Fruits and Vegetables Reduce Stroke Risk

Reuters London reports that new studies conclude a quantitative relationship between consumption of fruits and vegetables and reducing risk of stroke. Professor Graham MacGregor of St George's medical school at the University of London commented on the studies:

For the first time we have shown a quantitative relationship between fruit and vegetable consumption and stroke.

It has been known that fruit and vegetables seem to reduce stroke but it wasn't known how much they did it by.

It is a very important finding because it really shows that the quantity of fruit and vegetables you should be eating is more than five a day.

In this excerpt from his book Eat to Live Dr. Fuhrman talks about healthfully getting stroke preventing monounsaturated fats and essential fats from plants:

There is no longer any question about the importance of fruits and vegetables in our diet. The greater quantity and assortment of fruits and vegetables consumed, the lower the incidence of heart attacks, strokes, and cancer.1

The best fats are monounsaturated fats and essential fats (omega-3 and omega-6) present in whole, natural plant foods, including avocados, olives, and raw nuts and seeds. Studies continue to show that consumption of raw nuts protect against both heart attack and stroke, without the risks of increasing heart disease and cancer, as is the case with the high consumption of animal-origin fats.2 When the fats you consume are from whole food, rather than oil, you gain nature's protective package: a balance of vitamins, minerals, fibers, and phytonutrients.

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Munch on Mushrooms

From Dr. Fuhrman's book Eat to Live:

Mushrooms make a great chewy replacement to meat. Exploring their varieties is a great way to add interesting flavors and texture to dishes. Store them in papers bags, not plastic, as too much moisture speeds spoilage. Try adding them to beans, seasoned with herbs and lemon juice. Even though they are a fungus, and not a real vegetable, mushrooms contain a variety of powerful phytochemicals and have been linked to decreased risk of chronic diseases, especially cancer.

Here's a spicy way to prepare mushrooms courtesy of OrganicAuthority.com:

Mushroom Salsa with Cilantro
1 large (4- to 5-inch diameter) portabella mushroom
2 ripe tomatoes
4 sprigs parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 small onion, minced
1 jalape�o pepper, cored, seeded and minced

Remove the stem from the mushroom, then clean and chop the cap. Dice the tomatoes and combine in a medium-sized bowl with the mushroom. Stir in the parsley, cilantro, lime and lemon juices, onion and jalape�o pepper. Let stand at room temperature for at least an hour so that the flavors will blend. Stir well. Makes about 2 cups.

Asparagus: Real Health Food

Asparagus is one of the most healthful foods on the planet. It leads nearly all fruits and vegetables in the wide array of nutrients it supplies. Ten ounces (one box of frozen spears) have only 68 calories and 9 grams of protein, yet it is like a vitamin pill, giving you a variety of minerals such as selenium, zinc, calcium, copper, and manganese. Plus, it is very rich in folate.

Asparagus has an exceptionally high nutrient-per-calorie ratio and is the perfect weight-loss food. Anti--cancer compounds that have been shown to prevent tumors and cancers in animals are plentiful in asparagus. Asparagus also contains isothiocyanates, indoles, and sulforaphane, powerful compounds that promote cellular rejuvenation with anti-cancer properties. It is rich in glutathione and rutin, healing compounds for the liver and blood vessels.

The asparagus plant is a hardy perennial vegetable native to Europe and Asia, where it has been cultivated for thousands of years. It was a valued vegetable to the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. In ancient Greece, the wealthy paid chariot drivers to bring frozen asparagus (stored from the bumper summer crop) from the snow-covered Alps back to Greece when fresh asparagus was not available. Early settlers brought asparagus to North America, where it has been grown since colonial times.

In the past, asparagus was only available in season. Today, modern growing, shipping, and refrigeration methods have made asparagus available year-round. The size of the asparagus does not matter. It becomes soft, cooking easily with just 10 minutes or less in the steamer, and retains most of its vital nutrients when cooked.

Asparagus has a short shelf life once it is picked, which is great because it is easy to tell if it is not fresh and losing its nutrient-rich status. If the rubber band indents the spears, it is not fresh, and if the tips start to become odorous or look wet or slimy, you know it has become bad.

