Fatty Facts

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

  • Saturated fat has the most powerful causative relationship with heart disease and cancer.
  • Besides sugar, butter and cheese contribute the most calories to children’s diets in America.
  • The food with the highest saturated fat content in the American diet is butter and cheese.

Cheese consumption has tripled in American in the last thirty years, and cheese is included as part of almost every meal. It’s melted on burgers and chicken breasts, sprinkled on salads melted over bread and pasta. It’s not surprising that cheese gives us more (artery-clogging) saturated fat than any other food.

Heart disease begins in our youth and is not easy to reverse. No one should eat more than five grams of saturated fat a day. Over this level, disease rates climb.

All food derived from animals contain cholesterol and tend to be high in the thick, heavy fats called saturated fats. Most plant foods are very low in saturated fat, except for some tropical plant oils like palm and coconut oil that are naturally saturated.

Reducing the consumption of animal foods reduces the consumption of cholesterol and saturated fat. Low intake of cholesterol and saturated fat leads to a leaner body, clean arteries, and reducing risk of developing heart disease and many other diet-related diseases such as stroke, breast cancer, colon cancer, diabetes, and obesity.

Treating Diabetes: Scientists Warming To Plant-Based Diet

Dr. Fuhrman advocates a plant-based diet because it is the most optimal diet-style for diabetes reversal, weight-loss, and the prevention of heart disease. Sally Squires of The Washington Post explains many scientists are beginning to acknowledge its superior advantages as well:
People with Type 2 diabetes are advised to limit carbohydrates because of worries that too many carbs could overtax the body's dwindling insulin production and lessen its ability to process glucose.

Now some scientists are asking if a very-low-fat diet rich in healthy carbohydrates—whole grains, beans, fruit and vegetables—might be another option.
This prompted scientists to conduct a study comparing the standard dietary advice from the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the vegetable-based diet-style of Dr. Dean Ornish:
The four-month trial, funded by the National Institutes of Health, studied 99 people with Type 2 diabetes. Half were asked to follow the standard dietary advice from the American Diabetes Association (ADA). The other half were asked to adhere to a very strict, low-fat vegan diet devoid of meat, fish, eggs, dairy or any other animal products.

Both groups improved blood sugar control and LDL cholesterol levels. Both lost weight, but the vegan group shed an average of 15 pounds, compared with six for the ADA group. As in the Ornish study, the vegan group showed no harmful changes in either HDL or triglyceride levels.
The results of the study demonstrate the overall efficiency and effectiveness of a “vegan” or a plant-based diet. Additionally 20 percent of participants following the vegetable-based diet for a year were able to cut or eliminate their insulin and other glucose-lowering medication.

Squires concludes her report with these three recommendations for those trying to overcome diabetes through diet:
Eat more plant-based foods. The more variety, the better. Groups that recommend eating more beans, vegetables (without added fat), fruit (sans added sugar) and whole grains include the American Heart Association, the National Cancer Institute, the Institute of Medicine, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the American Diabetes Association, the American Cancer Society and the American Institute for Cancer Research.

Easy on the fat. Gram for gram, fat contains more than twice the calories of protein or carbs. Being overweight or obese is a major risk factor for diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancer. Whatever fat you eat, make it healthy. Skip saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol found in whole milk dairy products, fatty meat and poultry with the skin. Reach instead for fish, healthy oil such as canola or olive oil, healthy margarine, nuts, avocados and seeds.

Get plenty of exercise.
The Diabetes Prevention Program—a large federally funded study of people who were just a step shy of developing diabetes—found that brisk daily exercise (yes, walking is fine) played an important part in preventing diabetes. The study found 30 minutes daily was required, but that can be broken into 10-minute increments.

Eating to Age Rapidly and Die Prematurely

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

Certain foods lead to superior health and other foods lead to ill health. It is impossible to earn excellent health while consuming disease-causing foods. One cannot escape from the biological laws of cause and effect. It is impossible to eat the American diet without the eventual development of a serious disease. Autopsy studies on adult Americans who die in car accidents show over 95% have atherosclerotic heart disease. The only reason why more than 50% do not die of heart attacks and strokes is that cancer or some other illness gets them first.

Heart disease and strokes kill over half of all Americans.

If you eat the typical American diet, you will likely die of typical American diseases. In the typical American diet 40% of calories come from animal foods such as dairy, meat, eggs, and chicken, and 50% of calories come from processed foods such as pasta, bread, soda, oils, sugar, puffed cereals, pretzels, and other adulterated products. Cancer and heart disease is the consequence.

Americans consume only about 7% of their calories from unrefined plant foods defined as fruits, vegetables, beans/legumes, and whole grains. These unrefined plant foods are rich in fiber and anti-cancer nutrients, yet Americans eat very little of these nourishing foods.

Refined grain products, such as white bread, pasta, bagels, white rice, most breakfast cereals, and other denatured and processed grains are almost as nutrient-deficient as sugar. The nutritional value of these “foods” falls very low on the scale compared to healthful foods.

