GOMBBS: Greens, Onions, Mushrooms, Berries, Beans, and Seeds

GOMBBS” is an acronym you can use to remember the most nutrient-dense, health-promoting foods on the planet.   These are the foods you should eat every day, and they should make up a significant proportion of your diet – these foods are extremely effective at preventing chronic disease and promoting health and longevity.

G – Greens

Greens Flickr: thebittenword.com

Raw leafy greens contain only about 100 calories per pound, and are packed with nutrients. Leafy greens contain substances that protect blood vessels, and are associated with reduced risk of diabetes.Greens are an excellent tool for weight loss, since they can be consumed in virtually unlimited quantities. Leafy greens are also the most nutrient-dense of all foods, but unfortunately are only consumed in miniscule amounts in a typical American diet. We should follow the example of our closest living relatives – chimpanzees and gorillas – who consume tens of pounds of green leaves every day. The majority of calories in green vegetables, including leafy greens, come from protein, and this plant protein is packaged with beneficial phytochemicals: Green vegetables are rich in folate (the natural form of folic acid), calcium, and contain small amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.  Leafy greens are also rich in antioxidant pigments called carotenoids, specifically lutein and zeaxanthin, which are the carotenoids known to promote healthy vision.2 Also, several leafy greens and other green vegetables (such as bok choy, broccoli, and kale) belong to the cruciferous family of vegetables.

All vegetables contain protective micronutrients and phytochemicals, but cruciferous vegetables have a unique chemical composition; they contain glucosinolates, and when their cell walls are broken by blending, chopping, or chewing, a chemical reaction converts glucosinolates to isothiocyanates (ITCs) - compounds with a variety of potent anti-cancer effects. Because different ITCs can work in different locations in the cell and on different molecules, they can have combined additive effects, working synergistically to remove carcinogens, reduce inflammation, neutralize oxidative stress, inhibit angiogenesis (the process by which tumors acquire a blood supply), and kill cancer cells.3

O – Onions

Onions, along with leeks, garlic, shallots, and scallions, make up the Allium family of vegetables, which have beneficial effects on the cardiovascular and immune systems, as well as anti-diabetic and anti-cancer effects. Allium vegetables are known for their characteristic organosulfur compounds, Similar to the ITCs in cruciferous vegetables, organosulfur compounds are released when onions are chopped, crushed, or chewed. Epidemiological studies have found that increased consumption of Allium vegetables is associated with lower risk of gastric and prostate cancers.    These compounds prevent the development of cancers by detoxifying carcinogens, halting cancer cell growth, and blocking angiogenesis.4 Onions also contain high concentrations of health-promoting flavonoid antioxidants, predominantly quercetin, and red onions also contain at least 25 different anthocyanins.5,6 Quercetin slows tumor development, suppresses growth and proliferation and induces cell death in colon cancer cells.7 Flavonoids also have anti-inflammatory effects that may contribute to cancer prevention.8

 

M - Mushrooms

 

Mushroom. Flickr: Steve Hopson

Consuming mushrooms regularly is associated with decreased risk of breast, stomach, and colorectal cancers.  In one recent Chinese study, women who ate at least 10 grams of fresh mushrooms each day (about one mushroom per day) had a 64% decreased risk of breast cancer. Even more dramatic protection was gained by women who ate 10 grams of mushrooms and drank green tea daily - an 89% decrease in risk for premenopausal women, and 82% for postmenopausal women.9,10 White, cremini, portobello, oyster, shiitake, maitake, and reishi mushrooms all have anti-cancer properties - some are anti-inflammatory, stimulate the immune system, prevent DNA damage, slow cancer cell growth, cause programmed cancer cell death, or inhibit angiogenesis.In addition to these properties, mushrooms are unique in that they contain aromatase inhibitors - compounds that can block the production of estrogen. These compounds are thought to be largely responsible for the preventive effects of mushrooms against breast cancer - in fact, there are aromatase-inhibiting drugs on the market that are used to treat breast cancer. Regular consumption of dietary aromatase inhibitors is an excellent strategy for prevention, and it turns out that even the most commonly eaten mushrooms (white, cremini, and portobello) have high anti-aromatase activity.11

