June 17, 2004 — Blueberries may be the poster children for antioxidant abundance, but a new study suggests the humble bean may be a more deserving candidate.
The largest and most advanced analysis of the antioxidant content of common foods to date shows that disease-fighting antioxidants may be found in unexpected fruits and vegetables, such as beans, artichokes, and even the much-maligned Russet potato.
Researchers found that small red beans contain more disease-fighting antioxidants than both wild and cultivated blueberries, which have been heralded in recent years for their high antioxidant content. In fact, three of the top five antioxidant-rich foods studied were beans.ADVERTISEMENT
The study also shows that nuts and spices, such as ground cloves, cinnamon, and oregano, are rich in antioxidants, although they are generally consumed in much smaller amounts than fruits and vegetables.
Antioxidants are believed to help prevent and repair oxidative stress, a process that damages cells within the body and has been linked to the development of cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and .
Ranking Antioxidant-Rich Foods
The study, which appears in the June 9 issue of the Journal of Agricultural
and Food Chemistry, used updated technology to assess the antioxidant content of more than 100 foods, including fruits, vegetables, cereals, breads, nuts, and spices.
Each food was analyzed for antioxidant concentration and ranked according to antioxidant capacity per serving size. But researchers note that the total antioxidant capacity of a food does not necessarily reflect their potential health benefit.
“A big factor in all of this is what happens in the digestion and absorption process,” says Researcher Ronald Prior, PhD, a chemist and nutritionist with the USDA’s Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center in Little Rock, Ark. “With some of these compounds, it appears that even though they have a high antioxidant capacity, they may not be absorbed.”
Cranberries, blueberries, and blackberries were ranked highest among the fruits studied. Beans, artichokes, and Russet potatoes were tops among the vegetables.
Pecans, walnuts, and hazelnuts were the winners in the nut category, and ground cloves, cinnamon, and oregano were the top three antioxidant-rich spices.
Here’s the list of the top 20 food sources of antioxidants, based on their total antioxidant capacity per serving size:
|RankÂ||Food itemÂ||Serving size||Total antioxidant capacity per serving size|
|1||Small Red Bean (dried)||Half cup||13727|
|2||Wild blueberry||1 cup||13427|
|3||Red kidney bean (dried)||Half cup||13259|
|4||Pinto bean||Half cup||11864|
|5||Blueberry (cultivated)||1 cup||9019|
|6||Cranberry||1 cup (whole)||8983|
|7||Artichoke (cooked)||1 cup (hearts)||7904|
|9||Dried Prune||Half cup||7291|
|12||Red Delicious apple||One||5900|
|13||Granny Smith apple||One||5381|
|15||Sweet cherry||1 cup||4873|
|17||Russet potato (cooked)||One||4649|
|18||Black bean (dried)||Half cup||4181|
Researchers also found that cooking method also had a significant effect on the antioxidant content of the foods tested, but those effects were not consistent.
For example, cooked Russet and red potatoes had much lower antioxidant levels than those found in raw potatoes. Boiling also decreased antioxidant levels in carrots, but cooking tomatoes increased their antioxidant content.
Putting Antioxidants in Perspective
Registered dietitian David Grotto says he was amazed to see that unexpected foods, such as beans, potatoes, and artichokes, were so highly ranked by the study.
“With the onslaught of ‘no carbs’ going on out there, it’s nice that we can show that the potato brings more to the table than just carbohydrates,” says Grotto, who is director of nutrition at Block Center for Integrative Cancer Care in Evanston, Ill.
“The message here is diverse diet is still optimal,” Grotto tells WebMD. “You don’t want to be on the all-red-bean diet because it may have the unique set of antioxidants that are attributed to beans, but it may not have many of the antioxidants that you would find in a wild blueberry.”
Nor does it mean that you should limit your diet to only the foods that made the study’s top 20 list or start popping antioxidant supplements.
“What we’re discovering is that we only know about a thimbleful of all the antioxidants that are probably within foods,” says Grotto, who is also a spokesman for the American Dietetic Association. “What’s unique about eating foods vs. supplements is that there is always more bang for the buck in eating the foods, and you get a lot of those compounds that we really don’t fully understand the benefits of yet.”
