New study to investigate impact of vegetables on female health

Scientists from the University of Aberdeen Rowett Institute are looking to recruit female volunteers to help them with research into whether eating vegetables can reduce the risk of women getting diabetes and cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Previous studies in this area have failed to focus on women due to difficulties in gathering data due to fluctuations in menstrual cycle.

Healthy women between the ages of 18-30 years and 40-70 years with a BMI between 25 and 30 may be eligible to participate, however eligibility can be confirmed at an initial screening session.

Dr Viren Ranawana, who is leading the study, explained: “It is well accepted that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables helps reduce chronic disease risk. However, there is still limited evidence from well-controlled trials in this area, particularly for women.

“Due to hormonal changes throughout the menstrual cycle, it is more difficult to carry out studies with  women. But studying women is particularly important as studies show they can be more prone to blood glucose fluctuations and risk of developing CVD. There is evidence to show that eating vegetables can help reduce blood glucose fluctuations. This may be an important health benefit of eating more vegetables particularly in this day and age where we typically consume a large amount of highly digestible carbohydrates.

 “By including vegetables in our meals we may be able to reduce disease risk. In this study we want to investigate how eating green leafy vegetables impacts diabetes and CVD risk in women. We think it is a particularly timely study as the incidence of both diabetes and CVD in women is increasing in the UK.

“Our study will look at pre- and post-menopausal women in two age-groups.  Those in the 18-30 years group need to have regular menstrual cycles and all participants would need to be not taking  any prescription medications including  hormonal contraceptives  and  hormonal replacement therapy.

“Volunteers will be required to visit us here at the Rowett Institute four times over a 1-4 month period. One of these sessions will last around 3 hours and the others around eight hours. Participants will be provided with dinner the evening before each  visit, and then arrive the following day in a fasted state.”

Dr Janice Drew, from the Rowett Institute added: “Maintaining normal blood sugar levels after consuming food is not only influenced by whether or not we consume vegetables with food.

“In women this is also linked to female hormones, which change following the menopause. Inability to maintain normal blood sugar levels can cause our bodies to age more rapidly and increase the risk of age related diseases such as type II diabetes and heart disease. Inability to maintain normal blood sugar levels accelerates our biological age beyond that of our actual age in years since birth.

“Research is needed to determine how women can reduce their risk of the damaging effects of abnormal blood sugar levels throughout their lives and perhaps identify meal combinations that will delay the onset of age related diseases such as type II diabetes and heart disease.”

For further information about the study or to volunteer to take part, visit or contact Dr Ranawana on 01224 438764 / or Dr Drew on 01224 438775 /

This study is funded by The Scottish Government as part of the Strategic Research Programme..