Eat cherries for a healthy heart, a good night's sleep and more

The cherry is a stone fruit, in the same family with plums, apricots, and peaches. The majority of edible cherries have been derived from two species: Prunus avium – the wild cherry (sweet cherries like Bing and Rainier) and Prunus cerasus – the sour cherry (like the Montromorency and Morello varieties).  Most sour cherries here in the U.S. are grown in Michigan with some growing on the East coast as well, and sweet cherries are grown primarily in the Pacific Northwest and Michigan.1 Cherries, especially sour cherries, have a short growing season.  Sweet cherries are generally available between May to August, and sour cherries are available for just a couple of weeks either in mid-June (in warmer areas) or either July-August (in cooler areas).2

Cherries. Flickr: jayneandd

Cherries protect against oxidative stress:

Cherries range in color from yellow and pink to bright red to deep, dark red. The colors of sweet and sour cherries come from their rich supply of anthocyanins, including chlorogenic acid, quercetin, and kaempferol.3,4 Regarding antioxidant content, cherries are some of the highest ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) foods in existence – the ORAC score of sweet cherries ranks just as high as strawberries (though not quite as high as blueberries).5  

Anthocyanins protect the body against oxidative damage in a number of ways: they scavenge free radicals directly, bind to DNA to protect it from oxidative damage, and activate detoxification and antioxidant enzyme systems in the body. Cherry anthocyanins have been shown to protect blood vessels and brain cells against oxidative stress, implying that cherry consumption may help to prevent atherosclerotic plaque formation and neurodegenerative diseases like dementia.3,6 Cherry anthocyanins also slow the growth of human colon cancer cells.7

Cherries reduce inflammation:

Cherries and cherry juice have been used since the 1950s by sufferers of gout and arthritis to ease their symptoms.  Gout results from an overload of uric acid in the blood (hyperuricemia), which accumulates and forms crystals in the joints, causing painful arthritis; cherry consumption has been shown to reduce circulating levels of uric acid, which may be one pathway by which cherries improve gout symptoms.8

New evidence presented in April at the Experimental Biology 2011 meeting related the anti-inflammatory effects of tart cherry juice to both gout and heart disease.  Overweight and obese subjects consumed 8 ounces/day of tart cherry juice or placebo for 4 weeks.  Tart cherry juice consumers experienced reductions in uric acid levels and inflammation markers.  With regard to cardiovascular disease, reductions were also seen in triglycerides, VLDL, and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1), a molecule involved in atherosclerotic plaque formation.9  Previous studies on sweet cherry consumption have similarly documented reductions in C-reactive protein (CRP), another inflammatory molecule that is also a marker of cardiovascular disease risk.10

Cherries act as a natural painkiller:

Cherry extracts inhibit the action of cyclooxygenase-1 (COX-1) and COX-2 enzymes.  These enzymes are important components of the inflammatory process and the sensation of pain. Also, these are the same enzymes that are inhibited by many common pain medications.  In fact, the COX inhibitory activity of cherry anthocyanins is comparable to that of equal concentrations of ibuprofen and naproxen.11,12  This may be another way that cherries and cherry juice can ease symptoms of gout and arthritis, and also may help athletes to cut down on post-workout muscle pain. Distance runners training for a race who drank tart cherry juice twice daily for 8 days (7 days prior to race plus race day) experienced less post-race pain than those who drank a placebo.13 Similarly in strength workouts, tart cherry juice consumers experienced less pain and strength loss over the four following days compared to placebo.14 

Cherries may help you sleep:

Tart cherries are one of the few rich food sources of the hormone and antioxidant melatonin, which regulates the sleep-wake cycle in the human brain.15  Tart cherry juice supplementation has been associated with improvements in sleep quality.16

When we think about high-antioxidant, health-promoting fruits, sometimes cherries are overlooked.  But as you can see here, cherries are an excellent food that benefits the heart, brain, and joints, and may even prevent tumor growth and improve the quality of sleep – and they will be in season very soon, so enjoy them!