- Grotto recommends the following tips to incorporate more antioxidant-rich foods into your diet:
- Make bean cubes. Process leftover beans with a little vegetable broth in a food processor until it forms a thin paste. Pour into ice cube trays, and then use the frozen cubes to thicken soups and sauces.
- Substitute beans for meats. Most recipes that call for ground or cubed meats, such as stews and casseroles, also work with beans like lentils, chickpeas, or black beans in the starring role.
- Be berry sneaky. Toss a handful of berries on your breakfast cereal or blend them into fruit smoothies for a healthy breakfast or snack.
But don’t despair if your favorite food didn’t make the list. Antioxidants are only one piece of the healthy eating puzzle.
“Some of those foods that are low in antioxidants may have other positive benefits, such as fiber, minerals, and other nutrients that are important,” says Prior.
Natural, lifestyle-based strategies have proven extraordinarily effective in reducing cholesterol quickly and permanently. Get the top 5 food and fitness tips recommended by the doctors, dietitians, exercise experts, and other faculty at the Pritikin Longevity Center. Pritikin has been helping people lower cholesterol levels since 1975.
Did you know that for every 10% drop in your cholesterol level, your heart attack risk drops by 20% to 30%? There’s more good news: Most of us can reduce cholesterol quickly, and without the need for medications. Simple lifestyle strategies can be very powerful.
That’s what several studies on thousands following the Pritikin Program of diet and exercise have found. Within three weeks, people were able to lower their cholesterol levels on average 23%, which translates into a 46% to 69% drop in heart attack risk.1
5 Tactics To Reduce Cholesterol Quickly
Below are 5 of the key lifestyle-change tactics taught by the physicians, registered dietitians, exercise physiologists, and other faculty at the Pritikin Longevity Center in Miami for fast, significant lowering of cholesterol levels, particularly LDL bad cholesterol.
If you’re serious about lowering your cholesterol and taking good care of your heart, these 5 tactics are a great place to start. They’ll also help you shed excess weight, which will also improve heart health.
Focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans
Our typical American diet is now abbreviated as SAD (Standard American Diet) by scientists nationwide because it’s full of foods that do sad things to both hearts and waistlines. Hyperprocessed foods like potato chips and French fries. Sugar-saturated drinks. And fatty, artery-clogging meats and full-fat dairy foods like cheese.
We don’t have to become complete vegetarians to get our cholesterol levels into healthy ranges, studies on the Pritikin Program have found, but clearly, the more vegetables, fruits, potatoes, and other naturally-fiber-rich plant foods we eat, the healthier we’ll be.
Plant foods high in soluble fiber are especially beneficial in lowering total and LDL bad cholesterol levels. Good sources include beans (pinto beans, black beans, etc), yams, oats (yes, eat your oatmeal!), barley, and berries.
For simple tips on bringing more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans into your life, here is a 5-day sample healthy meal plan from the doctors and dietitians at Pritikin Longevity Center.
Eat far fewer of the following fats…
Foods with a lot of heart-damaging saturated fat include butter, meat, palm oil, coconut oil, and full-fat and low-fat dairy products, such as whole milk, low-fat milk, cheese, and cream.
If you see partially hydrogenated fat in the Ingredient List of a food label, that food has trans fats, which not only raise bad LDL cholesterol, they also lower good HDL cholesterol.
Top sources of dietary cholesterol include egg yolks, organ meats, and shellfish.
One type of fat – omega-3 fatty acids – has been shown to protect against heart disease. Excellent sources are cold-water fish like salmon, mackerel, halibut, trout, herring, and sardines.
But do keep in mind that limiting fat intake, even so-called “good” fats like omega-3 fat or Mediterranean-style fats like olive oil, is a good idea because any fat is dense with calories, which means heavy consumption can easily lead to a heavy body. That’s bad news not just for our weight but our hearts because being overweight adversely affects blood cholesterol levels.
