Health Points: Friday

  • Light and fluffy like a butterfly, sweet and tangy like a bee. According to The New York Times Muhammad Ali is rolling out his own line of health food. Michel Marriott reports:
    The first products to roll out in convenience stores early next year will be packaged snacks with names like Rumble, Shuffle and Jabs — fruit-laden rolls and finger foods baked into vaguely signature shapes like boxing gloves and punching bags. Some flavors, like barbecued chicken and Buffalo wings, are a twist on snack classics, while others, like sweet corn and cole slaw, evoke the farmer's market.

    The new line has the lofty aim of fighting youth obesity, with no snack containing more than 150 calories. Each is fortified with vitamins and fiber, said Edward Rapp, a senior member of Mr. Ali's new company, GOAT Food and Beverage (GOAT being an acronym for — what else? — Greatest of All Time).

  • Aetiology offers a maddening amount of information on “mad cow” disease, and an even more insidious infliction called Kuru:
    So-called "mad cow" disease, in humans, is a progressive neurological disorder more correctly called variant Creuzfield-Jacob disease (vCJD). This is due to infection with an agent called a prion. Additional background can be found here, but briefly, the prion is actually a misfolded form of a normal host protein (called PrPc, standing for "prion protein, cellular form"). Its a concern to human health largely because the disease swept through cattle herds in the UK in the 1980s, and it is uncertain just how many humans unknowingly consumed contaminated beef--and therefore, how many may eventually develop vCJD.

    vCJD is one of a family of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs); others in this family include scrapie (which affects sheep), chronic wasting disease (which affects deer, elk, and moose, among others), and another human TSE called kuru (discussed further below).

  • Salt has been in the news lately, Sally Squires of The LA Times presents some tips to help get salt out of our lives.
  • Kottke has some seriously funny issues with his wife’s recent reaction to Michael Pollan’s book The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals:
    Lately though, Mr. Pollan, the situation has become much worse. Meg has completely forsaken her marital duties, turning her evening attentions elsewhere. It took me a few weeks to discover what she was up to, but she finally admitted to tending a hayfield in an empty lot in Queens. Oh, didn't I tell you? Meg has purchased a cow. I don't know where this cow is located, but his name is Arthur. She's taking me to meet him before he's humanely slaughtered so that, and I quote precisely, "you know where your food comes from for a change".

    After the cow news became widely known in our household, Meg turned our extra bedroom into a hay mow, which mow is the subject of our building's co-op board meeting next month. An eighth floor resident complained about the conveyor belt chucking bales into the building's alley and the straw situation in the elevator was getting on everyone's nerves. I dare not add to the register of complaints by mentioning my acute hay-fever at this point.

Type II Diabetes Leads to Heart Disease

A new study published in the July 1 edition of The Lancet determines a strong relationship between type II diabetes and the development of heart disease. Ed Edelson of Healthday reports:

It's long been known that type 2 diabetes increases the risk for cardiovascular disease. In the study, Booth's team studied the hospital and death records of nearly 9.5 million Canadians -- 379,000 of them with diabetes. They hoped to determine how fast diabetes accelerates an individual's progression to higher levels of risk for cardiovascular disease.

The study found that men with type 2 diabetes entered the cardiovascular "moderate-risk" category at an average age of just under 39 years; for non-diabetic men, that transition didn't typically occur until more than 15 years later, at about age 55. Diabetic men entered the "high-risk" category at just over 49 years of age, compared to 62 years for men without diabetes, the researchers found.

The numbers for women were similar. Women with type 2 diabetes were classified as being at moderate risk for heart disease at an average age of 46, compared to 62 years for non-diabetic women. And women with type 2 diabetes entered the high-risk category at 56 years, compared to just under 69 years of age for women without diabetes.

Perhaps the most striking numbers in the report involved life expectancy. People with type 2 diabetes who were also classified as being at moderate or high risk for cardiovascular disease died an average of about 18 years earlier than non-diabetics, the researchers found.

Worried about type II diabetes? You can fight back. Check out this previous post: Don't Settle For Diabetes

American Heart Association Recommendations Are Dangerous

From Dr. Fuhrman's book Eat to Live:

The typical dietary advice, represented by the American Heart Association's guidelines, is still a dangerous diet. It is not likely to protect you from having a heart attack and does not allow heart disease to reverse itself. Moderation kills. The fact is that such dietary advice still allows heart disease to advance in the overwhelming majority of patients.

WARNING: Do not merely comply with these overly permissive recommendations of the American Heart Association, or you will most likely die of a heart attack.

  • Total fat intake should be restricted to no more than 30 percent of total calories.
  • Cholesterol intake should be less than 200 mg daily.
  • Salt intake should not exceed six grams of sodium chloride daily.

