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1. To Protect Against Cancer
Scientists at the University of California at Santa Barbara laboratories of Leslie Wilson, professor of biochemistry and pharmacology, and Mary Ann Jordan, adjunct professor in the Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, have shown how cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower) protect against the development of cancer at the cellular level. Their research is published in this month’s journal Carcinogenesis.

These vegetables contain compounds called isothiocyanates. The researchers studied one of these compounds called sulforaphane (SFN), which interferes with the reproduction of tumour cells.
“[SFN] has already been shown to reduce the incidence and rate of chemically induced mammary tumors in animals. [In the laboratory it has been shown that it] inhibits the growth of cultured human breast cancer cells, leading to cell death.” said Olga Azarenko, one of the researchers who made the finding.

For more details you can start with the press release from UCSB.

2. To Help With Cardiovascular health
In this study 1,224 people between 55 and 80 at high risk of cardiovascular disease were studied for one year. One group received advice on a low-fat diet while two groups received quarterly education on the traditional Mediterranean diet. (This diet is characterized by a high intake of cereals, vegetables, fruits and olive oil, a moderate intake of fish and alcohol and a low intake of dairy, meats and sweets.) One of the Mediterranean diet groups was provided with 1 liter per week of virgin olive oil and the other received 30 grams per day of mixed nuts.

The participants weight did not change during the year. However, the number of individuals with large waist circumference, high triglycerides or high blood pressure significantly decreased in the Mediterranean diet plus nuts group compared with the control group.

The authors conclude, “The results of the present study show that a non–energy-restricted traditional Mediterranean diet enriched with nuts, which is high in fat, high in unsaturated fat and palatable, is a useful tool in managing the metabolic syndrome.”

3. To Assist with Recovery from Surgery

research has confirmed the beneficial effects of plants and flowers for patients recovering from abdominal surgery.

A recent study by Seong-Hyun Park and Richard H. Mattson, researchers from the Department of Horticulture, Recreation and Forestry at Kansas State University, provides strong evidence that contact with plants is directly beneficial to a hospital patient’s health.
The study, published in the October 2008 issue of HortTechnology, was conducted on 90 patients recovering from an appendectomy. Patients were randomly assigned to hospital rooms with or without plants during their postoperative recovery periods.
Patients with plants in their rooms had significantly fewer intakes of pain medication, more positive physiological responses (lower blood pressure and heart rate), less pain, anxiety, and fatigue, and better overall positive and higher satisfaction with their recovery rooms than their counterparts in the control group without plants in their rooms.
The study suggests that potted plants offer the most benefit, as opposed to cut flowers, because of their longevity. Nursing staff reported that as patients recovered, they began to show interaction with the plants, including watering, pruning, and moving them for a better view or light. A number of studies have also shown that indoor plants make air healthier and provide an optimum indoor environment by increasing humidity, and reducing the quantity of mold spores and airborne germs.
American Society for Horticultural Science (2008, December 30). Flowering Plants Speed Post-surgery Recovery. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 30, 2008, from¬ /releases/2008/12/081229104700.htm

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14 Comments to “Plants Are Good For You”

  1. Daphne says:

    Hi Evan,

    Thank goodness I like broccoli!

    I’ve also always liked having plants in the room – somehow they make me feel better. Not sure whether the effect came mainly from the plants cleansing the air, or from the psychological effect of watching something grow and thereby strengthening the connection to life at a subconscious level.

    I like your scientific approach to posts, with links to evidence and explanations. You have a new subscriber craving a knowledge boost!

  2. Evan says:

    Hi Daphne,


    This kind of post isn’t the type I do most, so I hope you don’t get disappointed.

    Thanks for your comment.

  3. Diane says:

    Hi Evan,

    Great article!

    Nutritional science is an interesting field.

  4. Evan says:

    Hi Diane,

    I do think nutritional science is fascinating. Especially the unexpected links to other aspects of ourselves.

    Thanks for your comment.

  5. Maudrey says:

    Hi Evan,

    To be completely honest, I’m not a big fan of vegetables. I have to force myself to eat them and only because I know they’re good for me. There are very few vegetables that I actually don’t mind including in my meals. I’m glad cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli are some of them.

    Thanks for the information.


  6. Evan says:

    Hi Maudrey,

    I once worked with a guy who pretty much didn’t eat vegetables at all. I mean not a one. It was quite surprising – he wasn’t in the greatest health but he wasn’t at death’s door either.

    Does it matter how they are cooked? Would a sauce make them more attractive? Or if they are cut small and distributed through other stuff?

    Above all, don’t fret about it! Stress can undo much of the benefit of a good diet. Wishing you luck with it and thanking you for your comment.

  7. Carla says:

    This is really good to read. Its nice to get nutritional beyond vitamin A, B, etc. Its amazing what real food can do for us.

  8. Evan says:

    Hi Carla,

    Welcome. I do think real good is great for us (as well as tasting fab).

    Thanks for your comment.

  9. I love fruits, vegetables and whole-grains so that’s not problem. I think if I had surgery looking at pictures of dogs would be even more potent than having a plant. Although I have read that people in nursing homes who have plants to take care of tend to be healthier and live longer.

  10. Evan says:

    There was a post I read a while ago. It said that looking at pictures of nature made little difference while looking at the real thing did. The intriguing part was that looking at moving images of nature (TV) made as little difference as a static one. So maybe live dogs (?)

  11. Man, this is relieving news. I’m always eating veggies since they’re easier to afford then meat. : )

  12. Evan says:

    It’s strange. Healthy can be both cheaper and quicker than junk food. Keep eating those vegies NP. Here’s to a long and healthy life!

  13. Diane says:

    Hi Evan,

    Hey by the way I am a plant freak!
    I love to garden! I use to sell plants and flowers!

    They are outside but I bring them in too.

    I used to always have a ton inside till I worked so much I did not care for them and we can’t have that.. So I kept them out where they thrive with many others. I have some plants that are polder than my kids….

  14. Evan says:

    Thanks for your comment Diane. Do you have particular favourites? I love orchids, my partner likes trees more than flowers.

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