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.

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Fruits and Vegetables May Be More Powerful Than We Think!

I’ve heard Dr. Fuhrman say that we still don’t know all the healthful properties of plant foods, and a new study seems to confirm that, claiming scientists underestimate the amount of nutrients in fruits and vegetables:

While the polyphenol content of fruits usually refers to extractable polyphenols, new research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry reports that the non-extractable polyphenol content is up to five times higher than extractable compounds.

According to studies with apple, peach and nectarine, previous measures to quantify polyphenols may have been limited by the extraction technique.

"These [non-extractable] polyphenols need to be treated with acid to extract them from the cell walls of fruit in the lab," said lead author Sara Arranz from the Spanish Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) in Madrid. "If non-extractable polyphenols are not considered, the levels of beneficial polyphenols such as proanthocyanidins, ellagic acid and catechin are substantially underestimated."

I asked Dr. Fuhrman about this and his quick answer was, “Repeat after me, fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and beans! When you eat whole foods, you get much more than science has been able to measure so far.” And here Dr. Fuhrman explains why foods like green vegetables are so healthy:

While fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of nutrients, the consumption of vegetables is more helpful in reducing cancer because they contain much higher amounts of cancer-protective compounds--especially green vegetables. Among these green vegetables, the cruciferous family has demonstrated the most dramatic protection against cancer. Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, bok choy, collards, arugala, watercress, and cabbage) contain a symphony of phytonutrients with potent anti-cancer effects.

Isothiocyanates (ITCs), which are perhaps the best studied, have been shown to provide protection against environmental carcinogen exposure by inducing detoxification pathways, thereby neutralizing potential carcinogens. These vegetables also contain indole-3-carbinol (I3C). Indole-3-carbinol has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer by decreasing estrogen activity.

In related news, researchers determined nutrients and antioxidants in fruits and vegetables, like apples, broccoli and berries, help improve oxygen intake and exercise endurance.

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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.

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Behold, The Vast Power of Plant Nutrients!

All the different types of nutrients are vital to achieving and maintaining optimal health and nutritional excellence; however, phytochemicals hold a special, elite place in the nutritional landscape. When consistently consumed in adequate quantity and variety, phytochemicals become super-nutrients in your body. They work together to detoxify cancer-causing compounds, deactivate free radicals, protect against radiation damage, and enable DNA repair mechanisms.1 When altered or broken strands of DNA are repaired, it can prevent cancer from developing later in life.

Consuming phytochemicals is not optional. They are essential in human immune-system defenses. Without a wide variety and sufficient amount of phytochemicals from unprocessed plant foods, scientists note that cells age more rapidly and do not retain their innate ability to remove and detoxify waste products and toxic compounds. Low levels of phytochemicals in our modern diet are largely responsible for the common diseases seen with aging, especially cancer and heart disease. These are diseases caused by nutritional ignorance and, in many cases, can be prevented. Approximately 85 percent of our population acquires and eventually dies from heart disease, strokes, and cancer. This is extremely high compared to other populations around the world and at earlier points in human history.

Let’s take heart disease as an example. Heart attacks are extremely rare occurrences in populations that eat a diet rich in protective phytochemicals, such as the Okinawans of Japan, but are omnipresent in populations, such as ours, that eat a diet low in protective nutrients.2 Compelling data from numerous population and interventional studies shows that a natural, plant based diet rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals will prevent, arrest, and even reverse heart disease.3 With what we know about heart disease causation, no one needs to die of heart disease today.

Only via nutritional excellence can you address all the invisible, but potentially dangerous, plaque throughout your coronary arteries. Unlike surgery and angioplasty, the dietary approach addressed in this book does not merely treat a small segment of your heart, but rejuvenates all your blood vessels and protects your entire body against heart attacks, strokes, venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolisms, peripheral vascular disease, and vascular dementia. Eating this way is your most valuable insurance policy to secure a longer life, free of medical problems. Thousands of people following my eating-style have reversed their high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and heart disease and have been able to discontinue their medications. Nutritional excellence simply made them well when drugs did not. You can see once again, the most effective prescription is excellent nutrition.

To receive the benefits of nutritional excellence, however, you must actually eat well. Many people believe they can meet all of their nutrient needs by taking supplements; however, supplements can’t match or duplicate all the protective, strengthening elements of real fruits and vegetables. There are too many unknown and undiscovered factors in these natural foods. There are more than 10,000 identified phytochemicals, with more being discovered all the time. Only by eating a diet rich in whole foods can we assure ourselves a full symphony of these disease-protecting, anti-aging nutrients. Supplements can be useful in delivering micronutrients found in foods that would be very difficult to incorporate into our diet, such as fatty fish. This is why the word “supplement” is a good one: the pill is supplemental to a healthy diet and cannot take the place of one.