If you plant an asparagus crown in your garden and allow it to develop a strong root system for three years, it will then produce plants every summer for 15 years or more without replanting.

Try these asparagus inspired recipes:

Asparagus-Potato-Leek Ragout
2 large leeks, white and pale green
1 lb. small red potatoes
2 cups water, seasoned with VegiZest or another dehydrated vegetable seasoning
1 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut diagonally
1/2 lb. fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded
1/2 lemon
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
3 Tbsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped

Cut leeks lengthwise and wash thoroughly. Then cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices. Quarter potatoes and steam in a steamer until just tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer potatoes to a bowl. In skillet, water-saut� leeks in seasoned water for 3-4 minutes, stirring until tender. (Add liquid if needed.) Transfer leeks to bowl with potatoes. In skillet, heat more VegiZest water and water-saut� asparagus for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add mushrooms and water-saut� mixture, and continue cooking for about 3 minutes or until mushrooms soften. Combine all ingredients. Before serving, squeeze a little lemon juice over vegetables, stir in mint, parsley, and pepper to taste, and gently toss. Serves 4.

Creamy Asparagus Soup
3 lbs. asparagus
4 tsp. VegiZest soup mix
4-1/2 cups water
2 medium onions, chopped fine
6 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1/2 cup raw cashews
White pepper, to taste
No-Sodium Spike

Cut off the tough base of the asparagus and discard. Cut off two inches of the asparagus tips and stew on a low heat in one cup of water for about 3 minutes and save with liquid. In a 4-quart heavy saucepan, add onions, remaining asparagus stalks, garlic, onion, seasonings, water, and the liquid from the asparagus tips. Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes, or until asparagus pieces are tender. Pur�e soup in blender. In final batch, puree cashews as well. Return to 4-quart saucepan, thin with water if desired. Add asparagus tips and serve. Serves 7.

Soups On!

The winter chill can be bitter, here are some soothing soups to help sweeten your day:

Creamy Peanut Butter Soup
1 bunch kale (de-stemmed and torn into bite-sized pieces)
1 medium butternut squash (can use frozen)
1 cup broccoli florets
1/2 cup lentils
1 medium beet, shredded
6 cups carrot juice
1 small zucchini (cut into chunks)
1/2 cup raw cashews
12 whole pitted dates
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups soymilk
1 tsp. natural peanut butter
4 oz. Spinach

Simmer first seven ingredients, adding water if needed, for 45 minutes or until vegetables are very tender. Blend all ingredients until smooth and creamy. Adjust sweetness by adding more dates if needed. Add enough soymilk to thin to appropriate consistency.

Black Forest Cream of Mushroom Soup
2 cups mushrooms, 1/4 slices
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 qt. water
4 Tbsp. Dr. Fuhrman's VegiZest, or other no- or low-sodium soup base
2 whole carrots, coarsely chopped
2 tsp. dried herbs, herb de Provence
3 whole leeks, coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 cup raw cashews
10 oz. spinach leaves
5 oz. bag of organic baby spinach
1/4 cup fresh chopped herbs, parsley, rosemary, & thyme

Water saut� garlic, mushrooms, and herbs until tender and fragrant. Set aside. Place carrots and leeks in water and soup base. Simmer until vegetables are tender. Puree vegetable soup in blender with cashews, lemon juice, and herbs. In soup pot, combine pureed vegetable soup, mushrooms, and spinach. Spinach will wilt in hot soup. Serve garnished with fresh chopped herbs.

Greek Lentil Soup
2 cups dried lentils
28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
2 Tbsp. fig vinegar
2 cups currants
2 stalks leeks, finely chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1/8 tsp. cumin
3 Tbsp. minced parsley
1 tsp. ground coriander
8 cups water

Combine all ingredients in large soup pot and cook on a low flame about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally until lentils are soft.

