Richard G. Petty, MD

Another Reason to Eat Your Greens

“Health requires healthy food.”
–Roger Williams (Indian-born American Chemist who did pioneering work on the Vitamin B Complex, 1893-1988)

Earlier this year several news outlets including Time picked up a story that has been causing a great deal of discussion in medical circles.

Most of us have been extolling the virtues of fruits and vegetables for decades, but it’s always nice to have an extra piece of evidence to support what we’ve been saying. The question has been how to go from large-scale epidemiological studies proving the benefits of vegetables to the inner workings of a person’s arteries.

Investigators from Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina published an important study in the Journal of Nutrition. What they did was to study genetically altered mice, who had been bred to have a very high risk of developing rapid arteriosclerosis: the formation of fatty plaques in the arterial wall that can eventually block blood flow and lead to heart attacks and stroke.

Half the mice were fed a vegetable-free diet and half the mice were fed a diet that included broccoli, green beans, corn, peas and carrots.

After 16 weeks, the researchers measured the cholesterol content in the blood vessels and estimated that plaques in the arteries of the mice were 38% smaller. Cholesterol, and particularly the “bad” cholesterols VLDL and ILDL fell markedly in the mice on the healthy diet, but these improvements were not on their own enough to explain the improvement in the blood vessels: the anti-atherogenic effects of the vegetable diet remained largely unexplained by the variation in plasma lipoproteins or body weight.

There was a 37% reduction in serum amyloid – a marker of inflammation in mice – suggesting that consuming vegetables may inhibit inflammatory activity. This is line with data from other studies indicating that fruit and vegetables should be key components of an inflammation-lowering program. This is very important: in the last twenty years it has become very clear that arteriosclerosis is intimately associated with inflammation in the arterial wall.

Many inflammatory conditions including rheumatic fever, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus and psoriasis, are all associated with an increased risk of developing arteriosclerosis.

Interestingly some years ago Dean Ornish presented evidence indicating that diet and exercise could reverse arteriosclerosis. I’ve always found Dean’s work interesting, well done and persuasive. It surprises me to see how many people remain unconvinced. This new research provides indirect support for his work.

The average person only eats three portions of fruit and vegetables a day: we should all be eating at least five, and they should be of as many different colors and types as possible: there is excellent evidence that combinations of fruits and vegetables are much better for your health than just eating one or two types.

As an aside, I must admit that I’m no fan of animal experiments: I don’t and won’t do them. And every time that I hear about them, I think that we need to say a sincere thank you to the animal kingdom for their sacrifice in helping us.

“God, in His infinite wisdom, neglected nothing and if we would eat our food without trying to improve, change or refine it, thereby destroying its life-giving elements, it would meet all requirements of the body.”
–Jethro Kloss (American Nutritionist and Writer 1863-1943)

“In fresh fruit and vegetables and nuts are all the vitamins and minerals and high grade proteins the human body needs to bring it to a state of physical perfection and to MAINTAIN it in that state indefinitely.”
–Herbert Shelton (English Evolutionary Philosopher, 1820-1903)

“Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”
–Albert Einstein (German-born American Physicist and, in 1921, Winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics, 1879-1955)

About Richard G. Petty, MD
Dr. Richard G. Petty, MD is a world-renowned authority on the brain, and his revolutionary work on human energy systems has been acclaimed around the globe. He is also an accredited specialist in internal and metabolic medicine, endocrinology, psychiatry, acupuncture and homeopathy. He has been an innovator and leader of the human potential movement for over thirty years and is also an active researcher, teacher, writer, professional speaker and broadcaster. He is the author of five books, including the groundbreaking and best selling CD series Healing, Meaning and Purpose. He has taught in over 45 countries and 48 states in the last ten years, but spends as much time as possible on his horse farm in Georgia.

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