Just to highlight a small difference between the American Heart Association guidelines and my recommendations: My diet have lass than 300 mg of cholesterol and six grams of sodium chloride per week! More than a dozen studies have demonstrated that the majority of patients with coronary artery disease who follow an American Heart Association step one or step two diet have their condition worsen.1 No study has ever shown that the patients who follow an American Heart Association diet can reverse or stop worsening of coronary artery disease.

In contrast, numerous studies have documented that heart disease is reversible for the majority of patients following a vegetarian diet.2 Most often diets, such as the Ornish program, are no even optimal diets, as they do not sufficiently limit processed grains, salt, and other low-nutrient-density processed foods. Nevertheless, they are still effective for most patients.

The medical literature continues to refer to the diet recommended by the National Cholesterol Education Program as "low-fat." By worldwide standards it should be called a high-fad diet, but more important, it should be called a low-nutrient-density-diet--one with a dangerously low level of plant-derived nutrients. As a result of following this almost worthless advice, heart disease patients usually eat a diet that derives over 80 percent of its calories from processed foods and animal products.

No matter how poor patients' diet, most claim that they are already on a low-fat diet. They believe that eating a chicken-and-pasta-based diet is in some way healthy merely because they eat less red meat. Yet chicken is almost as dangerous for the heart as red meat; switching from red meat to white meat does not lower cholesterol.3 Such conventional diets simply do not lower cholesterol sufficiently and do no contain adequate heart-protective factors such as fiber, antioxidants, folate, bioflavonoids, and other phytochemicals.

Another real problem with these so-called low-fat diets is that they are often low in fiber and phytochemical-rich vegetation and may not be carefully designed to include enough of the cardioprotective fats. For example, multiple studies have shown the protective effects of consuming walnuts, which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. A study of 34,192 Californian Seventh-Day Adventists showed a 31 percent reduction in the lifetime risk of ischemic heart disease in those who consumed raw nuts frequently.4The ideal diet for heart disease reversal, then, is free of saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol; rich in nutrients and fiber; and low in calories, to achieve thinness. However, it should contain sufficient essential fatty acids, so it is important to add a small amount of nuts and seeds, such as walnuts and flaxseed.

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NBA Star Menu Predicts Future Health Problems

A recent article in the Detroit Free Press described how Richard Hamilton of the Detroit Pistons uses a full time chef to prepare his meals. According to the article, this chef and his team of helpers are responsible for making sure the leading scorer of the Detroit Pistons "eats right." From breakfast to the post-game meal, his meals are designed to fuel Richard and his crew.

Based on the report it looks like breakfast usually consists of grits mixed with eggs and cheese or waffles with pecans and peaches. The lunch menu includes grilled chicken salad, tuna salad or his favorite, a sweet corn soup. For dinner, Hamilton enjoys crab-stuffed steak or barbecued salmon or white chicken lasagna. Favorite desserts are lemon cake or gooey butter cake. Let's take a look at what's on the menu:

Day 1

Yellow Corn Grits with Cheese
Coffe with cream and sugar

Grilled Chicken Breast
Shredded Romain Lettuce
Italian Salad Dressing
French Bread
Chocolate Milkshake

Crab Stuffed Steak
Baked Potato with Sour Cream
Broccoli with Butter
Lemon Cake


Waffles with Peaches and Pecans
Coffee with Cream and Sugar

Chicken Corn Chowder
Italian Bread

Barbecued Salmon
White Rice
Green Beans
Chocolate Cake


Yellow Corn Grits with Cheese
Coffe with Cream and Sugar

Grilled Chicken Breast
Mixed Baby Greens
Italian Dressing
French Bread
Orange Juice

Chicken Lasagna
Italian Bread
Lemon Cake

Clearly Richard Hamilton and his chef are not nutritionists. His diet is designed to meet Richard's taste preferences, not to maximize health and performance. Let's take a look at what this fit basketball player eats, we'll do a complete dietary analysis of his meals and see if his diet comes up healthful or not.

I had my staff dietician analyze these menus with a computer software program to document the poor nutritional quality of Hamilton's diet. For any person to expect to remain in excellent health as they age, the vast majority (meaning 75- 90 percent) of calories must come from unrefined natural plant foods, not white flour, sugar, oil and animal products. Because Richard's diet is profoundly deficient in vegetables, beans, fresh fruits and raw nuts and seeds (high nutrient plant foods), we can use his diet as an example of a disease-promoting diet-style.

The highlights of our computerized analysis are highlighted below:
Sodium: 6550 mg (recommended level--below 1500)
This high sodium diet guarantees Richard will develop high blood pressure in later life and be at high risk of both a heart attack and a stroke.

Fiber: 26 grams
This low level of fiber assures us Richard will develop colonic diverticulum and remain at higher risk of colon cancer.

Cholesterol 1082 mg, Saturated Fat 52 grams
This high intake of saturated fat and cholesterol guarantees Richard will develop a high cholesterol in later life and will clearly be at high risk of heart disease and cancer, like the rest of Americans.