B – Berries

Blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries are true super foods. Naturally sweet and juicy, berries are low in sugar and high in nutrients - they are among the best foods you can eat. Their vibrant colors mean that they are full of antioxidants, including flavonoids and antioxidant vitamins - berries are some of the highest antioxidant foods in existence. Berries’ plentiful antioxidant content confers both cardioprotective and anti-cancer effects, such as reducing blood pressure, reducing inflammation, preventing DNA damage, inhibiting tumor angiogenesis, and stimulating of the body’s own antioxidant enzymes.  Berry consumption has been linked to reduced risk of diabetes, cancers and cognitive decline.12 Berries are an excellent food for the brain – berry consumption improves both motor coordination and memory.13

B - Beans

Beans (and other legumes as well) are a powerhouse of superior nutrition, and the most nutrient-dense carbohydrate source. They act as an anti-diabetes and weight-loss food because they are digested slowly, having a stabilizing effect on blood sugar, which promotes satiety and helps to prevent food cravings. Plus they contain soluble fiber, which lowers cholesterol levels.14 Beans are unique foods because of their very high levels of fiber and resistant starch, carbohydrates that are not broken down by digestive enzymes.  Fiber and resistant starch not only reduce the total number of calories absorbed from beans, but are also fermented by intestinal bacteria into fatty acids that help to prevent colon cancer. Eating beans, peas, or lentils at least twice a week has been found to decrease colon cancer risk by 50%. 15,16 Legume intake also provides significant protection against oral, larynx, pharynx, stomach, and kidney cancers.17

S - Seeds

Seeds. Flickr: Tobias Klupfel

Nuts and seeds contain healthy fats and are rich in a spectrum of micronutrients including phytosterols, minerals, and antioxidants. Countless studies have demonstrated the cardiovascular benefits of nuts, and including nuts in the diet aids in weight maintenance and diabetes prevention.18,19 The nutritional profiles of seeds are similar to nuts when it comes to healthy fats, minerals, and antioxidants, but seeds are also abundant in trace minerals, higher in protein than nuts, and each kind of seed is nutritionally unique. Flax, chia, and hemp seeds are extremely rich sources of omega-3 fats. In addition to the omega-3s, flaxseeds are rich in fiber and lignans. Flaxseed consumption protects against heart disease by a number of different mechanisms, and lignans, which are present in both flaxseeds and sesame seeds, have anti-cancer effects.20 Sunflower seeds are especially rich in protein and minerals.  Pumpkin seeds are rich in iron and calcium and are a good source of zinc. Sesame seeds have the greatest amount of calcium of any food in the world, and provide abundant amounts of vitamin E. Also, black sesame seeds are extremely rich in antioxidants.21 The healthy fats in seeds and nuts also aid in the absorption of nutrients when eaten with vegetables.

 

References:


1. Carter P, Gray LJ, Troughton J, et al. Fruit and vegetable intake and incidence of type 2 diabetes mellitus: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ. 2010 Aug 18;341:c4229.

Journal of Clinical Investigation (2011, March 24). High levels of dietary nitrate might in part explain the vascular benefits of diets rich in leafy greens. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 30, 2011, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2011/03/110323135631.htm

2. Stringham JM, Bovier ER, Wong JC, Hammond BR Jr. The influence of dietary lutein and zeaxanthin on visual performance. J Food Sci. 2010 Jan-Feb;75(1):R24-9.

3. Higdon JV, Delage B, Williams DE, Dashwood RH. Cruciferous vegetables and human cancer risk: epidemiologic evidence and mechanistic basis. Pharmacol Res. 2007 Mar;55(3):224-36.

