Eating vegetables and fruits may reduce cholesterol, prevent build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries and can provide protection against heart disease, according to a study on mice. US researchers led by Michael Adams at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine assessed the effect of diet on heart disease by studying mice.

These mice had been specially bred to rapidly develop atherosclerosis — the formation of fatty plaques in the arteries that can eventually block blood flow leading to heart attacks and strokes. Half of the studied mice were fed a vegetable-free diet and half the mice were fed a diet that included broccoli, green beans, corn, peas and carrots. After 16 weeks, researchers measured cholesterol content in the blood vessels and plaques in the arteries of the mice.

They found 38 per cent less build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries of mice that were fed a mixture of vegetables, including carrots and peas. “Although the pathways involved remain uncertain, the results indicate that a diet rich in green and yellow vegetables inhibits the development of hardening of the arteries and may reduce the risk of heart disease,” Adams said.