Aspirin Levels in Plant Foods

Aspirin Levels in Plant Foods
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Why people eating healthy diets may have aspirin in their bloodstream— even if they don’t take any.

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Inflammation plays a key role in a number of disease processes, including dementia, heart disease, and certain cancers. This is why doctors recommend some patients take an aspirin a day for prevention. Recently, though, researchers found that even people who don’t take aspirin have a certain level of aspirin in their bloodstream. Very low levels, but not zero. How did it get there at all if they weren’t taking any?

Well, aspirin was originally extracted from the bark of the willow tree, so researchers started to wonder if it might be found in other plants as well. And it turns out aspirin is widely distributed throughout the plant kingdom; plants use it to prevent disease, too.

So, if it’s in plants, what about the blood levels of those eating plant-based diets? Vegetarians naturally have low levels of aspirin coursing through their systems, because they eat more plants—as much as some people who take aspirin as a drug. The problem with taking the drug, though, is that it increases our risk of bleeding—like hemorrhagic stroke. But some studies find vegetarians have a lower risk of bleeding into their brain. So, eating a plant-based diet, one might be able to get some of the benefits of taking aspirin, without some of the risks.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to comprock via Flickr.

Inflammation plays a key role in a number of disease processes, including dementia, heart disease, and certain cancers. This is why doctors recommend some patients take an aspirin a day for prevention. Recently, though, researchers found that even people who don’t take aspirin have a certain level of aspirin in their bloodstream. Very low levels, but not zero. How did it get there at all if they weren’t taking any?

Well, aspirin was originally extracted from the bark of the willow tree, so researchers started to wonder if it might be found in other plants as well. And it turns out aspirin is widely distributed throughout the plant kingdom; plants use it to prevent disease, too.

So, if it’s in plants, what about the blood levels of those eating plant-based diets? Vegetarians naturally have low levels of aspirin coursing through their systems, because they eat more plants—as much as some people who take aspirin as a drug. The problem with taking the drug, though, is that it increases our risk of bleeding—like hemorrhagic stroke. But some studies find vegetarians have a lower risk of bleeding into their brain. So, eating a plant-based diet, one might be able to get some of the benefits of taking aspirin, without some of the risks.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to comprock via Flickr.

Doctor's Note

For more on naturally occuring aspirin:
Magic Bullets vs. Promiscuous Plants
Appropriating Plant Defenses
Power Plants

And check out my other videos on vegetarians

For further context, also see my associated blog posts: Inflammation, Diet, and”Vitamin S”Fighting Inflammation with Food Synergy; and The Most Anti-Inflammatory Mushroom.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

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