Cavell BE, Syed Alwi SS, Donlevy A, et al., Anti-angiogenic effects of dietary isothiocyanates: mechanisms of action and implications for human health. Biochem. Pharmacol., 2011. 81(3): p. 327-36.

4. 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.

5. Pierini R, Gee JM, Belshaw NJ, et al. Flavonoids and intestinal cancers. Br J Nutr. 2008 May;99 E Suppl 1:ES53-9.

6. Slimestad R, Fossen T, Vågen IM. Onions: a source of unique dietary flavonoids. J Agric Food Chem. 2007 Dec 12;55(25):10067-80.

7. Miyamoto S, Yasui Y, Ohigashi H, et al. Dietary flavonoids suppress azoxymethane-induced colonic preneoplastic lesions in male C57BL/KsJ-db/db mice. Chem Biol Interact. 2010 Jan 27;183(2):276-83.

Shan BE, Wang MX, Li RQ. Quercetin inhibit human SW480 colon cancer growth in association with inhibition of cyclin D1 and survivin expression through Wnt/beta-catenin signaling pathway. Cancer Invest. 2009 Jul;27(6):604-12.

Xavier CP, Lima CF, Preto A, et al. Luteolin, quercetin and ursolic acid are potent inhibitors of proliferation and inducers of apoptosis in both KRAS and BRAF mutated human colorectal cancer cells. Cancer Lett. 2009 Aug 28;281(2):162-70.

8. Ravasco P, Aranha MM, Borralho PM, et al. Colorectal cancer: Can nutrients modulate NF-kappaB and apoptosis? Clin Nutr. 2010 Feb;29(1):42-46.

9. Hong SA, Kim K, Nam SJ, et al: A case-control study on the dietary intake of mushrooms and breast cancer risk among Korean women. Int J Cancer 2008, 122:919-923.

Shin A, Kim J, Lim SY, et al: Dietary mushroom intake and the risk of breast cancer based on hormone receptor status. Nutr Cancer 2010, 62:476-483.

Zhang M, Huang J, Xie X, 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.

10. Hara M, Hanaoka T, Kobayashi M, et al: Cruciferous vegetables, mushrooms, and gastrointestinal cancer risks in a multicenter, hospital-based case-control study in Japan. Nutr Cancer 2003, 46:138-147.

11. Chen S, Oh SR, Phung S, et al: Anti-aromatase activity of phytochemicals in white button mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus). Cancer Res 2006, 66:12026-12034.

12. Bazzano LA, Li TY, Joshipura KJ, Hu FB. Intake of fruit, vegetables, and fruit juices and risk of diabetes in women. Diabetes Care. 2008 Jul;31(7):1311-7.

Hannum SM. Potential impact of strawberries on human health: a review of the science. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2004;44(1):1-17.

Joseph JA, Shukitt-Hale B, Willis LM. Grape juice, berries, and walnuts affect brain aging and behavior. J Nutr. 2009 Sep;139(9):1813S-7S.

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

Cassidy A, O'Reilly EJ, Kay C, et al: Habitual intake of flavonoid subclasses and incident hypertension in adults. Am J Clin Nutr 2011, 93:338-347.

Roy S, Khanna S, Alessio HM, et al: Anti-angiogenic property of edible berries. Free Radic Res 2002, 36:1023-1031.

13. Bickford PC, Shukitt-Hale B, Joseph J. Effects of aging on cerebellar noradrenergic function and motor learning: nutritional interventions. Mech Ageing Dev. 1999 Nov;111(2-3):141-54.

Krikorian R, Shidler MD, Nash TA, et al. Blueberry supplementation improves memory in older adults. J Agric Food Chem. 2010 Apr 14;58(7):3996-4000.

14. Bazzano LA, Thompson AM, Tees MT, et al. Non-soy legume consumption lowers cholesterol levels: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis 2011 Feb;21(2):94-103.

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.