Excess weight is linked not just to heart disease but to a staggering list of other woes, including Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, gout, dementia, and many cancers.
Eat more plant sources of protein…
Excellent plant proteins include beans – all beans, like lentils, red beans, pinto beans, and soybeans. Rather than raising blood cholesterol levels, as animal sources of protein do, beans actually help lowercholesterol.
Beans also help reduce blood sugar and insulin levels, and may even lower cancer risk.
When choosing products made from soybeans, stick to:
(available in most grocery store freezer sections, often described as edamame)
vanilla, original, or unsweetened
(unflavored/unmarinated – found in refrigerator cases)
All the above are great choices for your cholesterol profile and overall health.
Eat fewer refined grains, such as white flour.
We’re a nation of “white food” eaters – white bread, white rice, white pasta, and white-flour foods like muffins, croissants, bagels, crackers, dried cereals, tortillas, pretzels, and chips. Yes, more than half of many Americans’ typical diets are made up of hyperprocessed refined white flour, often injected with sugar, salt, and/or fat.
That’s a real problem in part because the more white, or refined, grains we eat, the fewer whole grains we tend to take in. Research has found that eating whole grains can help lower both total and LDL cholesterol, and improve heart health.
In Harvard University’s Nurses’ Health Study, for example, women who ate two to three servings of whole-grain products (mostly bread and breakfast cereals) each day were 30% less likely to have a heart attack or die from heart disease over a 10-year period than women who ate less than one serving of whole grains per week.2
When first starting to make the switch from refined to whole grains, many people often feel a bit confused. Where to begin? What’s whole? What isn’t?
The registered dietitians at the Pritikin Longevity Center start with one very simple rule. When looking at products like breads and cereals, they recommend turning the package around and making sure the first word in the Ingredient List is “whole.” If you see the word “whole” at the top of the list, it’s a good bet that what you’re buying is in fact 100% whole grain, or close to it.
Another tip for getting more whole grains in your life comes from the chefs at Pritikin, who teach healthy cooking classes every day at the Center. “Expand your culinary horizons. There are many delicious whole-grain choices in just about every grocery store. Get beyond brown rice!” encourages Executive Chef Anthony Stewart.
“Introduce yourself to a whole new world of flavors with whole grains like whole-wheat couscous, polenta (cornmeal), quinoa, wild rice, and kasha.”
The really good news is that many whole grains are surprisingly quick and easy to prepare. Often, all you need is a pot of hot water and a little stirring actio
Regular exercise may only slightly lower your total and LDL cholesterol levels, but it often does a very good job, in combination with a healthy eating plan like Pritikin, of helping you shed excess weight, which can dramatically improve your cholesterol profile.
Just getting out for a 30-minute walk most days of the week is a great start, but for optimal health and protection from cardiovascular disease, the exercise physiologists at the Pritikin Longevity Center coach people in three key forms of exercise:
daily, a minimum of 30 minutes and optimally 60 to 90 minutes, alternating moderate-intensity days with vigorous-intensity days.
“But don’t think you have to do it all at once,” says Pritikin Fitness Director Scott Danberg, MS. “If you’re pressed for time, something like 15 minutes of brisk walking in the morning, another 15 at lunch, and another 15 after dinner is an excellent alternative.”
Concerned about vigorous exercise? Afraid it might be harmful to your heart? Before launching an exercise program, it’s always important to schedule an appointment with your physician to make sure you’re in good shape for cardiovascular workouts. At Pritikin, every guest undergoes treadmill stress testing, plus a 1-hour consultation with one of Pritikin’s board-certified physicians, before starting exercise classes.
routine two to three times weekly.
You don’t need high-tech weight machines, guests at Pritikin learn. Simple hand weights or resistance bands can provide a superb full-body workout, and in just 20 to 25 minutes.
daily to greatly enhance overall flexibility and ability to exercise more freely.
“For stretching, many of our guests really enjoy our yoga classes,” observes Scott Danberg. “Yoga is a wonderful way to wind down after cardiovascular and resistance training.”