In a six-year study of 65,000 women, the women with diets high in refined carbohydrates from white bread, white rice, and pasta had two-and-a-half times the incidence of Type II diabetes, compared with those who ate high-fiber foods, such as vegetables, beans/legumes, whole grains, and fresh fruit.

Diabetes is not a lightweight problem; it is the fourth leading cause of death by disease in America, and the number of people developing diabetes is soaring. White flour, other refined grains such as sweetened breakfast cereals, soft drinks, other sweets, and even fruit juices are weight promoting and not only lead to diabetes, but can raise triglycerides and cholesterol levels, increasing heart-attack risk.

Every time you eat processed foods you not only exclude the important known nutrients from your diet, but also hundreds of other undiscovered phytonutrients that are essential for normal, human function. For instance, it is the outer portion of the wheat kernel (the part that is removed when white flour is made) that contains trace minerals, phytoestrogens, lignins, phytic acid, indoles, phenolic compounds and other phytochemicals, as well as all of the vitamin E. It is the diversity of micronutrients, both known and unknown, that are necessary to ward off cancer.

Additionally, when we eat baked goods, cold breakfast cereals, pretzels, and other snack foods, we are getting heart-disease-promoting trans fats and a high dose of acrylamides. Acrylamides are toxic, cancer-promoting compounds produced when foods are baked or fried at high temperatures. Chips, pretzels, cold breakfast cereals, roasted soy nuts, browned foods, crusted foods, and fried foods contain high levels of these toxic compounds that are formed when carbohydrates are exposed to high dry heat. These harmful compounds are not formed when foods are water cooked, when you steam vegetables or make soups for example.

Refined or processed foods also include salad oil. All oils are 120 calories per tablespoon and nutrient-poor. Oils leave behind the fiber and most of the nutrients that were in the original food. When eating these oils we consume more “empty” or nutrient poor calories, reducing the nutrient density of our dietary intake. Refined oils, such as olive oil, are removed from nature’s protective packaging, rich in nutrients and antioxidants. They may be a big improvement over butter and margarine (containing saturated and trans fats) but they still promote weight gain and therefore are not heart disease favorable.

High Fructose Corn Syrup: It's Still Junk

Like the air we breathe High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is seemingly all around us. According to the Melanie Warner of The New York Times even unlikely foods like yogurt and salad dressing contain “the Devil’s Candy.” Most people contend HFCS has helped spawn the current obesity epidemic, but others don’t see such a connection.

Take Dr. Walter Willet for example:

"There's no substantial evidence to support the idea that high-fructose corn syrup is somehow responsible for obesity," said Dr. Walter Willett, the chairman of the nutrition department of the Harvard School of Public Health and a prominent proponent of healthy diets. "If there was no high-fructose corn syrup, I don't think we would see a change in anything important. I think there's this overreaction."

Dr. Willett says that he is not defending high-fructose corn syrup as a healthy ingredient, but that he simply thinks that the product is no worse than the refined white sugar it replaces, since both offer easily consumed calories with no nutrients in them. High fructose corn syrup's possible link to obesity is the only specific health problem that the ingredient's critics have cited to date — and experts say they believe that this link is tenuous, at best.

Dr. Fuhrman spends very little time differentiating HFCS from traditional refined white sugar, explaining that both are dangerous and should be avoided; each one contributes to disease. Consider this excerpt from Eat to Live:

Refined sugars include table sugar (sucrose), milk sugar (lactose), honey, brown sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, molasses, corn sweeteners, and fruit juice concentrates. Even the bottled and boxed fruit juices that many children drink are poor food; with no significant nutrient density, they lead to obesity and disease.1

But for skeptics of the overall association between HFCS and obesity, check out this section from a previous post: Adapted from Dr. Fuhrman’s book Disease Proof Your Child.

Obesity rates have risen in tandem with soda consumption, and in the last twenty years the consumption of soft drinks by teenagers had doubled.2 Twelve to nineteen-year-old boys consume thirty-four teaspoons of sugar a day in their diet, and about half of that comes from soft drinks. Children start drinking soft drinks at a very young age, and advertisements and promotions by the soft drink manufacturers are aggressively marketed to the young.


Source: Data from the National Soft Drink Association, Beverage World, published by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (www.cspinet.org)

Soft drinks and processed foods are full of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). HFCS is not only fattening, but this inexpensive and ultra-concentrated sugar has no resemblance to real food made by nature. It is another experiment thrust upon our unsuspecting children with unknown dangerous consequences. Besides sugar, corn syrup, and chemicals, these drinks often contain caffeine, an addictive stimulant. Children crave more and more as they get older. By adolescence most children have become soft-drink addicts. It is no surprise that six out of the seven most popular soft drinks contain caffeine. Contrast this high level of sugary “liquid candy” with the meager intake of fresh produce by children and teenagers, and it is no surprise that we have an obesity epidemic beyond all expectations.

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