 

References:

1. Cherry. Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cherry. Accessed on May 2, 2011.

2. Cherries. Aboutcom Local Foods. http://localfoods.about.com/od/summer/tp/CherriesHub.htm and http://localfoods.about.com/od/cherries/ss/cherryvarieties.htm. Accessed on May 2, 2011.

3. Kim DO, Heo HJ, Kim YJ, et al: Sweet and sour cherry phenolics and their protective effects on neuronal cells. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemis ry 2005;53:9921-9927.

4. Phenolic compounds in sweet and sour cherries. Cornell University. http://ecsoc2.hcc.ru/ecsoc-2/dp260/dp260.htm. Accessed on May 2, 2011.

5. Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity of Selected Foods. 2007. US Department of Agriculture. http://www.ars.usda.gov/sp2userfiles/place/12354500/data/orac/orac07.pdf Accessed on May 2, 2011.

6. Traustadottir T, Davies SS, Stock AA, et al: Tart cherry juice decreases oxidative stress in healthy older men and women. J Nutr 2009;139:1896-1900.

7. Kang SY, Seeram NP, Nair MG, et al: Tart cherry anthocyanins inhibit tumor development in Apc(Min) mice and reduce proliferation of human colon cancer cells. Cancer Lett 2003;194:13-19.

8. Jacob RA, Spinozzi GM, Simon VA, et al: Consumption of cherries lowers plasma urate in healthy women. J Nutr 2003;133:1826-1829.

9. Martin KR, Bopp J, Burrell L, et al: The effect of 100% tart cherry juice on serum uric acid levels, biomarkers of inflammation and cardiovascular disease risk factors. In Experimental Biology 2011. Washington, D.C.: The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology; 2011.

10. Kelley DS, Rasooly R, Jacob RA, et al: Consumption of Bing sweet cherries lowers circulating concentrations of inflammation markers in healthy men and women. J Nutr 2006;136:981-986.

11. McCune LM, Kubota C, Stendell-Hollis NR, et al: Cherries and health: a review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 2011;51:1-12.

12. Seeram NP, Momin RA, Nair MG, et al: Cyclooxygenase inhibitory and antioxidant cyanidin glycosides in cherries and berries. Phytomedicine 2001;8:362-369.

13. Kuehl KS, Perrier ET, Elliot DL, et al: Efficacy of tart cherry juice in reducing muscle pain during running: a randomized controlled trial. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 2010;7:17.

14. Connolly DA, McHugh MP, Padilla-Zakour OI, et al: Efficacy of a tart cherry juice blend in preventing the symptoms of muscle damage. Br J Sports Med 2006;40:679-683; discussion 683.

15. Burkhardt S, Tan DX, Manchester LC, et al: Detection and quantification of the antioxidant melatonin in Montmorency and Balaton tart cherries (Prunus cerasus). Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemis ry 2001;49:4898-4902.

16. Pigeon WR, Carr M, Gorman C, et al: Effects of a tart cherry juice beverage on the sleep of older adults with insomnia: a pilot study. J Med Food 2010;13:579-583.

 

 

Berries help keep blood pressure down

Over 5,000 different flavonoid antioxidants have been identified, many of these in commonly consumed plant foods – there are many different types of flavonoids:

  • Flavanols are the most common, and are abundant in onions, kale, leeks, broccoli, apples, blueberries, red wine, and tea.
  • Less common are the flavones, which are found in celery and parsley.
  • Citrus fruits have high levels of flavanones.
  • Flavan-3-ols, which include catechins, are found in grapes, tea, and cocoa.
  • Soybeans contain isoflavones.
  • Anthocyanins (derivatives of anthocyanidins) are potent antioxidants and pigments that color red, blue, and purple foods like berries, grapes, currants, blood oranges, eggplant, red cabbage, red onions, and some beans and grains.1