Eating Well + Exercise
For best results with a healthy lifestyle, new research has found that plunging right in with both healthy eating and exercising is the way to go.3
The Stanford University School of Medicine study involved 200 middle-aged Americans, all sedentary and with poor eating habits. Some were told to launch new food and fitness habits at the same time. Others began dieting but waited several months before beginning to exercise. A third group started exercising but didn’t change eating habits till several months later.
All the groups received telephone coaching and were followed for one year. The winning group was the one making food and exercise changes together. The people in this group were most likely to meet U.S. guidelines for exercise (150 minutes per week) and healthy eating (5 to 9 servings of fruit and vegetables per day), and to keep calories from saturated fat at less than 10% of their total intake of calories.
If lifestyle changes aren’t enough…
Take medications, if you need to, to lower your cholesterol into healthy ranges. “Drugs like statins can be very effective,” says cardiologist and Pritikin Medical Director Ronald Scheib, MD, “but do continue in your efforts to eat well and exercise because a healthy lifestyle can give you far, far more than drugs alone.
“With a healthy living program like Pritikin, you’re not only reducing cholesterol quickly, you’re also creating changes throughout your body that can profoundly improve your overall well-being. You’re reducing blood sugar levels and blood pressure. Other heart disease risk factors like triglyceride fats are also dropping dramatically. You’re also reducing inflammatory factors that sicken arteries. You’re shedding excess weight. And, quite simply, you’re feeling better, much better. Many of our guests at Pritikin tell us, ‘I had no idea I could feel this good again.’
“Can any pill or combination of pills do all of the above? I highly doubt it. But a healthy lifestyle like Pritikin can.”
NYC’s trans-fat ban has actually started saving lives
By Danika Fears April 12, 2017 | 4:25pm | Updated
Modal Trigger NYC’s trans-fat ban has actually started saving lives
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It looks as if Nanny Bloomberg was right all along.
New York City’s ban on trans fats appears to be working out just as the former mayor had hoped, with research suggesting that people are healthier in places that forbid the heart-clogging oils.
Hospitals in New York counties with trans-fat bans saw a 6 percent drop in heart attacks and strokes three years after the laws went into effect, as compared with areas without restrictions, according to a new report in JAMA Cardiology.
That means there were 43 fewer heart attacks and strokes per 100,000 people, according to researcher Dr. Eric Brandt, a Yale University cardiology fellow.
Under the Bloomberg administration, the Big Apple in 2006 banned trans fats in restaurants, which often used the grease for french fries and other dishes.
The city’s restrictions applied to food purchased outside of stores, such as at restaurants, street vendors and bakeries.
The ban was originally scoffed at by some who feared the flavor of some foods might be ruined.
But, unlike Mike Bloomberg’s attempted crackdown on sugary drinks, the trans-fat ban was soon accepted by the public. Years later, few complain about it. In 2015 the FDA announced it would spread the trans-fat prohibition nationwide, starting in 2018.
Brandt said this is the first study to confirm public health has been improved by the ban.
“New York City was progressive and they enacted restrictions on trans fats, but no one looked to see if this made measurable changes to outcomes,” he said.
“There has been a lot of looking into whether trans fats are harmful. Here we find on a population level that when we restrict them, it benefits society by reducing heart attacks and strokes.”
Researchers conducting the study compared data on people hospitalized between 2002 and 2013 for heart attacks or strokes in counties that did restrict trans fats with data for counties that did not.
Stroke kills about 5 million people worldwide per year. It’s the leading cause of permanent disability in the U.S., and it’s a rapidly growing threat for middle-aged women in particular. But if you want to prevent yourself and those you love from getting a stroke, there’s good news…
Basic lifestyle changes can have a big impact in reducing stroke risk. In fact, according to research, stroke is 80% preventable by addressing lifestyle factors, including improving diet, stopping smoking, and getting regular exercise.
The best way to prevent stroke is by improving your diet
According to Food Revolution Summit speaker Michael Greger, MD, the best way to avoid suffering from a stroke is to eat a whole foods, plant-based diet centered around vegetables, lentils, beans, seeds, whole grains, fruits, and nuts.
But to get the full benefits, plant-strong eaters must have a regular, reliable source of B12 — meaning B12-fortified foods or supplements.
Why do plant-based diets lower the risk of stroke?
One reason why plant-based diets protect against stroke is due to thefiber found in whole plant foods. Studies find that for every 7 grams of fiber you eat per day, you get nearly a 7% drop in the risk of first-time stroke. But less than 3% of Americans meet the minimum daily recommendation for fiber.
Plant foods are also filled with antioxidants. Antioxidant-packed foods help reduce inflammation and prevent plaque buildup in the arteries, and they also improve blood flow.
In a study of more than 30,000 older women over a period of 12 years, those who ate the most antioxidant-rich foods had the lowest stroke risk. (However, choosing antioxidant supplements didn’t appear to help.)
On average, plant foods contain 64 times more antioxidants than animal foods. But you should always strive for a variety of fruits, veggies, herbs, and spices at every meal, so you can continuously flood your body with a wide range of antioxidants.
Specific foods to consume regularly if you want to avoid stroke
In one study, adding an ounce of nuts per day seemed to cut the risk of stroke in half.
In the U.S. alone, this could prevent 89,000 strokes per year.
According to studies led by Harvard researchers, greens turned out to be associated with the strongest protection against major chronic diseases, including a 20% reduction for strokes (and heart disease) for every additional serving.
According to population studies that followed people over time, those who ate chocolate appeared to have lower rates of stroke.
But the sugar and dairy that come with most types of chocolate aren’t linked to positive health outcomes, so dark chocolate with high cacao content is the best choice.
- Citrus fruits
Citrus intake has been associated with lower stroke risk.
According to a study of 70,000 women published in the journal Stroke, women who consumed the most flavonoids from citrus fruits over a 14-year period had a 19% lower risk of stroke than women who consumed the fewest.
- Whole grains
Eating whole grains has been found to be associated with a reduced risk of stroke. In his book How Not to Die, Dr. Greger recommends at least 3 servings of whole grains each day for stroke prevention.
Garlic is a great choice for reducing stroke risk. A human study found that regular garlic consumption resulted in a 50% reduction in rates of stroke.
High levels of lycopene, which is found in tomatoes, may be associated with a significantly reduced risk of stroke.
According to an analysis published in Neurology, which followed more than 1,000 Finnish men aged 46 to 55, those with the highest lycopene levels were 55% less likely to have a stroke.
- Coffee and green tea
And those who drank 2 to 3 cups of green tea daily had a 14% reduced risk.
- Potassium-rich foods
Eating more potassium-rich foods is associated with a significantly lower stroke risk. In one study, a 1,600 milligrams per day increase in potassium intake was associated with a 21% lower stroke risk — and this amount didn’t even bring many study participants to the minimum daily recommendations.
But less than 2% of Americans reach the daily potassium intake because most people don’t eat enough unprocessed plant foods.
Potassium is abundant in fruits and vegetables. Greens, beans, and sweet potatoes are excellent sources of potassium.
- Magnesium-rich foods
According to a meta-analysis of studies, higher magnesium intake is associated with a reduced risk of stroke.
Beans, leafy greens, and whole grains are all loaded with magnesium.
Foods to avoid if you want to avoid stroke
The standard Western diet has been found to be associated with a 58% increase in stroke risk.
Studies indicate that it is particularly important to reduce your intake of the following foods:
- High cholesterol foods
- Salty foods
Uric acid is a compound produced by your body when it breaks down certain foods. Too little uric acid is associated with stroke. People on dairy-free plant-strong diets are most likely to hit the sweet spot in terms of optimal uric acid levels for longevity, so this is one of the reasons limiting or cutting out dairy can help reduce your risk of stroke.
A meta-analysis on meat found a 10% increased risk of stroke associated with each three-and-a-half-ounce daily portion of red and processed meat. The heme iron in meat has also been found to be associated with stroke risk, while no association was found between the non-heme iron in plants and stroke.