Vitamin C 165 mg, Vitamin D 96 IU, Vitamin E 13 mg, Molybdenum 34 ug, Beta Carotene 5108
These low levels of antioxidant vitamins and minerals assure us that Richard will age prematurely and cut short his years of athletic prowess.

If you have been living in a cave for the last five years and haven't heard, a diet is considered healthy only if it gets the majority of its calories from natural plant foods, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, beans, avocado, raw nuts, seeds and other nutrient-rich foods. When one bases their diet from a combination of animal products and processed foods a deficiency of plant-derived phytochemicals leads you down the road to cancer later in life.

Even though Richard Hamilton is only 29 years old, slim and wiry, and in great cardiovascular condition does not mean that his body will hold up to this level of activity as he ages. His diet may supply him with adequate macronutrients (fat, carbohydrate and protein) to sustain a high level of physical activity, but because the micronutrient levels are so low, he places himself at risk for a shortened career with injury and premature aging of his joints and connective tissues. As a result of this diet I would not risk a long term contract on Richard. His diet will likely prevent him from continuing this high level of athleticism that he displays past the age of 36. When we consider the productivity of players past the age of 36, we must look at their diet. Shaq is 34 years old and clearly his days are limited. It is rare that a person can compete at a professional level effectively past the age of 35.

There are exceptions to the rule, and dietary excellence is the way that young athletes can prolong their athletic careers. Look at Martina Navratilova, the tennis player who has been competing at a high competitive level for decades. She can do this because her diet is scientifically designed to be rich in antioxidants and phytocheimicals.

When I design diets for professional athletes we talk about what they want to achieve. Increase stamina? Strength? Reduce chance of catching infections? Achieve athletic longevity in their sport? Or just maintain their health as they age? You would be amazed that athletes are pretty smart in what they expect nutritional intervention to do.

For example, Dr. Dean Nicolas is a friend or mine who consults with me about nutrition. He coaches world and Olympic ski racers and is cognizant that a racer who is frequently ill or suffers from a prolonged viral infection during the winter can lose his high ranking in the world merely from a bad showing in a few races due to a poorly timed illness. When one of his racers gets ill and has a subsequent poor performance in an event, the ranking loss could cost him as much as $500,000 that year. Not a trivial infection. For example, Eric Schlopy who has skied in three Olympic Games has the good sense to design his diet with intelligence and precision to maximize his performance, disease resistance, and prolong the years of his athletic fitness.

We know that Dwyane Wade had a viral infection that almost cost the Heat their place in the finals and may have had something to do with his mediocre performance in the first two games against the Mavericks. Maybe these young athletes will wake up and realize that nutritional excellence can dramatically increase their resistance to infection, especially when they are on the road so much, exposed to so many people and under stress. It could make the difference between a victory or a loss in the NBA finals and it can prolong their playing years, not to mention their life. Pass all that cake, bread, pasta and cream to the other team Richard, it might get you a few more years of good play and be worth millions to you.

Vegetables Deliver Protein with Micronutrients

From Dr. Fuhrman's book Disease Proof Your Child:

When you eat to maximize micronutrients, your body function will improve; chronic illnesses like high blood pressure, Type II diabetes, and high cholesterol will likely disappear; and your youthful vigor will last into old age. Heart disease and cancer, the major killers of modern societies, would fade away and be exceedingly rare occurrences if the population adopted a cancer-preventive diet style and lifestyle. And we would hardly ever see any overweight children.

Maintaining a population of normal-weight individuals can be efficiently accomplished only by eating more high-nutrient foods, foods with higher nutrient-per-calorie ratio. The foods with the most nutrients per calorie are vegetables and beans. Vegetables are also very rich in protein and calcium. Most vegetables have more protein per calorie than meat and more calcium per calorie than milk. Nobody can consume too little protein by eating less animal products and substituting vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds.

The focus on the importance of protein in the diet is one of the major reasons we have been led down the wrong path to dietary suicide. We were taught to equate protein with good nutrition and have though animal products, not vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds, are our best source of protein. We bought a false bill of goods, and the dairy-and-meat-heavy diet brought fourth a heart attack and cancer epidemic.

If we hear something over and over since we were young children, we just accept it as true. For example, it is myth repeated over and over that plant proteins are "incomplete" and need to be "complemented" for adequate protein. In fact, all vegetables and grains contain all eight of the essential amino acids (as well as the 12 other nonessential ones).1 While some vegetables have higher or lower proportions of certain amino acids than others, when eaten in amounts to satisfy one's caloric needs, a sufficient amount of all essential amino acids are provided. Because digestive secretions and sloughed-off mucosal cells are constantly recycled and reabsorbed, the amino acid composition in the bloodstream after meals is remarkably complete in spite of short-term irregularities in their dietary supply.