Creamy Asparagus Soup
3 lbs. asparagus
4 tsp. VegiZest soup mix
4-1/2 cups water
2 medium onions, chopped fine
6 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1/2 cup raw cashews
White pepper, to taste
No-Sodium Spike

Cut off the tough base of the asparagus and discard. Cut off two inches of the asparagus tips and stew on a low heat in one cup of water for about 3 minutes and save with liquid. In a 4-quart heavy saucepan, add onions, remaining asparagus stalks, garlic, onion, seasonings, water, and the liquid from the asparagus tips. Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes, or until asparagus pieces are tender. Pur�e soup in blender. In final batch, puree cashews as well. Return to 4-quart saucepan, thin with water if desired. Add asparagus tips and serve.

Don't sabotage your weight-loss goal with oily dressings and sauces.

Vegetables and salads are very low in calories. However, if you cover these healthy, low calorie foods with tablespoons of a high-fat, high-calorie, oil-based dressing, you turn vegetables and salad into weight-promoting foods. (Remember Dr. Fuhrman's equation health = nutrition / calories.)

Here's what Dr. Fuhrman says about this in the upcoming revised version of Cholesterol Protection for Life:

I know you were told that olive oil is health food. It is not. Keep in mind, oil is processed food, it is not a natural whole food. Oils, even if they are monounsaturated, should not be health food because they are low in nutrients and contain 120 calories per tablespoon, promoting weight gain.

Sure, olive oil and almond oil are improvements over animal fats and margarine, but they still are a contributor to our overweight modern world. Overweight Americans consume and average of three tablespoons of oil in their daily diet, adding and extra 360 calories to their food each day. You need to reach a thinner, ideal weight to achieve maximum protection against heart disease and to reverse heart disease. Use oil, even olive oil sparingly or not at all; certainly, do not have more than one teaspoon per day.

As an alternative to oil, you can make great tasting salad dressings from raw nuts and seeds, such as walnuts, pecans, cashews, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pistachios and avocados.

Here are a few recipes to experiment with:

Hot Russian Dressing
1 small (4-ounce) can tomato paste
4 tbsp. raw almond butter
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1/4 cup soy milk
3 tbsp. ketchup
Blend all ingredients together. Works well as a sauce for steamed leafy greans; as a condiment spread for lettuce, tomato, and avocado pita pocket sandwiches; and as a salad dressing (serves 4-6).

Orange Cashew Dressing
2 peeled navel oranges
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup raw cashews
2 tbsp. of blood orange vinegar or pear vinegar
Blend ingredients until silkly smooth. Use liberally on salad or as vegetable dip (serves 4-6).

Pistachio Mustard Salad Dressing
1/3 cup raw shelled pistachio nuts
1 tbsp. dijon mustard
2 tbsp. Vegi-Zest or low salt vegetable seasoning
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk
Blend all ingredients until smooth in a high powered blender (serves 4-6).

U.S. Cities Weigh in on Bad Diets and Obesity

Earlier this month Onlyourhealth.com spotlighted The New York Times coverage of how NYC is facing increased diabetes, but New York isn't the only city concerned with expanding waistlines. Consider these other recent reports from around the nation:

But My Cholesterol is Fine

Written by Dr. Fuhrman's colleague Dr. Steven Acocella, MS, D.C., DACBN, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist, and a Diplomat of the American Clinical Board of Nutrition.

Excess weight, especially in middle age dramatically increases the risk of developing heart disease, stroke and other morbid conditions even in the absence of more established indicators of risk such as smoking, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) concludes that excess weight itself puts people at greater risk for significant health problems. This massive study followed over 17,000 men and women ages 31 to 64 over an average of 32 years. Each participant was assigned to one of 5 groups based upon risk factors independent of weight that included past or present tobacco use, elevated blood pressure and elevated cholesterol. The low-risk group never smoked and had normal cholesterol levels and blood pressure. The moderate-risk group didn't smoke but had either slight elevations in cholesterol or blood pressure. The intermediate-risk group had either high cholesterol, high blood pressure or currently smoked. The elevated-risk group and high-risk group had any 2 or all 3 three of these risk factors, respectively. The results were alarming.

