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Have some cold vegetable soup
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 the study, funded in part by the Agricultural
Research Service, appeared in the Nov. 3, 2004, issue of the
The study was conducted by
Antonio Martin, a physician specializing in nutrition and
inflammatory responses, along with colleagues in academia and
medicine. Martin is with the
Nutrition and Neurocognition Laboratory at the
Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at
University in Boston, Mass.
The researchers fed 12 healthy
volunteers -- six men and six women -- two bowls (a total of 17
ounces) 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 14th 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 the levels 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
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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
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.
Research Service is the
U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.
Marion Bliss, public affairs specialist,