It is interesting to note that peas, green vegetables, and beans have more protein per calorie than meat. But what is not generally considered is that foods that are rich in plant protein are generally the foods that are richest in nutrients and phytochemicals. By eating more of these high-nutrient, low calorie foods we get plenty of protein, and our bodies get flooded with protective micronutrients simultaneously. Animal protein does not contain antioxidants and phtyochemicals, plant protein does. Plus, animal protein is married to saturated fat, the most dangerous type of fat.

Protein Content From Selected Plant Foods
FoodGrams of Protein
Almonds (3 oz)10
Broccoli (2 cups)10
Brown Rice (1 cup)5
Chickpeas (1 cup)15
Corn (1 cup)4.2
Lentils (1 cup)18
Peas--frozen (1 cup)9
Spinach--frozen (1 cup)7
Tofu (4 ounces)11
Whole wheat bread (2 slices)5

Even a professional body builder who wants to build one-half pound of extra muscle per week only needs about an extra seven grams per day over a normal protein intake. No Complicated formulas or protein supplements are needed to get sufficient protein for growth, even in the serious athlete. Exercise increases hunger, and as the athlete consumes more calories to meet the demands of exercise, they will naturally get the extra protein they need. Many world-class athletes thrive at world-class competitions on vegetarian and vegan diets.

When you reduce or eliminate animal protein intake and increase vegetable protein intake, you lower cholesterol radically. Vegetables, beans, and nuts and seeds are all rich in protein, and they also have no saturated fat or cholesterol. But the clincher is that they are higher in nutrients than any other foods. We must structure our diets around the foods that supply the most micronutrients.

The cholesterol-lowering effects of vegetables and beans (high protein foods) are without question. When adult subjects are feed a vegetable-based diet, cholesterol levels drop radically, much more than with the most powerful cholesterol-lowering drugs.2 These foods also contain an assortment of heart disease-fighting nutrients independent of their ability to lower cholesterol, and they fight cancer, too.

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Eat to Live: Knowledge Motivates Change

Adapted from Dr. Fuhrman's book Cholesterol Protection For Life:

When I began my medical practice as a specialist in nutrition, I focused my attention on individuals who were looking for nutritional intervention as a means of reversing their medical conditions to recover their health and avoid taking medication or having invasive surgery. The inevitable outcome was that when my patients were committed to superior health through nutritional excellence, they were able to reduce and eventually stop their dependency on medications for high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and a host of other conditions. Spectacular disease reversals were the norm, not the exception.

I found that when people ate a diet comprised of the most nutritious and powerful "anti-cancer" plant foods their cholesterol dropped more powerfully than it could from the typical cholesterol-lowering medication. Their diabetes went away. I soon said, "Let's not just treat your diabetes and control it. Let's get rid of it and make you non-diabetic."

The focus was never on caloric restriction; rather, it was on eating more high nutrient food, and as a result, eating less of everything else that was not a high nutrient food.

Besides reversing chronic disease and preventing heart disease and cancer, I found that my patients were able to reach their ideal weight with ease. No calorie counting, no complicated formulas, pills or unfulfilled promises. The basic plan is simple: just take the healthiest foods and make them taste great and eat as much as desired. My patients dropped the weight they could not lose before, and they achieved these results relatively quickly.

The traditional viewpoint is often stated that if you lose your weight too rapidly it won't stick and you will gain it all back. I have never advocated that people be in a race to lose their excess weight. I see no reason, however, to eat unhealthy foods or to eat when you are not hungry under some notion that losing weight slower would be better. The reality is that your body just drops its unhealthy weight relatively quickly and naturally when you eat so well under the Eat to Live program.

The permanence of the results can be attributed to the fact that the program is knowledge-based. Knowledge motivates the change, not willpower. The Eat to Live diet-style supplies spectacular results in the weight loss arena that are permanent because once a person becomes a nutritional expert and experiences the results, they Eat to Live forever. The secret is to gain the education first. You must do the work; read Eat to Live, or gain the knowledge on line from my membership services, but you must study and understand the science. If the preponderance of evidence and logic does not make perfect sense to you, don't do it. The more you learn, the easier it becomes to eat this way for the rest of your life.

Running from Heart Trouble

There has been a lot of buzz in the news about the risks and benefits of running and jogging. Two recent stories seem to go together nicely.

Reuters: Amateur Marathoners Beware A new study shows amateur marathon runners who don't properly train before a marathon can endure cardiac dysfunction after the race, and these abnormalities may persist for up to a month after they finish. Reuters reports:

The series of echocardiographs obtained for the 20 amateur marathoners demonstrated "attenuation" of heart function after the race.

There was evidence of abnormalities in both systolic function (the heart's pumping ability) and diastolic function (the heart's ability to relax during beats).

All of the systolic abnormalities normalized fairly quickly, but the diastolic abnormalities persisted for up to one month after the race, indicating an inherent alteration in the heart's ability to relax.

The researchers emphasize there is some uncertainty surrounding the study:

Dr. Malissa J. Wood and colleagues emphasize that their results do not pertain to elite athletes; "our group consisted of runners who ran on average less than 40 miles a week during training, a level that is most consistent with the 'average' marathon runner."