In addition to their antioxidant capacity, flavonoids may help the ability of the muscle layer of blood vessels to relax (vasodilation). Endothelial cells, which make up the inner layer of blood vessels, produce nitric oxide in order to regulate blood pressure. There is evidence that flavonoids increase the activity of the enzyme (eNOS; endothelial nitric oxide synthase) in endothelial cells necessary for nitric oxide production.2 In agreement with the idea that flavonoids have beneficial effects on blood pressure, a meta-analysis of 15 studies concluded that regular cocoa consumption can reduce blood pressure in hypertensive and pre-hypertensive individuals.3

Photo of strawberries and blueberriesA new study focuses on the anthocyanins in berries and their effects on blood pressure. Men and women from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study and Nurses’ Health study, respectively were followed for 14 years, and their flavonoid intake was calculated based on the foods they reported eating. Reduced risk for hypertension was found for high intake of anthocyanins (an 8% decrease in risk), as well as apigenin (a flavone) and catechin (a flavan-3-ol). The foods that contributed the bulk of the anthocyanin in the diets of the subjects were blueberries and strawberries.

When the researchers analyzed blueberry consumption specifically they found that compared with those who ate no blueberries, those who ate one serving per week decreased their risk of hypertension by 10%. 4,5

If there was a 10% decrease in hypertension risk for one serving of blueberries per week, imagine how protective it would be to eat one serving of berries every day! Also flavonoids act in several other ways to protect against heart disease, for example by reducing inflammation, LDL oxidation, and platelet aggregation. 1,6 As a result of these effects, several prospective studies have found associations between high flavonoid intake and considerable reductions (up to 45%) in the risk of coronary heart disease.7-10 Flavonoids also have documented anti-cancer properties.11,12

Berries truly are superfoods – they are low in sugar, and high in fiber and phytochemicals, with the highest nutrient to calorie ratio of all fruits. Eating berries daily will not only promote vasodilation, but also provide the body with protection against free radicals, inflammation, and cancer.

 

References:

1. Erdman JW, Jr., Balentine D, Arab L, et al: Flavonoids and heart health: proceedings of the ILSI North America Flavonoids Workshop, May 31-June 1, 2005, Washington, DC. The Journal of nutrition 2007, 137:718S-737S.
2. Galleano M, Pechanova O, Fraga CG: Hypertension, nitric oxide, oxidants, and dietary plant polyphenols. Current pharmaceutical biotechnology 2010, 11:837-848.
3. Ried K, Sullivan T, Fakler P, et al: Does chocolate reduce blood pressure? A meta-analysis. BMC medicine 2010, 8:39.
4. Cassidy A, O'Reilly EJ, Kay C, et al: Habitual intake of flavonoid subclasses and incident hypertension in adults. The American journal of clinical nutrition 2011, 93:338-347.
5. Bioactive Compounds in Berries Can Reduce High Blood Pressure. In ScienceDaily; 2011.
6. Chong MF, Macdonald R, Lovegrove JA: Fruit polyphenols and CVD risk: a review of human intervention studies. The British journal of nutrition 2010, 104 Suppl 3:S28-39.
7. Huxley RR, Neil HA: The relation between dietary flavonol intake and coronary heart disease mortality: a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Eur J Clin Nutr 2003, 57:904-908.
8. Knekt P, Kumpulainen J, Jarvinen R, et al: Flavonoid intake and risk of chronic diseases. The American journal of clinical nutrition 2002, 76:560-568.
9. Mursu J, Voutilainen S, Nurmi T, et al: Flavonoid intake and the risk of ischaemic stroke and CVD mortality in middle-aged Finnish men: the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study. The British journal of nutrition 2008, 100:890-895.
10. Mink PJ, Scrafford CG, Barraj LM, et al: Flavonoid intake and cardiovascular disease mortality: a prospective study in postmenopausal women. The American journal of clinical nutrition 2007, 85:895-909.
11. Androutsopoulos VP, Papakyriakou A, Vourloumis D, et al: Dietary flavonoids in cancer therapy and prevention: substrates and inhibitors of cytochrome P450 CYP1 enzymes. Pharmacol Ther 2010, 126:9-20.
12. Ramos S: Effects of dietary flavonoids on apoptotic pathways related to cancer chemoprevention. The Journal of nutritional biochemistry 2007, 18:427-442.

