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.

Would We be Healthier Without Taste Buds...

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Bloggy McBloggenstein of Stop Being So Fat! and does NOT necessarily represent the opinions of DiseaseProof or Dr. Fuhrman.

The obese are now the majority in America. Sure, there are no shortage of reasons behind this, but let’s boil it down into its simplest terms. In an increasingly busy, modern, convenience filled, processed food-filled environment, the majority of people are seeking out what is easy, cheap, and above all PLEASURABLE over what is healthy.

Evolutionarily speaking, it’s doubtful one could argue that we developed taste buds simply for pleasure. The real reason is because our ancient ancestors needed a mechanism that told them whether or not the substance they were putting in their mouth was good or bad for them. Little absorption happens in the mouth, so when the tongue sends a message to the brain that something tastes “bad” we spit it out before swallowing it. Harmful or poisonous foods often have a bitter or sour taste, and nutrient rich foods, particularly nutrient-rich often have a sweet or savory taste.

Today, we don’t need our taste buds to save our lives. There’s no danger of scavenging through a wild grocery store and accidentally eating something poisonous. We’re too educated to let that happen. No one is going to pick up a bottle of bleach and give it a swig to find out if it’s food or not.

It’s probably to our detriment that today, when most food products are made in factories, that our taste buds still rule our diet choices. We still seek out the foods that are most fulfilling to our energy needs, even if those needs are met. AND THEN SOME! Food companies win us over by putting MORE of what tastes good into our food, while maintaining a relative level of vitamins in production is often an afterthought.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the next step in our evolution made it so that we could taste if something were high in micronutrients relative to energy? Just like we can taste the difference between a regular and a fat free version of something, we would be able to tell if a food was high in vitamins and minerals, and actually prefer it over a food that has been stripped of its vitamins.
We know what is healthy.

Really, as much as people seem confused over all of the conflicting information out there regarding healthy eating, I doubt you could find me a person that would point to the super-sized value meal instead of the basket of fruits and veggies when asked which is healthier. When we’re honest, the only real reason we act confused about what is bad for us is when we want to continue to eat what tastes good, despite available information.

Obviously we can’t turn off our taste buds, and if we could, who would want to? Food is one of the major things that drives and shapes various cultures because the preparation and eating of food is often very social and can be highly pleasurable. Life would seem pretty grim if we suddenly couldn’t taste. Taste buds are a luxury now. Let’s not let that luxury be our downfall.

Image credit: TimmyGUNZ

Antioxidants Linked with Fewer Hip Fractures

New findings in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research reveal antioxidants, such as lycopene, carotenoids and lutein, reduce the likelihood of hip fractures. The 17-year long study, involving 946 individuals, 576 Caucasian women and 370 Caucasian men with an average age of 75, found participants with the highest average intakes of all carotenoids had significantly lower risk of hip fractures, lycopene linked to the lowest risk of hip fracture and non-vertebral fracture; NutraIngredients reports.

In the past, other antioxidants found in plants, such as flavonoids, have been associated with heart health and blueberries, which are packed with nutrients like tannins, anthocyanidins and polyphenols help to prolong mental health and prevent cancer.

But be careful with the vitamins you get outside of food. Recently, a 10-year analysis of 77,000 people showed high-dose beta carotene supplements increase risk of lung cancer. Eek!

Image credit: Manjith Kainickara

Folic Acid Pills Up Prostate Cancer Risk

Most people think vitamins are healthy. No questions asked. Not always the case. According to new research in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute daily folic acid supplementation may increase men’s risk of prostate cancer. The study showed men taking 1 mg of folic acid everyday had more than twice the risk of developing prostate cancer than participants taking a placebo. Experts examined data on 643 men, with an average age of 57.4. After ten years the cancer risk among supplement-takers was 9.7%, but only 3.3% for men taking the placebo; Med News Today reports.

Isolated beta-carotene isn’t the only thing that can increase men’s risk of prostate cancer. Eating too much meat messes with a hormones resulting in more prostate cancer, while foods like broccoli provide protect against prostate cancer. And in the past, a study of 300,000 men revealed men taking more than seven vitamins a week had double the risk of getting fatal prostate cancer, compared to men who never took pills.