Their study also does not address whether this transient dysfunction damages the heart or if there are any long-term cardiac consequences.

NY Times: Running Healthy According to The New York Times jogging and running are excellent forms of exercise, but for those not used to the strain on their bodies it can be deadly. Jane E. Brody reports:

When you hear about someone who has suffered a heart attack or sudden cardiac death while jogging, the immediate assumption is likely to be that jogging is dangerous to the heart. But is it?

The answer is somewhat paradoxical. While jogging, a person — especially someone with underlying heart disease — is more likely to die than if that person were walking or resting at that same moment. During vigorous exercise, the heart can develop an irregular beat, blood pressure can rise to a dangerous level or plaque from a partly clogged artery can break off and stop blood flow.

But — and this is a big but — over all, people who jog, including those with major cardiac risk factors, are less likely to have a heart attack in the long run than if they had not been joggers.

The report provides some tips to help novice and experienced runners stay safe:

  • Make sure all cardiac risk factors — especially smoking — are absent or under control.
  • If you have been sedentary for years or have any doubts about your cardiac well-being, get checked out beforehand. But keep in mind that passing an exercise stress test is not a guarantee of cardiac health.
  • Establish a sensible training program, especially long before an event. All your muscles, not just your heart, need to be up to the stress.
  • Run or walk at your own pace (the marathon is a race for only a few young, elite athletes).
  • Stay well-hydrated with water at first, then with a sport drink if you sweat heavily or exercise for two or more hours.
  • Pay attention to warning signs. If you experience upper body discomfort or pain that could be a symptom of coronary insufficiency during the activity, stop immediately and seek medical attention.

The Glossary of Cholesterol

From Dr. Fuhrman's book Cholesterol Protection For Life:

Fat is one of the three macronutrients (along with protein and carbohydrate) that supply calories to the body. Fats provide 9 calories per gram, more than twice the number provided by carbohydrates or protein.

Fats provide the "essential" fatty acids, which are not made by the body and must be obtained from food. Fatty acids provide the raw materials that help control blood pressure, blood clotting, inflammation and other important body functions.

Fat is essential for the proper functioning of the body. Healthy skin and hair are maintained by fat. Fat helps in the absorption and transport through the bloodstream of the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Fats perform vital and valuable role in the body. For example, fats:

  • Are a part of all cell membranes.
  • Make up part of the material that insulates nerves and increases the efficiency of nerve conduction.
  • Make up an integral part of certain hormones that regulate blood pressure, clotting and inflammation.
  • Are the major component of brain tissue and are necessary for emotional well being. The energy or calories that one consumes in excess of the body's needs is mainly stored as fat (adipose). Eating too much fat, just like eating too much carbohydrate and too much protein (the three sources of calories), can lead to excessive storage of body fat, weight gain and obesity. Too much fat, as well as too many calories in general contribute to coronary artery disease and other heart-related problems.

Like certain vitamins and minerals, there are also certain fats that are essential to humans. Eliminating fat completely from one's diet can lead to an essential fatty acids deficiency with negative health consequences. Therefore, a heart-healthy diet should aim to include dietary fats in a balance with other nutrients to provide essential fatty acids to meet daily energy needs and other metabolic needs of the body. Emphasis should be placed on minimizing or eliminating saturated fat and trans fat intake.

Some naturally occurring fats are called saturated because all the carbon atoms are single bonds. These fats are solid at room temperature and generally recognized as a significant cause of both heart disease and cancer. Saturated fats are found mainly in meat, fowl, eggs, and dairy. The foods with the most saturated fat are butter, cream, and cheese.

Saturated fat raises your LDL-cholesterol level more than anything else in the diet. Eating too much saturated fat and cholesterol is the main reason for the high number of heart attacks seen in North America and other countries.

These fats are a mix of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat. Eating unsaturated fats lowers cholesterol when substituted for saturated fats, but excessive amounts may promote cancer and obesity. Examples of unsaturated fats are the fats in nuts and seeds such as flax seeds, sunflower seeds, macadamia and pistachio nuts, almonds, walnuts, cashews, as well as avocados and olives.

Are fats with more than one double bond in the carbon chain. Like monounsaturated fat, these natural fats are also found in their natural state in raw seeds such as sesame, sunflower as well as in corn and soybeans and are essential for normal body development and function.

Are fats with only one double bond in the carbon chain. They are liquid at room temperature and thought to have health benefits. The supposed health benefits of these fats appear when these fats are used in place of dangerous saturated fats. Monounsaturated fat is found in avocados, olives, almonds, peanuts, and most other nuts.