 

Pesticides commonly found on berries and other fruits may contribute to ADHD

A new study in Pediatrics has made a connection between exposure to organophosphates – pesticides used on berries and other fruit and vegetable crops – and Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children.1

Organophosphates kill agricultural pests by acting as neurotoxins in insects.  Excessive exposure to organophosphates in humans are now  known to have toxic effects. Children are thought to be most vulnerable because the developing brain is especially susceptible to neurotoxic substances. Organophosphate exposure during fetal development and the first 2-3 years of life has previously been linked to detrimental effects on neurodevelopment in young children, including behavioral problems and deficits in memory and motor skills.1,2 High levels of organophosphate metabolites have also been found in children with leukemia.3

Since dysfunctional acetylcholine signaling is thought to be involved in ADHD, and organophosphates act by disrupting acetylcholine signaling, scientists decided to investigate a possible link between organophosphate exposure and ADHD. The researchers pulled data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2000-2004) on urinary metabolites of organophosphates in children 8-15 years of age. 

Their findings showed that children with higher than median excretion of dimethyl thiophosphate, the most common of the organophosphate metabolites, had double the risk of ADHD compared to children with limits below detection. This result is alarming, because it suggests that levels of organophosphate exposure common among U.S. children are capable of promoting ADHD – not just the highest levels of exposure.1

How are children exposed to organophosphates?

fruit

Since organophosphates are commonly sprayed on many agricultural products (including corn, apples, pears, grapes, berries, and peaches), diet is the major source of organophosphate exposure in children.  Insecticides used in and around the home are also potential sources, but diet is believed to be predominant. Forty different organophosphate pesticides are currently in use in the U.S., and based on 2001 estimates 73 million pounds of organophosphates are used per year.1

In 2008, the USDA conducted tests that found malathion (one of the 40 organophosphate pesticides) residues in 28% of frozen blueberries, 25% of strawberries, and 19% of celery.1 The Environmental Working group has found that commercial baby food is the predominant source of organophosphate exposure in infants 6-12 months of age. For young children, the most common culprits are apples, peaches, applesauce, popcorn, grapes, corn chips, and apple juice.4

What can you do to limit exposure?

A study that switched children from conventional to organic foods found a dramatic decrease in urinary metabolites of organophosphates.5  You can reduce your (and your children’s) exposure to organophosphates and other potentially harmful pesticides by buying organic produce whenever possible, especially when buying foods that are most heavily laden with pesticides – celery, strawberries, blueberries, peaches, apples, and grapes  rank among these high-pesticide crops. 

Read more about choosing produce wisely to minimize your family’s exposure to pesticides.

 

References:

1. Bouchard MF, Bellinger DC, Wright RO, et al. Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Urinary Metabolites of Organophosphate Pesticides. Pediatrics 2010;125:e1270–e1277

2. Harari R, Julvez J, Murata K, et al. Neurobehavioral Deficits and Increased Blood Pressure in School-Age Children Prenatally Exposed to Pesticides. Environ Health Perspect. 2010 Feb 25. [Epub ahead of print]

Jurewicz J, Hanke W. Prenatal and childhood exposure to pesticides and neurobehavioral development: review of epidemiological studies. Int J Occup Med Environ Health. 2008;21(2):121-32.

3. Fallon Nevada: FAQs: Organophosphates. http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/clusters/Fallon/organophosfaq.htm

4. Environmental Working Group. Overexposed: Organophosphate Insecticides in Children’s Food. http://www.ewg.org/book/export/html/7877

5. Lu C, Toepel K, Irish R, et al. Organic diets significantly lower children's dietary exposure to organophosphorus pesticides. Environ Health Perspect. 2006 Feb;114(2):260-3.

