VOLUME 22 #1

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Here's another reason to eat your veggies


RESEARCH | Most people know that high cholesterol levels increase their risk for cardiovascular disease, but attention has recently turned to another chemical in the body, C-reactive protein, that may be an even better predictor of heart attack and stroke risk.

Produced in the liver and measured through a blood test, C-reactive protein, or CRP, is a marker for inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation has been linked with cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Now, the results of a study led by Marie Kuczmarski, professor of behavioral health and nutrition, indicate that what people eat can directly affect their levels of CRP. The research used data from the National Institute on Aging’s HANDLS (Healthy Aging in Neighborhoods of Diversity across the Lifespan) study, which examines how race, gender and socioeconomic status influence age-related health disparities.

“We found an inverse relationship between diet quality and CRP levels in low-income adults,” Kuczmarski says. “The lower the quality of the diet, the higher the levels of CRP.”

Experts can advise people to eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, “but it’s important to develop interventions that are easy to implement and that take into account the current diet of the specific population,” she says.

“Tweaks to the diet may go a long way toward reducing the high risk of obesity and disease that are associated with lower socioeconomic status.”