Hydrogenation is a process of adding hydrogen molecules to unsaturated fats which makes plant oils that are liquid at room temperature, solidify. An example is margarine. These fats are also called TRANS FATS. The hardening of the fat extends its shelf life so that the oil can by used over and over again to fry potatoes in a fast food restaurant or be added to processed foods, such as crackers and cookies. While hydrogenation does not make the fat completely saturated, it creates trans-fatty acids, which act like saturated fats. These fats raise cholesterol and increasing evidence is accumulating demonstrating the harmful nature of these man-made fats and their relation to both cancer and heart disease. Avoid all foods whose ingredients contain partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated oils.

Cholesterol is a waxy fat produced by the body and found in animal foods such as meat, fowl, dairy, and eggs. Eating cholesterol does raise blood cholesterol, but ironically not as much as eating saturated fats and trans fats. The amount of cholesterol in plants is so negligible that you should consider them cholesterol free.

LDL cholesterol is the bad guy that promotes the plaque that leads to blockages and heart attacks. Thus, the more LDL-cholesterol you have in your blood, the greater your risk of heart disease.

HDL cholesterol is the "good" cholesterol and carries cholesterol back to the liver for removal from the body. So a higher HDL helps keep cholesterol from building up in the walls of the arteries. Individuals with a total cholesterol/HDL ratio above 4 are considered to have an exceptionally high risk of heart disease. So, the higher your HDL-cholesterol, the better. However, those with exceptionally low LDL cholesterol do not have to worry about their HDL level. You don't need the garbage collectors when there is no garbage.

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is a long chain omega 3 fat that is made by the body, but can also be found in algae and fish, such as salmon and sardines. DHA is used in the production of anti-inflammatory mediators that inhibit abnormal immune function and prevents excessive blood clotting. DHA is not considered an essential fat because the body can manufacture sufficient amounts if adequate short chain omega-3 fats are consumed (flax, walnuts, soybeans, leafy green vegetables). However, because of genetic differences in the enzyme activity and because of excess omega-6 fats, many people, who do not consume fish regularly, are deficient in this important fat.

AA is a long chain omega 6 fat produced by the body, but also found in meat, fowl, dairy and eggs. Products formed from excessive amounts of this fatty acid have the potential to increase inflammation and are disease-causing. They may increase blood pressure, thrombosis, vasospasm, and allergic reaction. They are linked to arthritis, depression, and other common illnesses.

Triglycerides comprise the largest proportion of fats (lipids) in the diet, in the adipose tissue, and in the blood. Immediately after a fatty meal, triglycerides rise in the bloodstream. We store triglycerides in our fatty tissues and muscle as a source of energy, and gradually release and metabolize it between meals according to the energy needs of the body. Only a small portion of your triglycerides is found in the bloodstream. High blood triglyceride levels are reflective of increased body fat stores. High triglycerides further promote and contribute to atherosclerosis in people with high cholesterol.

Veggies Protect Your Heart

Dr. Fuhrman contends a vegetable-based nutrient-dense diet is essential for protecting against and reversing heart disease. In Cholesterol Protection for Life Dr. Fuhrman advises people to center their diets on health promoting foods and to limit staples of the typical American diet:

Vegetables, beans, fruits, nuts and seeds are nature's nutrient-rich natural foods. Your meals need to revolve around these foods, not grains, oils or animal products.

Limit the amount of processed foods, refined breads, and pasta—preferably to not more than once a week.

The health protective effects of vegetables are exemplified in a new study published in the July issue of the Journal of Nutrition. Mice fed a vegetable-rich diet received a 38 percent reduction in atherosclerosis risk. Kathleen Doheny of HealthDay News reports:

After 16 weeks, they assessed the animals' health and found those who ate the vegetable-rich diet had lower total cholesterol levels, lower levels of the so-called "bad" cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and a 7 percent lower average body weight.

"The mice who consumed 30 percent of their diet as vegetables developed atherosclerotic plaques that were 38 percent smaller than those of the mice who consumed no vegetables," Michael Adams, a professor of pathology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine said.

Researchers believe this has strong implications for human health as well:

The study is "interesting and encouraging," said Alice Lichtenstein, director of the Cardiovascular Nutrition Lab and Gershoff Professor of Nutrition Science and Policy at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center, Tufts University, Boston, and chair of the nutrition committee for the American Heart Association.

"The observation has been made in humans that people who eat fruits and vegetables have less coronary artery disease and less heart disease," she said. But to her knowledge, no one knows the mechanism.

"It may be a direct effect, or people eating a lot of fruits and vegetables may have a diet [that is also] healthy in other ways."

As for advice, Adams said boosting vegetable and fruit intake is always wise. "The average consumption in this country of green and yellow vegetables and of fruits is two to three servings a day. If people just ate 2 or 3 more servings a day, odds are they would be much healthier for it."

This isn't the first time health professionals have noted the advantages of a diet rich in unrefined plant matter. In Eat to Live Dr. Fuhrman explains numerous authorities have already cited the benefits of high intake of fruits and vegetables:

After years of examining the accumulating evidence, eight top health organizations joined forces and agreed encourage Americans to eat more unrefined plant food and less food from animal sources, as revealed in the new dietary guidelines published in the July 27, 1999, Journal of the American Heart Association. These authorities are the Nutrition Committee of the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Council on Cardiovascular Disease in the Young, the Council on Epidemiology and Prevention, the American Dietetic Association, the Division of Nutrition Research of the National Institutes of Health, and the American Society for Clinical Nutrition.

