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).