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One of the Vegetarian & Vegan Foundation’s (VVF) important tasks is to unravel scientific research and make it easy to understand and digestible. Here we update you on the latest…

By Veronika Powell MSc, VVF Health Campaigner

The science is now absolutely clear – cooked meat contains substances that can cause cancer. One

type in particular has been intensely studied – heterocyclic amines – and the latest study focusing on a heterocyclic amine called PhIP has shed more light on why this substance is so dangerous. PhIP can not only damage the DNA (and

therefore cause cancer) but it also has a strong oestrogen-like effect. As a consequence, hormone sensitive cancer cells, such as those in the breast, can become much more invasive and cause cancer to grow and spread at an accelerated rate.

Lauber, S.N., Gooderham, N.J., 2011. The cooked meat-derived mammary carcinogen 2-amino-1- methyl-6-phenylimidazo[4,5-b]pyridine promotes invasive behaviour of breast cancer cells. Toxicology. 279: 139-145

Cooking up trouble

Berry protective

There are many benefits to plant foods and one of the latest studies looking at the intake of flavonoids and the risk of developing Parkinson disease, confirmed it once again. Flavonoids are a group of natural compounds found only in plants and, as has been shown many times before, that they have antioxidant properties and might be nerve-protecting. The food diaries of nearly 130,000 participants of this

study were followed for 22 years. At the end of the study, scientists found that those who consumed the most berries – a food group particularly rich in a specific type of flavonoids (anthocyanins) – had a significantly lower risk of developing Parkinson disease. Berries are an excellent source of many important

nutrients and a very natural food for the human body. Buy fresh berries if you can or out of season, go for frozen – almost as good as fresh and more wallet- friendly!

Gao, X. et al., 2012. Habitual intake of dietary flavonoids and risk of Parkinson disease. Neurology. 78 (15) 1138-1145

Fancy a mood boost?

Two American scientists conducted some original research by putting a group of 39 meat-eaters on various diets and recording the effects on their moods. Three diets were tested: vegetarian, pescetarian (fish but not meat) and a diet containing both meat and fish. The participants completed questionnaires about their moods and kept a food diary. The results showed that while mood scores didn’t change for participants

on meat and fish-based diets, mood scores of participants on the vegetarian diet improved significantly after just two weeks. The authors suggested that the reasons might be higher antioxidant

intake and a better ratio (rather than quantity) of omega three to omega six in vegetarian diets. They conclude that meat-based diets depress mood because they are high in arachidonic acid, high intakes of which can promote brain changes that can negatively affect mood. It was expected that replacing meat with fish in the pescetarian group

might have some positive effects because of the omega three content of fish, results didn’t show any mood improvement.

Beezhold, B.L., Johnston, C.S., 2012. Restriction of meat, fish, and poultry in omnivores improves mood: a pilot randomized controlled trial. Nutrition Journal. 11 (9)

20 viva!life

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