The incidence of cardiovascular disease, stroke, heart attacks and diabetes were observed as well as hospitalizations and deaths related to these conditions. The body mass index (height to weight ratio) was calculated for each participant and compared health status to BMI for each group. The study evidenced that individuals with no cardiovascular risk factors as well as for those with 1 or more risk factors who were overweight in middle age had a significantly higher risk of hospitalization and mortality from heart disease, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes than those who were of normal weight. In fact, the risk of death from heart disease was an ominous 43 percent higher within the low-risk group (no risk factors) for overweight and obese individuals as compared to those of normal weight.

I often hear overweight people proudly stating that their cholesterol numbers and blood pressure readings are normal intimating that in some way their weight is less of a problem. I have literally had patients say that although they know they're overweight it's "OK" because their cholesterol is fine. Not fine. This perception may grant some overweight people a false sense of security when it comes to their health. This fool's paradise is often fostered by the barrage of drug commercials, other media messages and even uninformed health professionals that overemphasize some risk factors while understating the importance of attaining a healthy weight, especially in middle age.

This important study clearly demonstrates that just because those lab results are great, excess weight alone puts you at almost double the risk for an untimely death.

Battling Migraine Headaches with Diet

Dr. Fuhrman has had strong results treating migraine headaches with a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and seeds as described in his books. Recently, some particularly tough cases were discussed in the member center of his website. Read the results for yourself:

Question (Posted on the forums 11/2/05)
Hi Dr. Fuhrman,

I've been following Eat to Live for 10 months now with great results. I was off blood pressure medication within six weeks (after having been on it for 10 years), and I've lost 20 pounds (I now weigh what I did when I was 22). At age 47, I feel more athletic and healthier than I have since I was in my mid twenties.

My final area of health struggle is migraine headaches. I've had them since high school. When I was on BP medication, the beta blockers largely suppressed the migraines. If they didn't, I would take aspirin to knock them out, or if they got really bad, I would use Imitrex. Since coming off the BP medication in February, my migraines have returned. I have followed your advice and have quit all medications. I have "gutted it out" through a lot of migraines in the past 10 months.

I have twice gone on your "headache diet" with limited results (I did a three day, and five day fast before going on the headache diet). My frequency of headaches has not diminished at all (about once a week). The duration time of the headaches seems to be lessening. However, it often seems like a small consolation. After reading your book on "Fasting and Eating for Health", I was hoping my headaches would go away quickly.

I work in corporate sales, and I cannot continue to be sidelined by migraines. Fortunately, I often work from a home office. So, I can apply pressure and ice treatment that I couldn't do in an office, but I have to figure out a way to get rid of these things.

I hope you are right about migraines, but I haven't seen anywhere near the results that I expected after such great results with BP and weight loss. Do you have any suggestions?

Thanks for all your help so far. If your diet gets me through migraines, I'll be your #1 evangelist! Doug (a.k.a. doubled on Dr. Fuhrman's forums)

Answer
I promise you that I can get rid of your migraines now, because you have improved your health so much already and have been following the plan and are off meds. The last piece of the puzzle for you is to increase the detoxification potential by using cruciferous juices and blended salads to increase the intake of raw cruciferous compounds from watercress, brocolli, arugula, parsley, bok choy, and others. Have the green stuff in a base of carrots sometimes and tomatoes at other times. Have the raw baby bok choy, the raw broccoli, and shredded cabbage every day and then have fresh squeezed juice twice a day. Call me for a phone consult if you need me to review the whole menu with you.

Reply
I started juicing the cruciferous veggies on November 30th, and haven't had a hint of a headache in 17 days. I used to get them roughly once per week. So, the plan is working! I am thrilled.

