Raw and processed fruit and vegetable consumption and 10-year stroke incidence in a population-based cohort study in the Netherlands.

Frequent consumption of raw fruits and vegetables may significantly cut down an individual's risk of suffering from ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke.

The objective of this study was to determine the relationship between high dietary ingestion of processed and raw vegetables and fruits and the incidence of stroke among Dutch men and women. A team of researchers looked at the dietary data of 20,069 cardiovascular disease-free Dutch men and women between the ages of 20-65 years and also examined the total, ischemic, and hemorrhagic stroke hazard ratios of all the subjects.

Researchers observed that subjects who regularly consumed raw fruits and vegetables had less chance of developing ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke respectively. According to this study, a 30% reduction in the risk of total stroke was associated with generous consumption of raw fruits and vegetables. On the other hand, high dietary intake of processed fruits and vegetables was found to have no significant effect on total, hemorrhagic, and ischemic stroke risk in this study. The results of this study support the hypothesis that a substantial reduction in the incidence of stroke can be achieved through progressive increase in the raw fruit and vegetable consumption rates of the general population.

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  1. Marky Yvanovich

The comparison being made in this study is somewhat flawed. It kind of boils down to a comparison of Apples and Orange Juice. On the processed fruits and veggies side, 71% of the total consumed was fruit (citrus & apple) juice. I don't think this is a fair comparison of equivalent nutrition. Since they lumped in cooked veggies into the processed fruits and vegetables group, it makes it sound like cooked whole foods are vastly inferior. In fact, since it is generally easier to consume larger quantities of cooked vegetables than raw, you might end up with more nutrition per meal (and, of course, more calories). An interesting study, but not enough to make me consider converting to mostly raw fruits and veggies (I do already eat a lot fresh fruit and salads every day).

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  1. Sean Carney

Marky,

That is a really appreciated observation and comment. These type of interactions do add value. So, thanks for reading it and sharing your thoughts.

I agree with you that cooked vegetables and fruits should not be classified as 'processed' foods and are also not nutritionally inferior, and in fact can be superior. So, this particular sentence from the study does appear flawed:

Processed vegetables comprised home-cooked vegetables including canned and frozen vegetables and tomato sauce

What they are describing as processed we would consider whole food plant based. I agree with them in considering juices processed though because the fiber has been modified. It is not a highly processed food but it is on it's way...

If this study had been talking about true food processing then the difference between the 'raw' fruits and vegetables and the 'processed' would probably have been hugely significant. But, I would also expect similar results if they were comparing whole food plant based cooked fruits and vegetables with truly processed fruits and vegetables like potato chips, french fries. kale chips, instant potatoes, soy isolates, etc...

Thanks again for your observations.
...

Marky,

That is a really appreciated observation and comment. These type of interactions do add value. So, thanks for reading it and sharing your thoughts.

I agree with you that cooked vegetables and fruits should not be classified as 'processed' foods and are also not nutritionally inferior, and in fact can be superior. So, this particular sentence from the study does appear flawed:

Processed vegetables comprised home-cooked vegetables including canned and frozen vegetables and tomato sauce

What they are describing as processed we would consider whole food plant based. I agree with them in considering juices processed though because the fiber has been modified. It is not a highly processed food but it is on it's way...

If this study had been talking about true food processing then the difference between the 'raw' fruits and vegetables and the 'processed' would probably have been hugely significant. But, I would also expect similar results if they were comparing whole food plant based cooked fruits and vegetables with truly processed fruits and vegetables like potato chips, french fries. kale chips, instant potatoes, soy isolates, etc...

Thanks again for your observations.

Sean

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  Comment was last edited about 1 month ago by Sean Carney Sean Carney
  1. Marky Yvanovich    Sean Carney

I like Dr Greger's way of looking at processed foods: If nothing good has been taken away (fiber, etc.) and nothing bad has been added (fat, sugar, etc.), then it should be fine.

One interesting example I like to give, that I heard Dr Greger mention in a recent Q&A Facebook live session (these are great!) is that if you eat whole coconut it won't raise your cholesterol even though it is high in saturated fat (but it doesn't lower your cholesterol either). However, if you eat defatted coconut, it will actually lower your cholesterol! So, it is possible for processed foods to be health promoting. It is up to us as consumers to be as well informed as possible when it comes to processed foods. Probably some related/similar items to consider would be cocoa vs cacao powder, and reconstituted peanut butter powder vs peanut butter.

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