Healthy or Costly?

The gripe that healthy food is more expensive than unhealthy food is debatable, but usually, the proof is found in the pudding. So, get a load of this chart from the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, via The Los Angeles Times:
Personally, I think it’s easy to live within your means and eat healthfully. The problem is $0.99 snack cakes and fast-food value menus are far more accessible and have million-dollar marketing campaigns behind them. What do you think?

Italian Vegetable Garden

Even if you don’t understand what he’s saying, the way this man describes his garden, still sounds poetic. Take a look:

Cooking Veggies...No Big Deal

I admit. For a long time I thought cooking vegetables killed them. Not so according to Dr. Fuhrman. He explains:
The raw-food movement continues to make converts, thanks to a devoted group of individuals and celebrities who embrace the belief that an all-raw food diet is the best diet. The idea that stirs the most enthusiasm for this diet is the contention that cooking both destroys about fifty percent of the nutrients in food, and destroys all or most of the life promoting enzymes.
Now, what about these enzymes? More from Dr. Fuhrman:
Contrary to what many raw-food web sites claim, the enzymes contained in the plants we eat do not catalyze chemical reactions that occur in humans. The plant enzymes merely are broken down into simpler molecules by our own powerful digestive juices. Even when the food is consumed raw, plant enzymes do not aid in their own digestion inside the human body. It is not true that eating raw food demands less enzyme production by your body, and dietary enzymes inactivated by cooking have an insignificant effect on your health and your body’s enzymes.
And here’s an interesting factoid, cooking can actually be beneficial. Dr. Fuhrman again:
In many cases, cooking destroys some of the harmful anti-nutrients that bind minerals in the gut and interfere with the utilization of nutrients. Destruction of these anti-nutrients increases absorption. Steaming vegetables and making vegetable soups breaks down cellulose and alters the plants’ cell structures so that fewer of your own enzymes are needed to digest the food, not more. The point is that this “cooked food is dead food” enzyme argument does not hold water. On the other hand, the roasting of nuts and the baking of cereals does reduce availability and absorbability of protein.
Get a load of this. Some new research has also determined that cooking vegetables might not damage their nutrient-load. More from CBS News:
The University of Parma's Nicoletta Pellegrini, PhD, and colleagues bought freshly harvested carrots, zucchini, and broccoli at a local market.

In their lab, the scientists measured levels of various antioxidants in the raw vegetables. Then they boiled, steamed, or fried the vegetables. Lastly, they measured antioxidant levels in the cooked vegetables.

Raw vegetables were loaded with antioxidants. After cooking, their antioxidant levels were a mixed bag.

In some cases, the veggies lost antioxidants to cooking. But not all antioxidants decreased when cooked -- and in some cases, certain antioxidant
levels rose when cooked.
Okay, this post isn’t intended to bash raw food—heck, Dr. Fuhrman eats plenty of raw veggies—in fact, he’ll tell you first hand, raw food is wonderful! Here’s one last quote:
Certainly, there are benefits to consuming plenty of raw fruits and vegetables. These foods supply us with high nutrient levels and the smallest number of calories. But the question we are looking at is this—Are there advantages to eating a diet of all raw foods and excluding all cooked foods?

Clearly, the answer is a resounding “No.” In fact, eating an exclusively raw-food diet is a disadvantage. To exclude all steamed vegetables and vegetable soups from your diet narrows the nutrient diversity of your diet and has a tendency to reduce the percentage of calories from vegetables, in favor of nuts and fruit, which are lower in nutrients per calorie.
I should point out, I’m eating a raw fruit and veggie chocolate pudding right now—YUM!

Centenarians, Healthy at 100

Here’s a great video from Dr. Fuhrman’s colleague John Robbins, author of the book Healthy at 100. He breaks down just what it takes to be healthy at and beyond 100 years of age. Check it out:

For reference, here are Robbins’ four healthiest societies. And no, Americans didn’t make the list. Have a look:
1. Abkhasia: Ancients of the Caucasus
Where people are healthier at ninety than most of us are at middle age.

2. Vilcabamba: The Valley of Eternal Youth

Where heart disease and dementia do not exist.

3. Hunza: A People Who Dance in Their Nineties

Where cancer, diabetes, and asthma are unknown.

4. The Centenarians of Okinawa
Where more people live to 100 than anywhere else in the world.
Well, I might be an Italian-American, but, I’m shooting for 100…and beyond!

The Broccoli Must Die!

