Diets rich in vegetables and fruits have been shown to help individuals reach and achieve a healthy weight  and improve cardiovascular disease risk [7, 40]. This positive result has been attributed to the fact that vegetables and fruit are typically low in calories and have been shown to increase satiation [6, 41]. However, adopting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle that includes a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, lean meats and low fat dairy products, is problematic for many individuals . The current study examined whether including an easily accessible, portable vegetable-based beverage as part of a calorie-controlled DASH diet could increase vegetable intake and improve clinical characteristics of the metabolic syndrome in a group of individuals with a mean age of 49.8 years, predominately female (73%), with 84% self-identified as African American, Mexican American or other minority. During the 12 week study, participants received two individual counseling sessions with registered dietitians (at baseline and 6 weeks). Although everyone was counseled on a calorie-controlled DASH diet only those who were instructed to also incorporate 8 and 16 fluid ounces of vegetable juice per day significantly increased their vegetable consumption and significantly reduced their carbohydrate intake. Regardless of whether vegetable servings included or excluded the "starchy vegetables" (such as those defined by the Diabetic Vegetable Exchanges ), subjects consumed significantly more vegetables in the juice treatment groups.
This dietary practice translated to a significant amount of weight loss in the vegetable juice groups compared to those who did not incorporate the vegetable juice into the DASH diet. The amount of weight lost was modest, approximately 0.33 lb per week. But, this positive, "small-step" change is thought to be successful  and in our intervention resulted in a significantly greater weight loss over the 12 weeks in the group that incorporated vegetable juice into the DASH diet compared to the group that did not drink the juice.
Individuals with metabolic syndrome are at higher risk for both diabetes and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. Weight reduction is known to improve risk factors associated with metabolic syndrome [44, 45]. In the current study, after 12 weeks of vegetable juice consumption, the modest reduction in weight (<5% for most subjects), translated to a lower percentage of subjects that met the metabolic syndrome criteria for high triglycerides (i.e. >150 mg/dl). No significant changes were observed in any of the other measured metabolic or cardiovascular risk factors. However, we did observe a significant decrease in plasma leptin. Leptin is synthesized and secreted from adipocytes and is highly correlated with energy storage in adipose tissue [46, 47]. Analogous to our results, the observation that changes in leptin and triglycerides parallel weight loss, regardless of mechanism to reduce weight, has been observed by other investigators [48, 49].
It is important to note that the DASH diet instructions emphasized including vegetables of all forms in their daily diets, but only those groups provided with the simple intervention of adding vegetable juice significantly increasing vegetable intake. According to subjects' responses on the Beverage Consumption questionnaires, the juice was an acceptable addition to their diets. Apart from the vegetable juice, our subjects would not have met vegetable recommendations. Many different population groups do not meet current vegetable recommendations [50–52]. Inadequate vegetable intake is a widespread issue . Although campaigns promoting vegetables and fruits, such as the 5-A-Day program, have been publicized in the media and the public recognizes them , there is disconnect between the recommendations and typical consumption [6, 50, 51, 55]. In agreement with the above, in the current study, despite our DASH diet education, including an emphasis on vegetable intake, we observed no increases in dietary vegetables, apart from the added vegetable juice over time.
Education alone typically does not seem to relate to significant dietary improvements. McGee et al. studied a population with similar education to the present study, with approximately half of the participants with a high school education or less, and found that barriers to change towards a more healthful diet included lack of knowledge and skills . Despite the fact that we provided our subjects with DASH diet knowledge and food preparation tips, our participants still did not meet their vegetable recommendations unless a vegetable juice beverage was provided to them. Although a serious disease may motivate changes in dietary behavior, our subjects had cardiovascular risk factors, rather than a major cardiovascular event, which may have reduced their incentive to follow DASH diet guidelines . For example, Campbell et al. found that in a predominantly female population, consisting of a high percentage of minorities, it was possible to increase knowledge of infant feeding through education but that knowledge alone did not elicit change in dietary behaviors . Dietary interventions and education targeting minorities is especially difficult [57, 58]. However, our study showed beneficial dietary changes in minorities. Participants provided a vegetable beverage greatly enhanced their vegetable consumption, something the DASH counseling and materials alone, were unable to achieve. Consistent with the current study, Weerts et al.  reported that African American women, given nutritional and behavioral education, were more likely to increase their consumption of vegetables and consequently lose weight when they were provided with gift cards that were explicitly for vegetables and fruits.
While studies have observed blood pressure reductions in trials incorporating tomato based products [21, 22], we did not. These studies used tomato-based extracts, rather than a tomato-based juice. In addition to a lack of effect on blood pressure, vegetable juice consumption also did not correlate to an improvement in oxidative stress parameters, although a significant increase in vitamin C intake was observed in the vegetable juice groups. We note that other markers of antioxidant and oxidative stress may have yielded different results .
Limitations of the current study design include its short duration of 12 weeks. A longer study could provide data on weight loss maintenance, a key factor for weight control and health. In addition, since attrition was slightly higher than anticipated, even though it was not significantly different among groups, it became necessary to aggregate the groups consuming the vegetable juice for statistical power. While examination of the variables using the LOCF and ITT models did not reach statistical significance, they do show the same basic trends as the aggregated models. When looking at the more conservative models combined with the aggregated model, we acknowledge that our findings are preliminary and more research is needed. Another limitation to our study was the relatively modest-to-low rate of adherence among the 16 fluid ounces/day group. There were no significant differences in the adjusted models for weight loss among all three groups, however, on average, those who consumed 16 fluid ounces/day lost less weight than those who consumed 8 fluid ounces/day. It is difficult to know why the 16 fluid ounces/day group may not have been as effective as the 8 fluid ounces/day group in terms of weight loss. One possibility is the relatively low adherence to the intervention protocol in those assigned to consume a greater volume of juice. This finding indicates that it may be difficult, in a clinical or public health setting to recommend drinking 16 fluid ounces/day of vegetable juice.