Now, I’m not into hocking products, but this is relevant. Dr. Fuhrman has known about link between folic acid and prostate cancer for a long time, that’s why his daily vitamin supplement Gentle Care has no folic acid and no isolated beta-carotene. Isolated beta-carotene was recently found to raise lung cancer risk. Eek!

Image credit: Ranoush.

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

Beta Carotene Supplements May Increase Lung Cancer Risk

Published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, a new 10-year analysis of more than 77,000 adults, men and women ages 50 to 76, revealed long term use of high-dose beta carotene supplements may heighten the risk of lung cancer, especially in smokers. Scientists used questionnaires to assess participants’ intake of dietary supplements and then tracked them for the next four years. These findings mirror a 2007 study showing vitamin C and E and folate supplements do not decrease the risk of lung cancer; ScienceDaily explains.

According to Dr. Fuhrman high-dose beta carotene supplements interfere with the absorption of antioxidants, like carotenoids and other antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables. This can increase cancer-risk. That’s why Dr. Fuhrman’s formulates his vitamins without beta carotene.

But getting beta carotene from veggies is just fine! Foods like carrots, mangos and oranges, as well as leafy greens like cabbage, Bok Choy and broccoli are loaded with beta carotene and other health-protecting antioxidants and phytochemicals.

Vitamins aren’t magic pills! Previous reports show vitamins alone can’t prevent heart disease or prostate cancer, i.e. a bacon cheese burger with a side of Centrum Silver isn’t healthy.

Image credit: Teresa Stanton

Multivitamins Don't Slow Heart Disease and Cancer

Reported in Archives of Internal Medicine, scientists have determined multivitamins have little or no influence on the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease or overall death-risk in postmenopausal women. The study involved 161, 808 participants and documented chronic conditions, such as breast, colon and stomach cancer and stroke, myocardial infarction and total mortality. Researchers point out populations eating a lot of fruits and vegetables have lower risk of chronic disease; via CNN.

In November, findings in the Journal of the American Medical Association revealed vitamins C and E do nothing to prevent heart disease in men and then in December, another study showed just taking vitamin C and E and selenium supplements don’t ward off prostate cancer.

Now, for potent sources of vitamins and minerals, with known anti-cancer and heart disease-preventing effects, give green veggies, like broccoli, kale and Swiss chard, a try!

Image credit: Jeremy Brooks

Kellogg's Scolded for Misleading Ads

A U.K. standards agency has upheld complaints against Kellogg’s for advertisements implying their cookies are healthy, when they’re actually high in sugar and saturated fat. And while Kellogg’s didn’t do anything factually wrong, the agency contends Kellogg’s places emphasis on the wrong things, i.e. the scant vitamins and minerals in the cookies. When reached for comment, a company representative said the cookies are just a sweet treat with a little bit extra; from FoodNavigator.

Yeah, you got to be pretty stupid to think cookies are healthy. Now, in October a study revealed Kellogg's Honey Smacks breakfast cereal contains as much sugar as a Dunkin’ Donuts glazed doughnut. Kellogg’s cereals are also loaded with salt. Eek!

It’s been tough for Kellogg’s lately. Their peanut butter’s got salmonella and celebrity spokesman Michael Phelps is now a pot head.

Image credit: Frankie Roberto

How Not to Get Your Minerals...

It might look like food. But those are actually all sorts of rocks and gems. And it’s a horrible way to get your vitamins and minerals. Ouch!

Now, while I appreciate the artistic vision, it’s not nearly as awesome as last week’s fruit and veggie masterpieces.

Via Serious Eats.

The Baobab Fruit is Coming!

That’s baobab fruit, from the giant baobab tree, and apparently it’s amazing! In fact, its dried pulp, which is loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and twice as much calcium as milk, is poised to become 2009’s newest super fruit; FoodNavigator explains.

Like the mysterious black garlic, I’ve never tried it. Have you?