Not only is this baby genius plotting the untimely death of broccoli, but, he can also cut a rug. Take a look:

Here’s the back story to this insidious plan: Baby Genius vs. Broccoli.

Dogs, Cats, Fruits, Veggies

Yup, I’m still gone—well, sort of—I hope you all are enjoying the holiday. One thing’s for sure. These cats and dogs are enjoying their phytonutrients! Check them out:

So cute, I’m going to explode—KABOOM!

Fruity and Veggie Videos

I’m gone for the holiday. In the meantime, enjoy these strange and mysterious fruit and veggie videos. Take a look:

A REAL Indian Veggie Market

Yesterday I flaunted my less than super geography skills. See for yourself:
Me: Here’s a look at vegetable market in what I think is India.

Commenter Guri: As the subtitle says, it's Kathmandu. Kathmandu is in Nepal.

Me: Clearly geography is not my strength. I didn't realize Kathmandu was spelled like that...I'll go and sit quietly in the corner.
Damn it. So, to redeem myself—I now present an actual Indian farmer’s market. Enjoy:

Thanks Guri! Om shanti.


Dr. Fuhrman will tell you, “Mushrooms make a great chewy replacement to meat. Exploring their varieties is a great way to add interesting flavors and texture to dishes.” But, did you know mushrooms are also potent prostate cancer-fighters? More from the AFP:
Researchers at the university in northern Israel said they found molecules in the Ganoderma lucidum mushroom, commonly known as the reishi, which help supress some mechanisms involved in the progression of prostate cancer.

"We already knew the mushroom could impede the development of cancer by affecting the immune system. The in-vitro trials we have done show that it attacks the cancer cells directly," chief researcher Ben Zion Zaidman told AFP.

"These results give rise to hope about developing medication to treat prostate cancer," he said of research carried out to date only in Petri dishes. The research still has to be tested on animals.
Mushrooms are one of my favorite foods! In fact, I’m debating adopting one of those truffle-sniffing dogs—kidding. But seriously, mushrooms are the real deal. Here Dr. Fuhrman explains why they’re especially good in the fight against cancer. Take a look:
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.
And for you mushroom-haters out there—you know who you are—eating mushrooms does not have to be an icky experience. Check out these amazing mushroom recipes:
Doubly Delicious Greens
1 large bunch bok choy, chopped
1 large bunch Swiss chard, chopped
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes (no salt)
2 cups shiitake and/or baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian herb seasoning
Place bok choy, Swiss chard, onions, and garlic in a large steamer and steam until almost tender, about 10 minutes. In a large pot add tomatoes, mushrooms, steamed greens mixture, and seasoning. Simmer over low heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Cabbage Mushroom Soup
15 oz. carrot juice
10 oz. celery juice
20 oz. water
6 onions
1 head green cabbage
3 stalks broccoli rabe
6 leaves collard greens
4 cups mushrooms, chopped (shiitake preferred)
1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. Salt-Free 17 Seasoning (Lawry’s)
1 tsp. Mrs. Dash
1/4 cup unhulled raw sesame seeds
1/4 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup red kidney beans
1/2 cup white beans
Cook all ingredients (except the sesame seeds and cashews) on a very low flame in a large covered pot. Remove the cabbage, broccoli rabe, and collards when soft and place in a blender or food processor. Ladle in a little of the soup liquid, purée, and pour the entire mixture back into the soup. Next, put the sesame seeds and cashews into the blender, ladle in some of the soup, purée until silky smooth, and pour the mixture into the soup. Continue cooking until the beans are soft, for about 2 hours. (The basic recipe can be made with any types of greens and beans.)

Veggie Market, Far-Far Away

Here’s a look at vegetable market in what I think is India. Check it out:

If it is India, Om Shanti.

Grand Rounds

Holiday Broccoli

The veggie music man is back! And this time he’s playing a familiar holiday song using…broccoli. No joke. Check it out:

Cruciferous and harmonious!

Improved Access to Fruits and Veggies

The U.S. Department of Agriculture wants moms to encourage their kids to eat more fruits and vegetables. More from EMaxHealth:
The Canned Food Alliance (CFA) commends the USDA for recognizing the importance that canned foods play in providing nutrition to American families through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), which serves millions of low-income mothers and children across the country.

The changes (reflected in federal regulations published today) ensure that a wide choice for fruits and vegetables is included in food packages for women and children. Participants will receive a monthly allotment for the purchase of fruits and vegetables in a variety of forms - canned, fresh and frozen. This is the first time in 30 years that the food packages include an emphasis on fruits and vegetables.

