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Vegetables of Green, Yellow Hue Hailed

November 09, 1994| From Associated Press

CHICAGO — Two new studies offer tantalizing evidence that chemicals in green and yellow vegetables may protect against heart disease and the most common cause of blindness in the elderly.

But much more research will be needed to determine which of the antioxidant chemicals may be protective, and in what quantities, over what periods of time and in what types of people, said researchers not involved in the work.

The compounds, called carotenoids, are the pigments that make squash yellow and spinach green.

In one new study, of 1,899 men with high blood cholesterol, those with high levels of carotenoids had 36% fewer heart attacks and deaths over 13 years than men with low levels of carotenoids.

"When we looked at men who never smoked, the protective effect was much greater," wrote Dr. Dexter Morris of the University of North Carolina in today's issue of the Journal of the American Medical Assn.

In the other study, Harvard researchers compared 356 people who had developed a visual disorder called age-related macular degeneration with 500 similar people who were free of the condition. People who consumed the most dark green, leafy vegetables were 43% less likely to have developed AMD than people who had consumed the least, researchers said.

"Increasing the consumption of foods rich in certain carotenoids, in particular dark green, leafy vegetables, may decrease the risk of developing advanced or exudative AMD, the most visually disabling form of macular degeneration among older people," said researchers, led by Dr. Johanna M. Seddon of the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and Harvard Medical School.

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