Their unified guidelines are a giant step in the right direction. Their aim is to offer protection against the major chronic diseases in America, including heart disease and cancer. "The emphasis is on eating a variety of foods, mostly fruits and vegetables, with very little simple sugar or high-fat foods, especially animal foods," said Abby Bloch, Ph.D., R.D., chair of the American Cancer Society. Based on a culmination of years of research, these health experts' conclusion was that animal-source foods, with their high levels of saturated fat, are one of the leading causes of heart disease, cancer, strokes, diabetics, obesity, etc.—all the major chronic diseases that cost 1.4 million Americans their lives each year (more than two-thirds of all deaths in the United States).

Lower Cholesterol Radically

From the revised version of Dr. Fuhrman's book Cholesterol Protection for Life, now available!

We know that populations worldwide with very low cholesterol simply do not have heart attacks. For example, in rural China where the average total cholesterol was found to be 127 and very little animal foods are consumed, less than 5% of the population suffered from heart attacks. These findings, from the China Project, suggest that even small intakes of foods of animal origin are associated with significant increases in plasma cholesterol concentration, which are associated, in turn, with significant increases in heart disease mortality rates.1

By comparison, in the United States more than 40 percent of the population dies of heart attacks. It is a simple fact that if you eat American-style food you will die an American-style death. Don't expect to escape from the biological laws of cause and effect. The Standard American diet is also responsible for our relentless epidemic of obesity and cancer. This book is all about taking charge of our own health destiny through excellent nutrition and not waiting helplessly until a major disease strikes.

In the famous Framingham study, 35 percent of heart disease occurred in those with total cholesterol levels in the range of 150 to 200 mg/dl, but no heart disease deaths occurred in those whose total cholesterol levels were below 150 mg/dl.2

Multiple dietary intervention trials have taken place in our country with diets suggested by the American Heart Association that only offer small improvements over what Americans usually eat. These moderate, politically-correct dietary recommendations have failed to show substantial benefits. Therefore, most medical authorities and physicians place no importance on dietary modifications and instead rely almost exclusively on medications since the "typical" dietary recommendations do not lower cholesterol effectively. Certainly, the "ideal" cardio-protective cholesterol ranges cannot be achieved with traditional dietary recommendations.

The vast majority of people are not aware that the proper diet can heart-attack-proof their body. They do not know that there is a more effective option than the American Heart Association's dietary guidelines. I have no problem with people choosing to eat a diet that places them at risk of heart disease, or people choosing to smoke or to not exercise, that is their right. However, at the very least they should be correctly informed of the dangers of their choices and not have doctors, dieticians and health authorities let them think they are doing all they can to protect themselves.

Unfortunately, economic and political forces make it difficult for Americans to be clearly informed that heart disease is nutritionally-induced by our outmoded and incorrect dietary model. For example, six of the eleven members, including the chairman, of the USDA's Dietary Guidelines Committee in the year 2000 had financial ties to the meat, dairy, and egg industries. Not surprisingly, the foods these industries produce figure prominently in government dietary recommendations in spite of their documented links to increased health risks. Similar problems exist in recommendations by non-profit health organizations who receive funding from industry. Sadly, even the American Heart Association advocates a diet that actually has been shown to increase heart disease.3 The researchers concluded that "the response to the AHA diet is too small to have any value in the clinical management of adults with high cholesterol"

Another problem is that in America, we have been told that compared to the standard American diet, the Mediterranean diet lowers heart disease risk about 30 percent, the Asian diet lowers heart disease risk about 35 percent and the Polynesian diet lowers heart disease risk and so on. I am not satisfied with just reducing my risk somewhat. I want more for myself, my family, and my patients.

My point of view is this--let's use modern nutritional science to the fullest extent and not be satisfied with reducing our risk by 20 to 50 percent; let's reduce our risk by as close to 100 percent as possible. It is possible for you to live a long life with your intellect intact until an uneventful death, without strokes, heart attacks, cancer or dementia. Only nutritional excellence, not drugs can offer all these protective features.

In this day and age, we can use the best features of diets from around the world, and we can use a variety of great-tasting regional recipes. If we understand the precise qualities of each of these diets that account for the benefits and avoid the worthless parts, we can get radically better results. The fact is, every heart disease death is a tragedy, because it simply did not have to happen.

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Lower Your Cholesterol Naturally

Adapted from the revised version of Dr. Fuhrman's book Cholesterol Protection for Life, now available!

There are literally hundreds of respected scientific studies that demonstrate that as animal products increase in a population's diet, cholesterol levels soar and the occurrence of heart disease increases proportionally with the increase in animal product intake.1 Saturated fat is the element of the modern diet that shows the most powerful association in these medical research studies with high cholesterol and premature death from heart attacks.2

Though saturated fat is the most heart-disease-promoting substance in animal products, it is not merely saturated fat and cholesterol in animal products that is the problem. Animal protein raises cholesterol too. Those who cut out red meat and instead eat plenty of chicken and fish do not see substantial changes in their cholesterol levels or a profound reduction in cardiac events.3

If you are looking for maximum protection from heart disease, your diet must receive 90 to 100 percent of its calories from unrefined plant foods. If you choose to include a small amount of animal products in your diet, white meat chicken and white meat turkey are better choices, but if you have more than one or two servings a week, you are not going to see optimal results. One serving of a non-polluted fish a week, and one serving of white meat fowl is the maximum amount of animal products permitted. Any more than that will prevent the huge drop in cholesterol level and heart disease risk observed from eating a plant-based diet style.

Books touting the benefits of high-protein diets for weight-loss are very popular because they appeal to the many Americans who are looking to maintain their addiction to high-fat, nutrient-inadequate, animal foods. These consumers form a huge market for such topsy-turvy, scientific-sounding quackery. All animal products are severely deficient in fiber, phytochemicals, and antioxidants--and contain too much saturated fat, cholesterol, and arachadonic acid.

As animal product consumption goes up in a country or population, so does heart attacks; as animal product utilization goes down, so does heart attacks. One cannot prevent or reverse heart disease while one continues to consume significant amounts of animal foods.


In some countries, such as Mozambique, the Fiji Islands, and Guatemala, where few refined foods are eaten and animal products account for less than 10% of the calories consumed, their populations are virtually free from heart disease.

Guidelines to lower your cholesterol naturally that can save your life

Restrict or eliminate animal products: A few ounces of white meat turkey, once a week and a small piece of fish once a week is the maximum one should consume if seriously looking for cardiac reversal or protection and only these animal products, low in saturated fat should be eaten. If eating animal products, only eat 4-6 ounces of white meat turkey or white meat chicken per week, using them as a condiment in soups or a vegetable dish or sandwich. Low mercury fish such as tilapia, flounder, sole or scrod are also permitted in the range of 4-8 ounces per week. Non-fat dairy or an egg white omelet may also be consumed once per week.

Eliminate all processed grains and sweeteners: No white flour, white rice, processed breakfast cereals, sugar or other sweeteners. Instead, use one serving of whole grains daily such as brown rice, millet amaranth, oats, and barley. If using pasta occasionally, use whole wheat, bean or lentil pasta, not white flour pasta.

Do not use oil: Instead, use nuts and avocado to flavor dressings and sauces. Oil is a high calorie food, with the vast majority of nutrients lost. In comparison, the use of raw nuts and seeds such as flax, walnuts, and sunflower seeds have shown remarkable protective effects for both heart disease and cancer. When you consume your fat in nature's protective package, (nuts and seeds) in place of extracted oils, you get the lignins and flavonoids and other valuable nutrients that support excellent health.

For example, flax seed oil is also oil and just like other oils it contains 120 calories per tablespoon. Ground flax seeds contain lignans, flavonoids beneficial fibers, sterols and a host of other beneficial substances and only has 30 calories per tablespoon. Eat the food not the extracted oil. Excessive amounts of oil are not favorable. Even too much of the benefical oil in flax is linked to higher rates of prostate cancer.4

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Research: The Biggest Danger of the Gridiron is Heart Disease

In his book Eat to Live Dr. Fuhrman claims the training concept of "bulking up," common among NFL lineman, jeopardizes players' long-term health. Steven Reinberg of HealthDay News reports on new research supporting Dr. Fuhrman's position:

"In the general population, there is about a 20 percent incidence of metabolic syndrome," Croft said. "In our cohort of retired NFL players, almost 51 percent of linemen had metabolic syndrome compared to non-linemen."

Among non-linemen, the prevalence of metabolic syndrome was less than that seen among the general population, Croft noted.

Croft thinks these problems are the result of linemen not changing their lifestyle after retirement. These players continue to maintain their weight while not maintaining their previous level of physical activity, she said.

One expert thinks that increasing your weight to play a sport can lead to health problems later on.

"These studies underscore the fact that striving for success on the playing field sometimes ironically leads to worse overall health," said Dr. Byron K. Lee, an assistant professor of cardiology at the University of California, San Francisco. "A similar phenomenon has been also seen in sumo wrestlers."

These studies should not be interpreted as meaning that being a NFL lineman causes cardiovascular disease, Lee said. "The fact is that many former NFL linemen are overweight. This is not surprising after many years of being told to eat more and more because larger size, even due to fat, can be advantageous for linemen," he said.

"We already know that obesity is linked to most, if not all, of the outcomes found in this study. The bottom line, whether you are an NFL lineman or not, is to stay lean," Lee said.