 

 

Fruits and vegetables provide only modest protection from cancer?

vegetables

 

You’ve probably seen these headlines on the internet or television recently, claiming that fruits and vegetables provide very little protection against cancer. Of course something like this makes big news – it makes eaters of the typical Western diet feel validated in their unhealthy choices. But is it true? Do fruits and vegetables really offer only weak protection against cancer? Let’s look at the details of the study.

Researchers analyzed data from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC), a large study of over 400,000 people. Subjects reported dietary intakes and were followed for approximately 8 years. The researchers reported the associations between fruit and vegetable intake and risk of total cancer. Two-hundred grams of combined fruits and vegetables (approximately 2 servings) offered a 3% decrease in risk that was statistically significant.1 

According to the lead scientist, Dr. Paolo Boffetta, from Mount Sinai Medical Center, “The bottom line here is that, yes, we did find a protective effect of fruit and vegetable intake against cancer, but it is a smaller connection than previously thought. However, eating fruits and vegetables is beneficial for health in general and the results of this study do not justify changing current recommendations aiming at increasing intake of these foods.”2

A tiny amount of plant food offers a tiny amount of benefit.

Yes, 3% is a tiny reduction in risk – but 200 grams is also a tiny amount of fruits and vegetables! One medium apple is approximately 180 grams, one cup of blueberries is 150 grams, and 1 cup of chopped raw broccoli is 90 grams. So keep in mind all these people did is eat the standard cancer-causing diet and add one apple or two cups of vegetables with dinner, they did not follow a vegetable-centered diet. They were still eating all the cancer-causing processed foods and animal products as their major source of calories.

The median daily intake in this study was 335 grams of fruits and vegetables combined per day – only about three servings. According to the CDC, only one-third of U.S. adults eat two or more servings of fruit per day, and only one-quarter of adults eat three or more servings of vegetables per day.3 These minimal amounts cannot be expected to provide disease protection. I recommend a far more substantial intake of fruits and vegetables with 90 percent of calories coming from nutrient rich plant material, lots of it raw and green. I recommend about two pounds of vegetables per day (approximately 900 grams) and at least 4 fresh fruits per day (which adds another 600 grams). Most importantly, attention should be paid to the highly cancer-protective plant foods, greens, onion, berries, beans and seeds. 

The more fruits and vegetables the subjects ate, the more cancer protection they got.

Many of the news stories on this subject neglected to mention the fact that the researchers found a dose-response relationship between fruit and vegetable intake and cancer risk – this means that as the number of servings increased, rates of cancer decreased. Those eating five servings per day reduced their risk by 9% compared with those eating 2.5 or less, and those eating more than eight servings per day reduced their risk by 11%.4 The benefits of lifestyle changes are proportional to the changes made. As we add more vegetable servings, we increase our phytochemical intake and leave less room in our diet for harmful foods, enhancing cancer protection even further. 

Different fruits and vegetables offer different levels of protection.

In this study, all fruits and vegetables were lumped together in one category – this could have diluted the results. Leafy greens and potatoes have nutrient profiles that are quite different, but in this study, they are both treated the same.   The participants did not eat an extra 200 grams of raw greens - French fries and ketchup counted as a vegetable.

Cruciferous vegetables, such as kale, cabbage, collards, and broccoli, contain potent chemopreventive compounds called isothiocyanates (ITCs). ITCs have a variety of anti-cancer actions including inhibition of angiogenesis (blood vessel formation; important for tumor growth), detoxification or removal of carcinogens, inhibition of cancer cell growth, promotion of cancer cell death, and prevention of DNA damage by carcinogens. Epidemiological studies suggest that cruciferous vegetables, onions, and mushrooms are far more protective against cancer than vegetables overall - inverse relationships between cruciferous vegetable intake and breast, prostate, lung, and colorectal cancers have been found.5  For example, in one prospective study, one or more servings per week of cabbage reduced the risk of pancreatic cancer by 38%.6 And that was just one serving a week, demonstrating dramatic protection is available and real when a diet is ideally designed. The regular consumption of mushrooms has been demonstrated to decrease risk of breast cancer by over 60 percent.7 Onions, berries, seeds and beans also have dramatic beneficial effects.8 In other words, high nutrient plant foods work synergistically and a well designed diet can offer dramatic protection against not just cancer, but heart disease, strokes and dementia.