15. O'Keefe SJ, Ou J, Aufreiter S, et al. Products of the colonic microbiota mediate the effects of diet on colon cancer risk. J Nutr. 2009 Nov;139(11):2044-8.

16. Singh PN, Fraser GE. Dietary risk factors for colon cancer in a low-risk population. Am J Epidemiol. 1998 Oct 15;148(8):761-74.

17. 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.

18. Nash SD, Nash DT. Nuts as part of a healthy cardiovascular diet. Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2008 Dec;10(6):529-35.

Sabaté J, Ang Y. Nuts and health outcomes: new epidemiologic evidence. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 May;89(5):1643S-1648S.

Mattes RD et al. Impact of peanuts and tree nuts on body weight and healthy weight loss in adults. J Nutr. 2008 Sep;138(9):1741S-1745S.

Natoli S, McCoy P. A review of the evidence: nuts and body weight. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2007;16(4):588-97

19. Kendall CW, Josse AR, Esfahani A, Jenkins DJ. Nuts, metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Br J Nutr. 2010 Aug;104(4):465-73.

20. Bassett CM, Rodriguez-Leyva D, Pierce GN. Experimental and clinical research findings on the cardiovascular benefits of consuming flaxseed. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2009 Oct;34(5):965-74.

Webb AL, McCullough ML. Dietary lignans: potential role in cancer prevention. Nutr Cancer. 2005;51(2):117-31.

Saarinen NM, Wärri A, Airio M, et al. Role of dietary lignans in the reduction of breast cancer risk. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2007 Jul;51(7):857-66.

Coulman KD, Liu Z, Hum WQ, et al. Whole sesame seed is as rich a source of mammalian lignan precursors as whole flaxseed. Nutr Cancer. 2005;52(2):156-65.

21. Shahidi F, Liyana-Pathirana CM, Wall DS. Antioxidant activity of white and black sesame seeds and their hull fractions. Food Chemistry 2006;99(3): 478-483.

 

Green and orange vegetable consumption - an indicator of longevity

No matter how many different dietary theories there are out there, pretty much everyone agrees that vegetables are “good for you”. But how good they truly are has been debated – there are plenty of observational studies linking vegetable consumption to favorable health outcomes, but other studies have made headlines by casting doubt on how powerful plant foods are for preventing disease. The data from these observational studies is often flawed simply because the majority of people in the Western world don’t eat enough vegetables to have a measurable impact on their risk of chronic disease – only about 25% of Americans eat the recommended three one-cup servings of vegetables each day.[1] Also, total vegetable consumption isn’t necessarily an accurate indicator of the healthfulness of one’s diet, since some vegetables are far more nutrient-dense than others. Of course, long-term controlled trials of consumption of a high-nutrient vegetable-based (nutritarian) diet have not yet been published (with the Nutritional Research Project, I aim to fill this gap in the medical literature). Some long-term observational studies, however, do provide clear, high-quality data demonstrating that vegetable consumption is an important factor in chronic disease prevention – a recent study on serum α-carotene levels and risk of death provides such data.

Carrots - Flickr: ccharmon

Alpha-carotene is one of over six-hundred different carotenoids, a family of antioxidants that also includes β-carotene, lycopene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and astaxanthin. Carotenoids help to defend the body’s tissues against oxidative damage, which is a natural byproduct of our oxygen-dependent metabolism. [2] Oxidative damage to DNA, proteins, and lipids is a known contributor to chronic disease and an accepted mechanism of aging. The body’s defenses against oxidative damage consist of naturally produced as well as diet-derived antioxidant molecules.