In addition to adding canned fruits and vegetables, the ruling now allows specific types of canned beans and peas as a substitution for dry, mature beans and peas. Canned light tuna will continue to be allowed and the new regulations include a variety of other canned fish as approved alternatives.
Provided they’re pushing salt-free canned goods, it seems like a good thing!

Kitty Loves Lettuce

This cat is very fond of the green stuff. Take a look:

Grandrounds 4.12

Radish Boogie Down

These radishes certainly know how to have a good time. Enjoy:

Boston Farmers Market

Well, we had a New York farmers market and now, a Boston farmers market. Check out bean-town:

Grand Rounds is here!

Veggies Caring and Sharing

The Peanut Gallery on Peanut Allergies

“Allergies are increasing because women do not breast feed long enough,” Dr. Fuhrman responded when I asked him to comment on this report claiming peanut allergies in children are on the rise. Andrew Stern of Reuters has more:

Allergies to peanuts and other foods are showing up in children at younger ages for reasons that are not clear, researchers said on Monday, and some urged parents to postpone exposing susceptible children to peanuts.

In a study of 140 children with peanut allergies, the median age of the first allergic reaction was 14 months among those born between 2000 and 2005, compared to 22 to 24 months among allergic children born between 1988 and 1999.

"There's a valid reason to delay introduction to products containing peanuts," said Dr. Todd Green of the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Dr. Fuhrman couldn’t agree less. “It is not delaying peanut introduction that will solve this problem, it is delaying the unhealthful cessation of breast feeding at too young an age,” Dr. Fuhrman points out. He talks more about it in Disease-Proof Your Child:

The antibodies derived from mother’s milk are necessary for maximizing immune system function, maximizing intelligence, and protecting against immune system disorders, allergies, and even cancer. The child’s immune system is still underdeveloped until age of two, the same age when the digestive tract seals the leaks (spaces between cells) designed to allow the mother’s antibodies access to the bloodstream. So picking the age of two as the length of recommended breast-feeding is not just a haphazard guess, it matches the age at which the child is no longer absorbing the mother’s immunoglobulins to supplement their own immune system. Nature designed it that way.

What really surprised me is according to Dr. Fuhrman roasting peanuts actually increase their allergen potency. Maybe it’ll make parents think twice before they slather peanut butter and jelly on two slices of white bread and shoo their kids off to school.

Soy Foods and Heart Disease

New research has determined that women who regularly eat soy-based foods lower their risk of heart disease. The AFP reports:
Soybeans -- eaten as tofu, miso soup or Japanese fermented beans known as "natto" -- have a high amount of isoflavones, a natural source of estrogen similar to the female hormone, the study found.

The risk of heart attacks or strokes for a woman who consumed soy at least five times a week was 0.39 compared with 1 for a woman who consumed the least, it said.

The results were even more striking among women past menopause, with the risk falling to 0.25, said Yoshihiko Kokubo, chief doctor of preventive cardiology at Japan's National Cardiovascular Center.
Soy—or edamame—beans are great! Tofu is cool too. But as Dr. Fuhrman points out, soy foods might be tasty, but don’t go overboard. From Eat to live:
Studies have shown soy's beneficial effects on cholesterol and other cardiovascular risk factors. However, there is no reason not to expect the same results from beans of any type--it's merely that more studies have been done on soy than on any other beans…

…I always recommended the consumption of a broad variety of phytochemical-rich foods to maximize one's health. Beans are no exception--try to eat different types of beans, not just soy.
This report is very similar to an earlier one claiming soy nuts can lower blood pressure in postmenopausal women. Nicholas Bakalar of The New York Times was on it:
The first group followed the same diet without soy. The second ate a half-cup a day of soy nuts while reducing protein intake from other sources. When hypertensive women were on the soy diet, they averaged a 9.9 percent decrease in systolic blood pressure (the top number in the reading) and a 6.8 percent decrease in diastolic pressure. Those with normal blood pressure also benefited from the soy diet, reducing systolic and diastolic readings by 5.2 percent and 2.9 percent respectively.
Now, this is a great time to note that not all soy foods are homeruns. As Dr. Fuhrman explains soy nuts aren’t so great. Take a look:
You should be aware that soy nuts, soymilk, and other processed soy products do not retain many of the beneficial compounds and omega-3 fats that are in the natural bean. The more the food is processed, the more the beneficial compounds are destroyed.
Lucky for us—and the women in the AFP report—Dr. Fuhrman still considers tofu and frozen or canned soybeans are a good source of omega-3 fat and calcium.