Healthful eating is a lifetime commitment

The EPIC study followed adult subjects for 8 years, but the foundation of adult cancers was very likely laid down in childhood or early adulthood.9   These researchers missed the most important tenet of nutritional research and that is—childhood diets are the major cause of adult cancers. I wrote a book about this—Disease-Proof Your Child, with all the supporting scientific references. The protective substances contained in fruits and vegetables are more effective if they are consistently present in the diet since childhood.  Making moderate changes later in life, like adding a serving of fruit and vegetables, is not likely to make much of an impact on cancer risk. For later life changes to dramatically reduce cancer risk a total dietary makeover is required, that is one of the purposes of my nutritarian diet-style, to offer people real protection from an ideally designed diet that is adopted later in life.

Conclusion

Most people are confused about nutrition, and results like these can add to the confusion. There is clear evidence that unrefined plant foods protect against chronic disease, but modest nutritional improvements offer only modest health benefits. Cutting back on cigarettes does not offer much protection against lung cancer either.  It is the total package of a well-designed, nutrient-dense diet, regular exercise, and a healthy weight that offers optimal benefit. We can win the war on cancer.

 

References:

1. Boffetta P, Couto E, Wichmann J, et al. Fruit and Vegetable Intake and Overall Cancer Risk in the European Prospective Investigation Into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC). J Natl Cancer Inst. 2010 Apr 6.[Epub ahead of print]

2. Mount Sinai Study Shows Only a Weak Link Between Fruit and Vegetable Intake and Reduced Risk of Cancer. http://mountsinai.org/about-us/newsroom/press-releases/mount-sinai-study-shows-only-a-weak-link-between-fruit-and-vegetable-intake-and-reduced-risk-of-cancer

3. U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Fruit and Vegetable Consumption Among Adults --- United States, 2005. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report March 16, 2007 / 56(10);213-217

4. NewScientist. Short Sharp Science: Five fruit and veg a day won't keep cancer away. http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/shortsharpscience/2010/04/five-fruit-and-veg-a-day-wont.html

5. Higdon JV et al. Cruciferous Vegetables and Human Cancer Risk: Epidemiologic Evidence and Mechanistic Basis. Pharmacol Res. 2007 March ; 55(3): 224–236

6. Larsson SC, Hakansson N, Naslund I, Bergkvist L, Wolk A. Fruit and vegetable consumption in relation to pancreatic cancer: a prospective study. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2006;15:301–305.

7. Zhang M, et al. Dietary intakes of mushrooms and green tea combine to reduce the risk of breast cancer in Chinese women. Int J Cancer. 2009;124:1404-1408

8. Powolny AA, Singh SV. Multitargeted prevention and therapy of cancer by diallyl trisulfide and related Allium vegetable-derived organosulfur compounds. Cancer Lett. 2008 Oct 8;269(2):305-14.

Stoner GD, Wang LS, Casto BC. Laboratory and clinical studies of cancer chemoprevention by antioxidants in berries. Carcinogenesis. 2008 Sep;29(9):1665-74.

Aune D, De Stefani E, Ronco A, et al. Legume intake and the risk of cancer: a multisite case-control study in Uruguay. Cancer Causes Control. 2009 Nov;20(9):1605-15.

Jenab M, Ferrari P, Slimani N, et al. Association of nut and seed intake with colorectal cancer risk in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2004 Oct;13(10):1595-603.

9. Maynard M, Gunnell D, Emmett P, Frankel S, Davey Smith G. Fruit, vegetables, and antioxidants in childhood and risk of adult cancer: the Boyd Orr cohort. JEpidemiol Community Health. 2003 Mar;57(3):218-25. Erratum in: J Epidemiol Community Health. 2007 Mar;61(3):271.