Many prospective studies in the past few years have supported the epidemiologic association between plasma carotenoids and reduced risk of disease and/or death. [3-6] However, these studies didn’t differentiate between carotenoids from food and those from supplements. Carotenoid supplements have failed to duplicate this effect in clinical trials. In fact, supplemental carotenoids are likely to be harmful. A recent meta-analysis of several trials found a 7% increase in mortality risk in subjects taking β-carotene supplements. [7, 8] Also, high serum β-carotene has been associated with decreased lung cancer risk, but β-carotene supplements may increase the risk of lung cancer, especially in smokers.[9] Attempting to duplicate the beneficial effects of carotenoid-rich foods with isolated nutrients is foolish - it completely neglects the contribution of additional and/or synergistic effects of other nutrients contained in those foods.

Beta-carotene is the most widely studied carotenoid, but α-carotene more accurately reflects vegetable intake because α-carotene is not present in most multivitamins and supplements. It is also an excellent marker of high-nutrient vegetable intake, since dark green and orange colored vegetables are the richest sources of alpha carotene. Green vegetables are the highest in overall nutrient density, and of course they are the foods richest in alpha carotene.

This study measured baseline serum α-carotene and tracked deaths in the 15,318 participants over a fourteen-year follow-up period. After controlling for potential confounding factors, the researchers found a significant trend – increasing serum α-carotene associated with decreased risk of death from all causes. Those with the highest serum α-carotene had a 39% decrease in risk of death compared to those with the lowest serum α-carotene. Similar relationships were found between serum α-carotene and risk of death from cardiovascular disease, all causes other than CVD, and cancer.

Serum α-carotene % Decrease in risk of death from all causes
0-1 µg/dl (Reference group)
2-3 µg/dl 23%
4-5 µg/dl (average 4.79 µg/dl) 27%
6-8 µg/dl 34%
≥9 µg/dl  39%

Alpha-carotene itself does provide significant antioxidant benefit –but more importantly α-carotene is a marker of the thousands of additional compounds, working synergistically to keep the body healthy present in green and orange vegetables. [10]

These results suggest that not only quantity of vegetable consumption, but the type of vegetables consumed has a major impact on health. This is the main principle behind the nutritarian diet – eating according to nutrient density. This large, long term study gives much support to the concept of nutritarianism, as many foods high in α-carotene tend to be high in micronutrients overall – the foods that make up the base of the nutritarian food pyramid. And of course keep in mind, even in the highest alpha carotene group in this study, the levels of vegetable consumption as a percent of total calories are likely not nearly as high as in someone following a nutritarian diet. Also, the serum level of alpha carotene in someone following a typical Western diet likely reflects mostly carrot consumption compared to the wide variety of green and yellow vegetables that would be consumed as part of a nutritarian diet, from which further benefits would be expected to accrue from the variety of phytochemicals contained within those vegetables.

Examples of foods with a high α-carotene to calorie ratio[11]:Cabbage - Flickr - La Grande Farmers' Market

  • Bok choy
  • Cabbage
  • Red peppers
  • Carrots
  • Swiss chard
  • Green peppers
  • Asparagus
  • Collards
  • Broccoli
  • Winter squash
  • Peas

 

 

 

 

 

Now imagine if such a study was done on people eating the dietary quality I recommend, which would result in levels even much higher than those in the study, and imagine if a diet of this quality was done for more than 10 years and with other synergistic foods, such as mushrooms, onions, berries and seeds. Just imagine...

 

References:

1. State-Specific Trends in Fruit and Vegetable Consumption Among Adults --- United States, 2000--2009. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report September 10, 2010 November 24, 2010]; Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5935a1.htm.
2. Krinsky, N.I. and E.J. Johnson, Carotenoid actions and their relation to health and disease. Mol Aspects Med, 2005. 26(6): p. 459-516.
3. Lauretani, F., et al., Low total plasma carotenoids are independent predictors of mortality among older persons: the InCHIANTI study. Eur J Nutr, 2008. 47(6): p. 335-40.
4. Akbaraly, T.N., A. Favier, and C. Berr, Total plasma carotenoids and mortality in the elderly: results of the Epidemiology of Vascular Ageing (EVA) study. Br J Nutr, 2009. 101(1): p. 86-92.
5. Ito, Y., et al., A population-based follow-up study on mortality from cancer or cardiovascular disease and serum carotenoids, retinol and tocopherols in Japanese inhabitants. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev, 2006. 7(4): p. 533-46.
6. Ray, A.L., et al., Low serum selenium and total carotenoids predict mortality among older women living in the community: the women's health and aging studies. J Nutr, 2006. 136(1): p. 172-6.
7. Bjelakovic, G., et al., Antioxidant supplements for prevention of mortality in healthy participants and patients with various diseases. Cochrane Database Syst Rev, 2008(2): p. CD007176.
8. Bjelakovic, G., et al., Systematic review: primary and secondary prevention of gastrointestinal cancers with antioxidant supplements. Aliment Pharmacol Ther, 2008. 28(6): p. 689-703.
9. Druesne-Pecollo, N., et al., Beta-carotene supplementation and cancer risk: a systematic review and metaanalysis of randomized controlled trials. Int J Cancer, 2010. 127(1): p. 172-84.
10. Li, C., et al., Serum {alpha}-Carotene Concentrations and Risk of Death Among US Adults: The Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey Follow-up Study. Arch Intern Med, 2010.
11. NutritionData.com: Nutrient Search Tool. 2009]; Available from: http://www.nutritiondata.com/tools/nutrient-search.

 

Greens Should Be the Powerhouse of Your Diet!

All foods get their calories from fat, carbohydrate, or protein. Green vegetables, unlike high-starch vegetables like carrots and potatoes, get the majority of their calories from protein. When more of your protein needs are met from green vegetables, you get the benefit of ingesting a huge amount of critical, life-extending micronutrients.

The biggest animals all eat predominantly green vegetation, gaining their size from the protein found there. Obviously, greens pack a powerful, nutrient-dense punch. Some high-green-eating animals—primates—have a very similar biology and physiology to humans. Based on genetic information, chimpanzee and human DNA only differs by 1.6 percent. The desire of primates for variety in their diet supports nutrient diversity that enables them to live a long life, free of chronic diseases. But, without an adequate amount of plant-derived nutrients, immune system dysfunction develops. The results of a compromised immune system are frequent infections, allergies, autoimmune disease, and often cancer. The micronutrients that fuel the primate immune system are found in nature’s cupboard—the garden and forest.

Now that you have delved this far into the field of nutritional medicine, you might as well invest a few more health dollars in your body’s nutrient bank account by focusing on your consumption of greens every day. Low in calories and high in life-extending nutrients, green foods are your secret weapon to achieve incredible health. Scientific research has shown a strong positive association between the consumption of green vegetables and a reduction of all the leading causes of death in humans.1 Cruciferous vegetables—in particular broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, bok choy, collards, watercress, and arugula, to name a few—are loaded with disease-protecting micronutrients and powerful compounds that promote detoxification.

To bring your body to a phenomenal level of health, my aim is to deliver these foods to your plate in a variety of ways that make them delicious and increase your absorption of their beneficial nutrients. Greens can be served raw in salads, steamed and chopped as part of dinner, and cooked in soups.

When we steam or boil vegetables some of the phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals get lost in the water, but when we simmer vegetables in soup, all the nutrients are retained in the liquid. Additionally, the liquid base of the soup prevents the formation of toxic compounds that are created as food is browned under dry heat. Many beneficial chemical compounds are more readily absorbed when the food has been softened with heat.2 You should incorporate larger quantities of greens in an assortment of delicious ways as you move up the stages of dietary excellence.

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

1. Steinmetz KA, Potter JD. Vegetables, fruit, and cancer prevention: a review. J Am Diet Assoc. 1996;96(10):1027-1039. Genkinger JM, Platz EA, Hoffman SC, et al. Fruit, vegetable, and antioxidant intake and all-cause, cancer, and cardiovascular disease mortality in a community dwelling population in Washington County, Maryland. Am J Epidemiol. 2004;160(12):1223-1233.

