged adults with a 12-year follow-up, higher intakes of raw but uncooked vegetables were associated with lower CVD risk,”the study concluded. “However, given the large reductions in the predictive values of raw vegetable intake after adjusting for socioeconomic and lifestyle factors, residual confounding is likely to explain many, if not all, of the associations remaining.”
Dr Qi Feng, a researcher at the Nuffield Department of Population Health at the University of Oxford and lead author of the study, said: “Our large study found no evidence of a protective effect of vegetable consumption on the occurrence of cardiovascular disease. Instead, our analyzes show that the apparently protective effect of vegetable consumption against the risk of CVD is most likely explained through residual confounders, related to differences in socioeconomic status and lifestyle.
He suggested that future studies should further assess whether particular types of vegetables or their method of preparation might affect CVD risk.
Dr Ben Lacey, associate professor in the department at Oxford University, concluded: “This is an important study that has implications for understanding the dietary causes of cardiovascular disease and the burden of cardiovascular disease normally attributed to low vegetable intake. However, eating a balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight are still important for maintaining good health and reducing the risk of major diseases, including certain cancers. It is widely recommended to eat at least five servings of a variety of fruits and vegetables each day.
Positive Nutrition 2022: healthy innovation for the mass market
Back on demand, FoodNavigator 2022 Positive NutritionThe interactive broadcast event prepares to showcase R&D strategies for food formulators to meet the demand for better-for-you brands.
FoodNavigator’s global teams will explore how positive nutrition can be brought to the mass market in accessible, affordable and engaging formats.
Airing for consecutive weeks in March, our interactive digital series will address three key themes:
- Unlocking plant potential (March 16)– We’ll examine the nutritional challenges and opportunities of plant-based products and ask what new ingredients and technologies will drive the next wave of healthy plant-based innovations.
- Gut Health and Immunity (March 23)– In a near-post-pandemic world, gut health and immunity are at the forefront. How are food and beverage manufacturers meeting the growing demand for immunity-boosting vitamins, minerals and micronutrients?
- Reformulation, fortification and clean label (March 30)– Fortification offers the opportunity to improve the nutritional profile of everyday food and beverage formats, while reformulation is becoming a pressing need in the face of an increasingly stringent regulatory landscape. How does the industry achieve these often complementary goals while providing consumers with the clean, lean labels they want?
This not-to-be-missed event will bring together thought leaders in space. We will hear contributions from big brand players like Cereal Partners Worldwide (Nestlé/General Mills JV) and Birds Eye (Nomad Foods), alongside innovative start-ups like Heura, Biotiful and Pep & Lekker and experts in nutrition and trends such as Tastewise, BENEO and the future bridge.