Fuemmeler BF, Pendzich MK, Tercyak KP. Weight, Dietary Behavior, and Physical Activity in Childhood and Adolescence: Implications for Adult Cancer Risk. Obes Facts. 2009;2(3):179-186.

Fresh Fruits Drop the Hammer on Cancer!

Fresh fruits are an important component of the natural diet of all primates. Humans and other primates have color vision and the ability to appreciate sweets. We are designed this way so that we can recognize ripe fruits and be attracted to them. We have a natural sweet tooth designed to direct us to those foods most critical for our survival, but sugar and candy manufacturers also know that bright colors and sweet tastes are instinctually attractive. They have used that knowledge to their advantage. Remember, your instinctual reaction is designed to lead you to fruit—not sugary, processed foods. Fruit is an indispensable requirement to maintain a high level of health. Fruit consumption has been shown to offer the strongest protection against certain cancers, especially oral, esophageal, lung, prostate, and pancreatic cancer.1

Researchers also have discovered substances in fruit that have unique effects on preventing aging and deterioration of the brain. Some fruits, particularly berries, are rich in phytochemicals that have anti-aging effects. Berries are an excellent, nutrient-dense, low-calorie source of vitamins and phytochemicals. Researchers have seen that blueberries also have protective effects for brain health in later life.2 In addition, certain pectins—natural parts of the cellular makeup of fruits such as oranges, kiwis, and pomegranates—also lower cholesterol and protect against cardiovascular disease.3

As you can see, fruit is vital to your health and well-being and can contribute to lengthening your life. While our natural, sweet desires are usually satisfied by convenient “treats,” we can use fresh and frozen fruits to make delicious desserts that are healthy and taste great. Book Two provides many delicious and easy fruit recipes to satisfy your sweet tooth in a healthy manner. When you complete your evening meal with one of those recipes—a frozen strawberry sorbet, a cantaloupe slush, or simply a bowl of fresh berries—you are putting the finishing touches on a meal that will satisfy your desire for a sweet food, while intellectually satisfying your desire to be healthy and wise.

This is an excerpt from Dr. Fuhrman’s book Eat For Health.

1. Jansen MC, Bueno-de-Mesquita HB, Feskens EJ, et al. Quantity and variety of fruit and vegetable consumption and cancer risk. Nutr Cancer. 2004;48(2):142-148.

2. Lau FC, Shukitt-Hale B, Joseph JA. The beneficial effects of fruit polyphenols on brain aging. Neurobiol Aging. 2005;26(Suppl 1):128-132.

3. Gorinstein S, Caspi A, Libman I, et al. Red grapefruit positively influences serum triglyceride level in patients suffering from coronary atherosclerosis: studies in vitro and in humans. J Agric Food Chem. 2006;54(5):1887-1892. Aviram M, Rosenblat M, Gaitini D, et al. Pomegranate juice consumption for 3 years by patients with carotid artery stenosis reduces common carotid intima-media thickness, blood pressure and LDL oxidation. Clin Nutr. 2004;23(3):423-433. Duttaroy AK, Jørgensen A. Effects of kiwi fruit consumption on platelet aggregation and plasma lipids in healthy human volunteers. Platelets 2004;15(5):287-292.

Image credit: Aly K.

Animal Fat Increases Risk of Pancreatic Cancer

Published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, a new study claims high intake of saturated fat—specifically red meat and dairy—results in a 36% higher risk of pancreatic cancer, compared to people with lower consumption. And a high in take of total fat lead to a 53% increased risk of pancreatic cancer in men and 23% higher risk in women. Scientists examined data on 500,000 individuals, in which 1,337 were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer; Food Navigator reports.

Meat, i.e. saturated fat, is risky and research paints a grim picture. Previous studies have linked meat with higher risk of heart disease, age-related vision loss and various cancers. Fortunately, foods like fruits and vegetables lower the risk of developing cancer and cardiovascular disease.

