Eating to Age Rapidly and Die Prematurely

Adapted from Dr. Fuhrman’s book Cholesterol Protection For Life:

Certain foods lead to superior health and other foods lead to ill health. It is impossible to earn excellent health while consuming disease-causing foods. One cannot escape from the biological laws of cause and effect. It is impossible to eat the American diet without the eventual development of a serious disease. Autopsy studies on adult Americans who die in car accidents show over 95% have atherosclerotic heart disease. The only reason why more than 50% do not die of heart attacks and strokes is that cancer or some other illness gets them first.

Heart disease and strokes kill over half of all Americans.

If you eat the typical American diet, you will likely die of typical American diseases. In the typical American diet 40% of calories come from animal foods such as dairy, meat, eggs, and chicken, and 50% of calories come from processed foods such as pasta, bread, soda, oils, sugar, puffed cereals, pretzels, and other adulterated products. Cancer and heart disease is the consequence.

Americans consume only about 7% of their calories from unrefined plant foods defined as fruits, vegetables, beans/legumes, and whole grains. These unrefined plant foods are rich in fiber and anti-cancer nutrients, yet Americans eat very little of these nourishing foods.

Refined grain products, such as white bread, pasta, bagels, white rice, most breakfast cereals, and other denatured and processed grains are almost as nutrient-deficient as sugar. The nutritional value of these “foods” falls very low on the scale compared to healthful foods.

In a six-year study of 65,000 women, the women with diets high in refined carbohydrates from white bread, white rice, and pasta had two-and-a-half times the incidence of Type II diabetes, compared with those who ate high-fiber foods, such as vegetables, beans/legumes, whole grains, and fresh fruit.

Diabetes is not a lightweight problem; it is the fourth leading cause of death by disease in America, and the number of people developing diabetes is soaring. White flour, other refined grains such as sweetened breakfast cereals, soft drinks, other sweets, and even fruit juices are weight promoting and not only lead to diabetes, but can raise triglycerides and cholesterol levels, increasing heart-attack risk.

Every time you eat processed foods you not only exclude the important known nutrients from your diet, but also hundreds of other undiscovered phytonutrients that are essential for normal, human function. For instance, it is the outer portion of the wheat kernel (the part that is removed when white flour is made) that contains trace minerals, phytoestrogens, lignins, phytic acid, indoles, phenolic compounds and other phytochemicals, as well as all of the vitamin E. It is the diversity of micronutrients, both known and unknown, that are necessary to ward off cancer.

Additionally, when we eat baked goods, cold breakfast cereals, pretzels, and other snack foods, we are getting heart-disease-promoting trans fats and a high dose of acrylamides. Acrylamides are toxic, cancer-promoting compounds produced when foods are baked or fried at high temperatures. Chips, pretzels, cold breakfast cereals, roasted soy nuts, browned foods, crusted foods, and fried foods contain high levels of these toxic compounds that are formed when carbohydrates are exposed to high dry heat. These harmful compounds are not formed when foods are water cooked, when you steam vegetables or make soups for example.

Refined or processed foods also include salad oil. All oils are 120 calories per tablespoon and nutrient-poor. Oils leave behind the fiber and most of the nutrients that were in the original food. When eating these oils we consume more “empty” or nutrient poor calories, reducing the nutrient density of our dietary intake. Refined oils, such as olive oil, are removed from nature’s protective packaging, rich in nutrients and antioxidants. They may be a big improvement over butter and margarine (containing saturated and trans fats) but they still promote weight gain and therefore are not heart disease favorable.
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Dana - July 12, 2006 1:17 PM

I recently came across a study of the Fulani people of northern Nigeria who have a low risk of cardiovascular disease despite a diet high in saturated fat. I realize that HDL cholesterol and triacylglycerol concentrations are not necessarily effective predictors of heart disease, nevertheless, the study does raise a few questions regarding your model for superior nutrition. Are you aware of this study and do you have any hypothesis regarding the findings?
The researchers measured serum lipid, homocysteine,folate and vitamin B-12 concentrations in Fulani men and women and assessed nutrients in their diet.
Here is a write up from the study:

Results of the analyses were compared to acceptable U.S. ranges. The energy content of the diet was found to be low and protein content high. Nearly one-half of energy was provided by fat and half of that saturated fat. The diet provided substantial amounts of vitamin B-12, barely adequate amounts of vitamin C and only one-third the recommended allowance of folate. HDL cholesterol and triacylglycerol concentrations in Fulani adults were within acceptable ranges and the LDL cholesterol below the range, indicating a favorable cardiovascular risk profile for serum lipids.


The mean serum homocysteine level of Fulani men was above the normal range for Americans. High serum homocysteine is associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease, but is not yet an established risk factor. Because the male Fulani do not have the more recognized risk factors such as high serum cholesterol, smoking, overweight, sedentary lifestyle, future research may shed light on the importance of high serum homocysteine in isolation of other risk factors.


The study concluded that despite a diet high in saturated fat, Fulani adults have a low risk of cardiovascular disease, at least in terms of established risk factors, a finding likely due to high activity level and low total energy intake.

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