Stressed Out? Have Some Cold Vegetable
Soup By Rosalie
November 3, 2004
Volunteers who ate vegetables consistently for two weeks as part
of a nutrition study showed a significant increase in blood levels of vitamin C
and a decrease in key stress molecules associated with health impairment. The
findings from this study funded in part by the
Agricultural Research Service appear in
today's issue of the Journal of Nutrition.
The study was conducted by
Martin, a physician specializing in nutrition and inflammatory responses,
along with colleagues in academia and medicine. Martin is with the
Neurocognition Laboratory at the
Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at
Tufts University in Boston,
The researchers fed 12 healthy volunteers--six men and six
women--two bowls (17 ounces, total) of gazpacho every day for two weeks. The
antioxidant-rich soup was made from tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, olive
oil, onions and garlic. Blood samples for each volunteer were taken prior to
soup consumption and on the seventh and fourteenth days of the study. Starting
on the seventh day, levels of vitamin C in volunteers' blood samples were found
to have increased by 27 percent in men and 22 percent in women, and they
remained elevated for the rest of the study.
The stress molecules that were measured during the study are
secreted by the body as a normal response to stress. But continuous high blood
levels of these chemicals increase vulnerability to illness due to inflammation
and oxidative stress.
One of the stress molecules measured, uric acid, was reduced by
18 percent in the male volunteers and by 8 percent in the females. High blood
levels of uric acid, which causes gout, have been associated with an increased
risk of cardiovascular disease.
Three of the other stress molecules measured were also found to
be significantly decreased after soup consumption.
The study is one of the few examining the effects of dietary
intervention, rather than supplementation, on circulating levels of
antioxidants and inflammatory biomarkers in healthy volunteers.
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.