In related news, experts found people who regularly eat charred or barbecued meat have a 60% higher risk of pancreatic cancer. Burned meat builds up of cancer-causing heterocyclic amines.

Image credit: wickenden

Mediterranean Diet, Vegetables May Extend Life...

Appearing in the British Medical Journal, a new study claims the Mediterranean diet—i.e. eating a lot of fruits and vegetables and avoiding meat, alcohol and dairy products—increases lifespan. Researchers examined the eating habits of 23,000 Greeks over 10 years, finding the presence of a diet rich in vegetables yielded health benefits, but when the heavy consumption of vegetables was removed, these benefits were negated; HealthDay News reports.

Sadly, many Mediterranean countries are loosing ground. In 2008, childhood obesity in Portugal, Spain and Italy jumped 30%. According to Dr. Fuhrman, all those healthy Mediterranean foods are giving way to western foods. That’s why the Mediterranean is getting fat, just like us!

And last September, a report revealed countries like Spain, Italy and Greece are buckling under the weight of fast food and the move away from their traditional dietary roots.

Image credit: ...-Wink-...

Plant-Based, Low-Calorie Diet Lowers Heart Risks

New research in the Archives of Internal Medicine claim plant-based diets promote weight-loss and reduce risk of heart disease. For the study, participants—overweight men and women with high LDL—were fed a diet rich in vegetables, nuts and fruits or a typical low-fat diet. Findings revealed both groups lost weight, but people on the vegetable-based diet had better cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure. Here are Dr. Fuhrman’s thoughts on the study:

It’s a pretty good effort. They are getting closer to the ideal diet—a nutritarian diet—by studying a vegetarian diet with reduction of flour and other high glycemic carbohydrates.

Of course, the results are pretty good, but it is evident these researchers lack the knowledge and clinical experience designing a diet-style for nutritional excellence.

We have a pilot study coming out shortly with results that dwarf this.

Via Newswise.

Image credit: *tamara*

Healthy Additions Summer Special!

Having a hard time sticking to your diet? Too busy to prepare healthy food?

I take pride in creating the healthiest and most nutritious products that also taste great. These nutrient-packed soups are hearty, filling, and full of flavor.

Not only are they health promoting, but a great way to jump start a weight loss program.

So if you are looking to slim down for the summer, keep these ready to heat and serve soups in the pantry. Incorporate them as a staple with your daily menu along with other fresh, seasonal fruit and vegetables.

Instead of eating out or picking up fattening, unhealthy commercial food, try this easy to follow, health and weight loss promoting menu plan. You'll be amazed by the results!

  • Breakfast: Green Smoothie or Fresh fruit with 1 oz. of nuts or seeds

Please visit DrFuhrman.com for recipe ideas.

 

Image credit: DrFuhrman.com

Ha Ha! Atkins Diet Raises Heart Risks, Duh!

More bad news for the Atkins fad, published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association new research reveals the high-protein, i.e. high-saturated, Atkins diet reduces blood vessel dilation, an important factor in heart health. Scientists placed 18 healthy people on three different diets, the Atkins diet (50% fat) and two others lower in saturated fat, 30% and 10%. Four weeks after completing the experiment, Atkins participants performed the worst on a blood vessel test. Atkins Nutritionals had no intelligent rebuttal; HealthDay News reports.

High-fat diets are dangerous. A couple years ago, a study linked the Atkins diet with inflammation linked with heart and artery disease. Atkins himself was overweight and had heart problems. In addition to heart problems, consuming copious amounts of meat, i.e. saturated fat, and little to no fiber and fruit, heightens risk of colon cancer and other cancers. Recently, hotdogs were tied to leukemia risk and red meat with blindness.

In related news, a previous report showed low-carb high-protein diets sap people’s energy and discourage activity and another study revealed Atkins produced only modest weight-loss results with limited sustainability in the long run. Tisk, tisk.

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