If you love your arteries, eat your vegetables.
So say researchers who found that mice fed a vegetable-rich diet cut their risk for atherosclerosis -- hardening of the arteries -- by 38 percent.
"There is some epidemiological evidence that people who eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, probably more than five servings a day, have a lower risk of coronary heart disease than people who don't," added led researcher Michael Adams, a professor of pathology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, N.C.
However, "there are a lot of problems with epidemiological [population-based] studies, a lot of factors that can't be controlled for," he said. For instance, "those who eat a lot of fruits and vegetables are healthier in other ways," such as exercising more, he said, reports Forbes.
Researchers looked at the effects of a 30-percent vegetable diet compared to a non-vegetable diet in a group of mice bred to quickly develop atherosclerosis, the formation of plague on blood vessel walls that causes decreased blow flow.
"Although the pathways involved remain uncertain, the results indicate that a diet rich in green and yellow vegetables inhibits the development of hardening of the arteries and may reduce the risk of heart disease," said head researcher Michael Adams, D.V.M.
Data also revealed the mice on the vegetable diet had a 37-percent decrease in an indicator of inflammation, which is connected to atherosclerosis development.
Adams noted, "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." He added, "This suggests how a diet high in vegetables may help prevent heart attacks and strokes," informs Ivanhoe.