Just eating more vegetables does not cut risk of cardiovascular disease

Doctors and researchers are advising people that adding more vegetables to their diet will not cut the risk of suffering from a stroke or developing heart disease .

New research, by  the universities of Oxford and Bristol and the Chinese University of Hong Kong, found it is a common misconception that by eating more vegetables alone, an individual can lower their risk of cardiovascular and circulatory diseases, when in fact a balanced diet is more important.

Overall diet is key to preventing disease

The study, which looked at the eating habits of over 400,000 people, found that while many reported eating lots of raw and cooked vegetables, it did not necessarily reduce their risk of developing diseases.

Though the research stated that: “Models [used in the study] were adjusted by age (<50, 50–60, ≥ 60 years), sex, ethnicity, and region, and adjusted for educational attainment, Townsend deprivation index (continuous), hypertension, diabetes, physical activity level, smoking, alcohol consumption, BMI (continuous), use of mineral supplements, use of vitamin supplements, aspirin/ibuprofen, antihypertensive drugs, statins, insulin treatment, intake of fresh fruits, red meat, processed meat, oily fish, and non-oily fish.”

The researchers concluded that those who eat raw vegetables often were more likely to have better overall diets and health behaviours.

Raw vegetables better for health than cooked

But, the research found that although the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease was around 15% lower for those eating the most vegetables - particularly those eating lots of raw veg - compared with those eating the least, the researchers said this could all be explained by other factors.

The study confirmed that raw vegetables on the whole seem to be more nutritionally valuable, with fibre, micronutrient and vitamin retention affected when they are cooked.

In addition, the researchers stated that often cooked vegetables were prepared using seasoning and oils, increasing intake of sodium and fat, which are known risk factors for cardiovascular disease incidence and mortality

Doctors and researchers say that what else we eat, how much exercise we do and where and how we live may have more of an impact on whether an individual will develop cardiovascular disease.

Eating at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day is recommended by health advisers, including the NHS.

CABI nutrition and food sciences internet resource has over 6,000 records on vegetable consumption and/or a vegetable-based diet and cardiovascular disease, using search (vegetable* or vegetarian or vegan ) and (cardiovascular or heart).

Reference:

Feng Qi, Kim Jean H., Omiyale Wemimo, Bešević Jelena, Conroy Megan, May Margaret, Yang Zuyao, Wong Samuel Yeung-shan, Tsoi Kelvin Kam-fai, Allen Naomi, Lacey Ben (2022) Raw and Cooked Vegetable Consumption and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease: A Study of 400,000 Adults in UK Biobank . Frontiers in Nutrition 9 22 https://www.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fnut.2022.831470