Vegetarianism may reduce heart risk by one-third but green leafy vegetables may poison you

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It’s one of those times when I’m happy to note that I’ve never been a fan of raw vegetable salads. I’m so Asian when it comes to vegetables — I like them cooked. The irony is jarring and confusing, mind-blowing even, but there it is. Two separate studies, one conducted in the UK and the other in the US, tell us that while a vegetarian diet may lessen the chances of developing heart disease, there is danger of food poisoning in eating green leafy vegetables like lettuce and spinach.

Let’s start with the UK study covering some 45,000 people in England and Scotland, a third of whom were vegetarians.

The participants were recruited to the study throughout the 1990s, and all of them provided information about their health and lifestyle when they joined. About 20,000 of the volunteers also had their blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked, and follow-up continued until 2009.

During the follow-up period, heart disease was identified in more than 1,200 people, including 169 deaths from heart disease.

Crowe’s team found that the vegetarians had a 32 percent lower chance of being hospitalized or dying from heart disease versus people who ate meat or fish. The vegetarians typically had lower blood pressures and cholesterol levels than non-vegetarians.

Heartening for vegetarians, isn’t it? Now comes the big blow.

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Based on data culled over a decade:

Leafy green vegetables such as lettuce and spinach have been found to be one of the top sources of food poisoning, according to a new report released by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

The culprit is something called the norovirus and food poisoning from leafy vegetables, among others, seem to be directly related with bad food handling.

So, you like ordering salads in restaurants? It’s safer to prepare them at home.