2. Bugianesi R, Salucci M, Leonardi C, et al. Effect of domestic cooking on human bioavailability of naringenin, chlorogenic acid, lycopene and betacarotene in cherry tomatoes. Eur J Nutr. 2004; 43(6):360-366.

Image credit: Laurel Fan

Cold Weather Gardening - Grow Spinach, Kale, Mustard Greens...

 

It’s August, so fall is right around the corner and most of us think that’s the end of gardening and enjoying fresh homegrown vegetables—wrong! In this video, one organic farmer insists fall is the perfect time to grow Dr. Fuhrman’s favorite, leafy green vegetables, like kale, arugula, mustard greens and lettuce. Apparently, many of these veggies do better in the. Dr. Fuhrman says green—or cruciferous—vegetables are king, loaded with important phytochemicals and nutrients.

Dr. Fuhrman calls green vegetables your best defense against cancer, helping to prevent damage to DNA caused by inferior diet. Recent reports have linked cruciferous vegetables to lower risk of pancreatic and ovarian cancer. Dr. Fuhrman also points out leafy greens are full of fiber, so eating them fills your stomach and leaves you feeling full, without overeating, i.e. you can eat more and still lose weight.

Obesity in Early Adulthood Linked to Pancreatic Cancer

Yeah, don’t get fat. New findings in the Journal of the American Medical Association show having a high body mass index in early adulthood may raise the risk of pancreatic cancer. The study involved 841 pancreatic cancer patients and 752 cancer-free people, with participants asked to recall their height and weight at ages 14 to 19 and in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s. Data found individuals who were overweight at 14 to 19 and in their 30s had a 60% higher risk of pancreatic cancer, but risk seemed to level off after age 40; ScienceDaily explains.

You can keep that risk down with diet. A previous report found eating green veggies like broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts helps fight pancreatic cancer. While charred or barbequed meat raises the risk of pancreatic cancer, due to cancer-causing heterocyclic amines.

In related news, obesity heightens women’s risk of pancreatic cancer. In some cases, as high as 70%, which worries researchers because obesity is largely a preventable problem.

Image credit: kreg.steppe

Vegetable Diets Better for Diabetes

Appearing in the journal Nutrition Reviews, new findings suggest vegetarian and vegan diets offer significant benefits for diabetes control, more so than non-vegetarian. Clinical trials show individuals with type-2 diabetes on low-fat vegan diets had improved glycemic control, compared to conventional diets. Weight-loss is part of the explanation why, but reduced consumption of saturated fat and increased intake of fiber and plant nutrients offer additional advantages; Unbound Medline reports.

Plant foods, like green veggies, garlic and nuts, are potent diabetes-fighters, helping to keep glucose levels within normal range and eventually allowing people to kick their diabetes for good, unlike taking insulin, which can actually make things worse!

And last month, a report claimed Hispanic teenagers who started eating more fruits and vegetables and less sugar, lowered their risk of type-2 diabetes.

Image credit: Lars Odemark

Heart Disease, Obesity, Diabetes Increase Dementia Risk

New findings in the Archives of Neurology reveal obesity, along with heart disease and diabetes heighten the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease. In a series of studies researchers examined over 10,000 individuals with conditions such as obesity and determined those participants with metabolic syndrome-related ailments had reduced cognitive function later in life, leading to Alzheimer's; HealthDay News reports.

Dr. Fuhrman insists a diet rich in green vegetables helps reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, while diets low in vegetables and high in meat actually increase the likelihood of developing dementia. Exercise has also been shown to protect against dementia.

But we’re still a whacked out country! In 2008, the number of Americans with Alzheimer's reached 5 million. Although later in the year it was discovered internet searches can keep our brains healthy, but I don’t think that includes looking for funneh LOLcats.

Image credit: South Park Studios