Yahoo Health: 4 Healthy Foods

Joy Bauer, MS, RD, CDN of Joy's Healthy Bite tells us about four healthy foods we should be eating. Check them out:
Beets are one of the best sources of folate, a nutrient which lowers your blood levels of homocysteine, an inflammatory amino acid produced by the body…

…Part of the cruciferous vegetable family, one cup of chopped cabbage contains 20 calories, two grams fiber and is loaded with sulforaphane, a cancer fighting chemical that's been shown to decrease cellular damage throughout the body…

…Guava is a tropical super fruit. One cup provides 110 calories, 376 milligrams Vitamin C (that's more than 300 percent of the daily value), 699 milligrams potassium and nine grams of fiber!Guava also provides a hearty dose of lycopene - an antioxidant that appears to fight prostate cancer (when it comes to lycopene, most people only think about tomatoes)…

…Studies have shown that eating foods rich in lutein and zeaxanthin can increase the pigment density in the macula-and greater pigment density means better retina protection, and a lower risk of macula degeneration. One cup steamed Swiss chard provides only 35 calories.
I doubt Dr. Fuhrman would argue with this list. Speaking of lists, get a load of Dr. Fuhrman’s fab five healthy foods:
Berries: Add berries to morning cereals. Make dessert sorbets from frozen berries. My kids love frozen strawberries blended with an orange or orange juice. We usually add a slice of dried pineapple and use our Vita-Mix to make a smooth and delicious strawberry sorbet.

Greens: Make steamed greens with a cashew butter cream sauce. Kids love it. We blend raw cashews and a few dried onion flakes with some soy milk and make a great sauce for chopped kale or broccoli.

Seeds: Seeds are super nutritious wonder foods. Try sprinkling some lightly toasted unhulled sesame seeds and sunflower seeds on salads and vegetables. We like to grind some into a powder and use it like salt on food.

Beans: Beans are fiber and nutrient packed. They give soups that chewy goodness and long-lasting satiety. Add a mixture of split peas, lentils, and adzuki beans to soups and simmer over low heat for about three hours.

Tomatoes: Tomatoes are a wonderful food in their own class. Whether you consider them a fruit or vegetable, it matters not. Slice them into pita pocket sandwiches. Mash some almond butter with a fork into some tomato sauce to add to the vegetable-tomato-sprout avocado pita pocket. What a great school lunch.
They all sound great to me!

Working Late and Cancer-Risk

According to a new study, working the late shift has been linked to an increased risk of cancer. Maria Cheng of the Associated Press reports:
If the shift work theory proves correct, millions of people worldwide could be affected. Experts estimate that nearly 20 percent of the working population in developed countries work night shifts.

It is a surprising twist for an idea that scientists first described as "wacky," said Richard Stevens, a cancer epidemiologist and professor at the University of Connecticut Health Center. In 1987, Stevens published a paper suggesting a link between light at night and breast cancer.

Back then, he was trying to figure out why breast cancer incidence suddenly shot up starting in the 1930s in industrialized societies, where nighttime work was considered a hallmark of progress. Most scientists were bewildered by his proposal.

But in recent years, several studies have found that women working at night for many years are indeed more prone to breast cancer, and that animals who have their light-dark schedules switched grow more cancerous tumors and die quicker.
This doesn’t surprise me. In my supermarket days I used to work overnights a lot and after a few days of that—I felt like crap! Not good according to Dr. Fuhrman:
A safe and satisfying work environment, a happy marriage, a satisfying social and/or family life, and activities you enjoy are all related to positive health outcomes. Emotional wellness starts right here your finger tips end. As you respect and appreciate the value in the world around you and develop interests in other people and in such things as art, music, entertainment, sports, nature, and physical activity, you can respect yourself more for your ability and desire to appreciate the value of things not yourself.

In other words, as you learn about and begin to care for things, you gain a legitimate reason to be pleased with yourself. A healthy emotional response to life hinges on your ability to grant value and importance to things that are deserving of it. This ability and desire to interact in a fair and equitable way with the world around you forms the basis of your emotional contentment and self-esteem.
Although, now I often find myself blogging in the middle of night…stupid!

Broccoli Kitty

This tuxedo cat just loves some broccoli. Take a look: