A recent study (here) in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) examined a prospective cohort of 28,192 pregnant women (all first time pregnancies) for their relative risk of pre-eclampsia (PE), which is a condition characterized by high blood pressure & (non-essentially) high levels of protein in the urine. PE is associated with a number of maternal & fetal health effects including: maternal – eclampsia, the development of HELLP syndrome, hemorrhagic or ischemic stroke, liver damage and dysfunction, acute kidney injury, and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS); fetus – Caesarian section, preterm delivery, and placental abruption, fetal growth restriction & potentially fetal or perinatal death.
The authors observed around a 5% prevalence of PE in their cohort, which is in line with the worldwide prevalence, which was reported as 2-8% of pregnancies. They found that the odds of women developing PE were lower when they reported eating organic vegetables “often” or “mostly” compared with those who reported “never/rarely” or “sometimes”. Specifically, organic vegetables had a decreasing effect for PE over and above just eating more vegetables, as well as organic fruits, eggs, milk, cereals or even eating more organic foods as a whole. This means that organic vegetables are having some effect on decreasing PE risk by itself.
Now a lot of health professionals out there will tell you there’s no difference in nutritional value between Organic & NON Organic veggies, and for the main components of the plant that is likely true. And most people determine whether they should purchase them or not based on pesticide level (i.e. if they are high pesticide foods then it’s worth the expense, if not, then don’t bother), which is fine, but only examines one dimension of the issue. The pesticide content. I’m not saying that’s not important is definitely is, but the nutrition content of the plant should also be as important. In keeping with that line of logic, it has been that trace mineral content & polyphenol (the beneficial compounds in plants that give us tremendous health benefits) levels are higher in organic vs. non-organically raised vegetables. See this study on eggplants for one example. This has everything to do with the soil bacteria level, which is very important to the health of the plants, the animals (or humans) that eat those plants & of course eventually somewhere down the line US!
Now before you get your panties in a bunch and say, “I’ll just buy one of those fancy Polyphenol supplements from the health food store – problem solved”, you need to know that REAL FOOD is the far better option for getting these healthy compounds, and in this case we’re talking about green leafy vegetables! You can read my prior post about a Resveratrol study to see why I think REAL FOOD IS BETTER here.
In essence polyphenols, which have a whole myriad of benefits to our health have been shown to help lower blood pressure overall. A recent study examined Green Tea, of which polyphenols are a major part). This suggests that intake of highly active polyphenolic compounds could help prevent PE.
So, what’s the take home? WE should eat enough green leafy vegetables by making them the base of our food pyramids.
See my prior post on green smoothies (here) for tips to taking in more green leafy vegetables. Start this weekend! You’ve got nothing to lose, but the blood pressure (among other things)!
Till next time! Have a great weekend!
In Health & Fitness!