Our bodies were designed to make use of thousands of plant compounds. When these necessary compounds are missing, we might survive because our bodies are adaptable; however, we lose our powerful potential for wellness. Chronic diseases often develop, and we are robbed of living to our fullest potential in good physical, emotional, and mental health. Ultimately, we are what we eat. We get the materials to build our cells from our diet because food provides the raw materials that our bodies use to create tissue and to function at a high level. Consumption of healthy foods leads to disease resistance; consumption of unhealthy foods makes us disease-prone.

Eating right enables you to feel your best everyday. You may still get sick from a virus, but your body will be in a far better position to defend itself and make a quick and complete recovery. Optimal nutrition enables us to work better, play better, and maintain our youthful vigor as we age gracefully.

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

1. Liu RH. Potential synergy of phytochemicals in cancer prevention: mechanism of action. J Nutr. 2004;134(12 Suppl):3479S-3485S. Weiss JF, Landauer MR. Protection against ionizing radiation by antioxidant nutrients and phytochemicals. Toxicology 2003;189(1-2):1-20. Carratù B, Sanzini E. Biologically-active phytochemicals in vegetable food. Ann Ist Super Sanita. 2005; 41(1):7-16.

2. Hu FB. Plant-based foods and prevention of cardiovascular disease: an overview. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Sep;78(3 Suppl):544S-551S. Campbell TC, Parpia B, Chen J. Diet, lifestyle, and the etiology of coronary artery disease: the Cornell China study. Am J Cardiol 1998 Nov 26;82(10B):18T-21T. Fujimoto N, Matsubayashi K, Miyahara T, et al. The risk factors for ischemic heart disease in Tibetan highlanders. Jpn Heart J. 1989 Jan;30(1):27-34. Tatsukawa M, Sawayama Y, Maeda N, et al. Carotid atherosclerosis and cardiovascular risk factors: a comparison of residents of a rural area of Okinawa with residents of a typical suburban area of Fukuoka, Japan. Atherosclerosis 2004;172(2):337-343.

3. Hu FB, Willett WC. Optimal diets for prevention of coronary heart disease. JAMA 2002 Nov 27;288(20):2569-2578. Esselstyn CB. Resolving the Coronary Artery Disease Epidemic Through Plant-Based Nutrition. 2001 Autumn;4(4):171-177.

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People Getting Hip to Antioxidants

Good news! The word “antioxidant” seems to resonate with consumers. New research in the journal Food Quality and Preference shows people associate words such as “fiber” and “antioxidants” with healthiness and willingness to try a product. Women and old people reacted the most positively to antioxidant-rich foods and both young and older people were interested in a products disease-preventing claims, especially in the short-term; NutraIngredients reports.

Fruits and vegetables are prime sources of antioxidants. Just last month, nutrients in blueberries were found to shrink cancer tumors in lab rats and Dr. Fuhrman links plant nutrients with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

In related news, taking concentrated beta carotene, found in most multivitamins, may increase your risk of lung cancer. High-dose beta carotene supplements interfere with the absorption of cancer-fighting antioxidants. Eek!

Image credit: Angie Torres

Blueberries Protect Young Kids Against Cancer

I eat a lot of blueberries. I pile them into everything. Even my breakfast pudding! Dr. Fuhrman loves blueberries too. He considers blueberries an excellent food for superior health and longevity. They’re packed with healthful nutrients and phytochemicals, like tannins, anthocyanidins, flavonoids, and polyphenols and proanthcyanidins, which are linked to prolonged mental health and cancer prevention.

Now, more good news for blueberries! New findings in the journal Antioxidants & Redox Signaling suggest consuming blueberries may reduce the size of cancer tumors found in infants and young children, as well as improve cancer survival. After feeding mice a blueberry extract, researchers observed doubled lifespan and tumors 60% smaller than control mice; NutraIngredients investigates.

In 2007, a study reported blueberries, specifically a compound called pterostilbene, also found in other fruits, like grapes and strawberries, may help prevent pre-cancerous colon lesions. Oh, and try pomegranates too. Pomegranates actually have more antioxidants than blueberries. Sweet!

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