I didn't realize until today what a "blended" salad was. I haven't been blending my salads, just eating a ton of raw salad. I'll need to try that next.
Thanks again.
Doug

Question(Posted on the forums 1/16/2005)
After following the E2L diet for a year, my niece (a.k.a. nutmeg on Dr. Fuhrman's forums) is still experiencing severe migraines and nausea in conjunction with her periods. She has read your book and your article on banishing headaches and migraines. She experiences these headaches and severe nausea ONLY during her periods. Headaches strike on the 2nd day of her period along with severe cramps. Both headaches and cramps last for 3 to 4 days every month and have been that way since she was a teenager. She's in her 40's now. She does take Advil for the cramps, but she says it doesn't touch the headaches. The only time in her life that she has been without the headaches at this time was a couple of years ago when she was on xanax, but she doesn't want to take drugs again. Do you have any further advice?
Donna

Answer
I find this hard to believe because it is exceedingly rare that headaches are not banished after so much time eating so healthfully. She might want to call me for a phone consultation so that I can help her uncover a potential factor which she is overlooking. Is she still overweight? Sleeping enough? Consuming any salt? Under psychological stress?

Reply by nutmeg
I did a one day fast, the E2L diet perfectly, and NO SALT whatsoever:

I made it through the week without a headache! The diet and mostly the NO SALT rule must have done the trick. Now, I'll duplicate it for the next few months to be sure! What a relief it is not to have that hang over feeling from the headache that always lasted a few days too, feeling crappy and out of it. I've never had a week this good for a "time of the month" ever, ever, ever!

Follow-Up by nutmeg 10/12/05
I wanted to follow up on this... it has now been 9 months and NO monthly migraines! The "no salt" rule followed very carefully has truly done the trick, and I couldn't be more pleased.
Thank you again Dr. Fuhrman, and anyone else reading this who has the same problem. Please, get all added salt out of your diet!

Senior Journal: Certain Foods May Save Men from Prostate Cancer

The Senior Journal has an article about the important role certain foods can play in the fight against prostate cancer. The article highlights broccoli and turmeric, but those two foods are merely the tip of the anti-cancer iceberg.

To understand better the effects of diet on cancer in general from Dr. Fuhrman's perspective, read this blog post about diet and cancer. And read this example of how one of Dr. Fuhrman's patients addressed his prostate cancer scare.

Study: Healthy, Restricted Calorie Diet Helps to Prevent Heart Disease and Cancer

The next issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology will include research comparing 25 members of the Calorie Restriction Society (aged 41 to 64)--who consume 1,400 to 2,000 nutrient-rich calories per day--with the same number of people who eat a typical Western diet of 2,000 to 3,000 calories per day.

They found that those on the restricted diet had significantly healthier hearts. Jim Salter describes it this way in an Associated Press article about the study:

"This is the first study to demonstrate that long-term calorie restriction with optimal nutrition has cardiac-specific effects that (delay or reverse) age-associated declines in heart function," said Luigi Fontana, lead author and assistant professor of medicine at Washington University in St. Louis.

The study will be published Tuesday in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Fontana said simply consuming less food is not the answer. Members of the study group eat food resembling a traditional Mediterranean diet, focusing on vegetables, olive oil, beans, whole grains, fish and fruit. They avoid refined and processed foods, soft drinks, desserts, white bread and other sources of "empty" calories.

For the general public, the researchers recommend a moderate reduction in calories, combined with moderate, regular exercise.

Research on mice and rats indicated that life span can be stretched by about 30 percent with stringent and consistent caloric restriction. That research also suggested that restricting calories can help prevent cancer.

Heart attacks and strokes cause about 40 percent of deaths in Western countries, researchers said. Cancer causes another 30 percent. Fontana said those deaths are attributable to "secondary aging" from high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure and other often-preventable conditions.

While it has long been known that a healthy diet and exercise can reduce risks, the study suggests that caloric restriction combined with optimal nutrition can do even more.

Vegetarian Diets are Not All Created Equal: An Example

From Dr. Fuhrman's book Eat to Live:

A patient came in for his yearly checkup. He was not overweight and had been following a vegetarian diet for years. I did a dietary review of what he ate regulary. He was eating "healthy" flaxseed waffles for breakfast, lots of pasta, whole-wheat bread, and vegan (no animal products) prepared frozen meals on a regular basis.

I spent about thirty minutes pointing out that he was certainly not following my dietary recommendations for excellent health and presented him with some menu suggestions and an outline of my nutritional prescription for superior health, which he agreed to follow.

