Whether you love to munch on veggies or you avoid them as much as possible, you’ll want to read about this latest finding — it could have you loading up on the healthy stuff. A recent study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, looked at the effects of vegetables, fruits, and antioxidant nutrients on the risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), and the findings back up the fact that you must eat your veggies!
Lymphoma, the most common form of cancer affecting the blood, has 30 subtypes, 25 of which are variants of NHL. NHL hits the body’s lymphatic system, which is an important part of your immune system. It is made up of the lymph nodes, spleen, and tissue in other organs, such as the stomach.
Basically, cancer in this system starts when “lymphocytes” — white blood cells that fight infection by producing antibodies (B-cells) or by attacking invading organisms such as bacteria (T-cells) — mutate and start to divide at an extremely rapid rate.
Lymphoma is a particularly dangerous form of cancer, as it can spread to any part of the body through the blood. Recent statistics show that approximately 332,000 Americans have NHL, with another 58,870 cases to be added to that number this year.
However, it seems that vegetables and some specific nutrients might have an important role in putting a stop to the rise of this form of cancer.
The study involved 466 adults who had been diagnosed with NHL and 391 matched control subjects without cancer. The researchers interviewed all of these people about their diet, lifestyle, and other health issues. Overall, the researchers found that the participants who ate 20-plus servings of vegetables a week had a 42% lower risk of developing NHL than those who ate eight or fewer servings a week did. That’s a significant number — 42%.
Leafy greens, such as spinach and kale, and cruciferous veggies, such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts, seemed to be the most potent when it came to NHL prevention.
“Lutein” and “zeaxanthin,” which are two antioxidant nutrients found in green vegetables, and zinc, a mineral found in protein sources such as nuts and beans, were also related to reduced NHL risk. The study subjects with the highest intakes of lutein and zeaxanthin had about half the chance of developing NHL than those with the lowest intakes did. Zinc, which also showed some promise, requires further study when it comes to lymphoma prevention.
The researchers believe that these particular vegetables and nutrients work as antioxidants, meaning that they can help protect against oxidative damage to cells that is inflicted by free radicals. It is this damage that is thought to play an important role in the genesis of cancer within the body. So, load up your plate with arugula, Swiss chard, spinach, cauliflower, bok choy, and broccoli. Getting as much of these healthy, powerfully good food sources as you can could help your body fight against a slew of diseases, including NHL.