Twelve weeks later, he had lost about eight pounds and I rechecked his lipid profile, because I didn't like the results we received from the blood test taken the day of his checkup.

The results speak for themselves:

2/1/2001

Cholesterol 230
Triglycerides 226
HDL 55
LDL 130
Cholesterol/HDL Ratio 4.18

5/2/2001

Cholesterol 174
Triglycerides 57
HDL 78
LDL 84
Cholesterol/HDL Ratio 2.23

Vegetarian or Semi-Vegetarian: Which is Better?

The following is an excerpt from the upcoming, newly revised version of Dr. Fuhrman's book Cholesterol Protection for Life.

Is a vegetarian diet healthier than a diet that contains a small amount of animal products?

We do not know for sure. The preponderance of evidence suggests that either a near-vegetarian diet or a vegetarian diet is the best, especially for patients with heart disease. In the massive China-Oxford-Cornell Project, reduction in heart disease and cancer rates continued to be observed as participants reduced their animal-food consumption all the way down to 1.7 small servings per week. Under this level, there is not enough data available.

Some smaller studies suggest that a small amount of fish added to a vegetarian diet adds benefit, which is the result of the documented benefits from the increased DHA-fat from fish. This benefit can be achieved and heart reversal maximized on a strict vegetarian diet by including flaxseeds and nuts that contain omega-3 such as walnuts and the addition of a DHA supplement. Whether you are a strict vegetarian or not, your diet still must be plant-predominant to achieve protection against both heart disease and cancer.

Certainly, more than a few small servings per week of animal foods (even if low in saturated fat) starts to increase cholesterol significantly and, in population studies, we observe an increasing incidence of heart attacks in susceptible individuals.

Most of my heart patients choose to follow a strict vegetarian diet. They do not want to chance putting even a little bit of gasoline on the fire. By taking a supplement of DHA fat, and utilizing a vegetarian diet, we see a dramatic end to their chest pains (angina), increased exercise tolerance, and most often, a reversal of their heart problems forever.

It is important to note that a vegetarian or vegan diet is deficient in meeting the nutrient needs of most individuals for vitamin B12; supplementation is essential. Some unique individuals with a genetic need for higher amounts of non-essential amino acids may feel healthier with a very small amount of animal products added to their diet, but this increased requirement that is rarely observed can also be met with a nutritional supplement that supplies the required need, such as extra carnitine and taurine.

It is also important to make sure Vitamin D intake is adequate in those not getting sufficient sunshine to meet their Vitamin D needs. Deficiency of Vitamin D is epidemic in America and this deficiency does not merely contribute to the development of osteoporosis, but to cancer and heart disease as well.

The supplementation plan in this book complements a healthy vegan diet to assure nutritional completeness and to maximize results. This recommended diet plan is rich in calcium and iron from green vegetables, contains adequate protein, and is otherwise extremely nutrient dense.

NY Times Prediction: Healthier Food in 2006

The New York Times writer Kim Severson says the big food trend of 2006 will be toward healthier food.

...one food trend rises above all others. With an aging population, an obesity crisis and a growing appreciation of bolder flavors and artisanal ingredients, American consumers increasingly want products that are perceived as natural, authentic and healthy, food consultants say.

"The move to 'real' food has legs and will be around for quite a while," said Marc Halperin, director of the Center for Culinary Development in San Francisco, where major food companies turn for trends and recipe development.

Interest in healthier, fresher food is in part a function of demographics. Aging baby boomers with palates seasoned by travel and fine dining are looking for food that not only tastes good but might ease their aching joints and weakening organs...

Consumers regard healthy as synonymous with natural and authentic, so the category of fresh, minimally processed and organic foods will continue to grow. But just because a food may have organic ingredients doesn't necessarily mean it has health benefits. Cheetos, for instance, now come in a "natural" version, made with organic cornmeal...

Grocery chains like Whole Foods and the growing network of farmers' markets, of which there are now 4,000, are the new theaters of this handmade indulgence.