Another factor may be the toxic pollutants, like PCBs, that can build up in animal fats. People with the highest levels of these pollutants in their bloodstream increase their odds of stroke by as much as 8 or 9 times.
- Diet soda
Research presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference showed that people who drink just one diet soda a day may increase their risk of stroke by 48%.
Other lifestyle factors to help prevent stroke
Exercise is medicine, and regular exercise can help you prevent stroke. In fact, researchers at the London School, Harvard, and Stanford found that exercise worked just as well as drugs for stroke (and heart disease) treatment.
But how much exercise do you need? Most health and fitness organizations advocate walking an hour 5 days a week.
- Weight Loss
If you’re overweight, even losing 10 pounds can have a substantial impact on your stroke risk.
- Optimal Sleep
If you want to reduce your risk of stroke, getting the optimal amount of sleep regularly is important.
Researchers at the University of Alabama found a strong link between getting less than 6 hours of sleep and a greater incidence of stroke symptoms for people over 45.
According to scientists at Harvard University, people with sunny dispositions are far less likely to suffer from strokes or heart attacks.
Studies found a 50% reduction in cardiovascular disease for those who scored highest for optimism and vitality.
- Vitamin D
Low levels of vitamin D increase your risk of risk. According to onestudy, low levels of vitamin D doubles the risk of stroke in Caucasians. Vitamin D levels can be increased with exposure to sun, supplementation, or by eating vitamin D-fortified foods.
Strokes typically occur without any warning at all, so prevention is critical.
If you want to avoid suffering from stroke, consuming a variety of whole, plant-based foods and eating fewer animal products and processed foods, along with exercise, getting enough sleep, releasing excess weight, and staying positive can go a long way in helping you achieve this goal.
And if you have high blood pressure, you can lower it with these heart-healthy foods.
November 14, 2016 Categories: Heart News, Scientific Conferences & Meetings
Postmenopausal women who follow a high-protein diet could be at higher risk of heart failure, especially if most of their protein comes from meat.
Researchers combined dietary self-reports with biomarkers to determine actual dietary protein intake as self-reporting alone is often inaccurate.
Embargoed until 8 a.m. CT/ 9 a.m. ET, Monday, Nov. 14, 2016
NEW ORLEANS, Nov. 14, 2016 — Women over the age of 50 who follow a high-protein diet could be at higher risk for heart failure, especially if much of their protein comes from meat, according to preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2016.
Researchers evaluated the self-reported daily diets of 103,878 women between the ages of 50 and 79 years, from 1993 to 1998. A total of 1,711 women developed heart failure over the study period. The rate of heart failure for women with higher total dietary protein intake was significantly higher compared to the women who ate less protein daily or got more of their protein from vegetables.
While women who ate higher amounts of vegetable protein appeared to have less heart failure, the association was not significant when adjusted for body mass.
“Higher calibrated total dietary protein intake appears to be associated with substantially increased heart failure risk while vegetable protein intake appears to be protective, although additional studies are needed to further explore this potential association,” said Mohamad Firas Barbour, M.D., study author and internist at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island, in Pawtucket.
The findings were true regardless of age, race or ethnicity, level of education, or if the women had high blood pressure (2.9 percent), diabetes (8.3 percent), coronary artery disease (7.1 percent), anemia (3.4 percent), or atrial fibrillation (4.9 percent).
The subjects were all participants in the Women’s Health Initiative, an ongoing, long-term national dietary survey investigating strategies for reducing heart disease, breast and colorectal cancer, and osteoporosis.
Researchers said other studies have found a link between increased protein from meat and cardiovascular risk in women.
“Our findings should be interpreted with caution, but it appears that following a high-protein diet may increase heart failure risk,” Barbour
American Diabetes Association Promotes Plant-Based Diets
In its 2017 Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes, the American Diabetes Association maintains that a plant-based eating pattern is an effective option for type 2 diabetes management and encourages clinicians to always include education on lifestyle management.
American Diabetes Association. Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes – 2017. Diabetes Care. 2017;40(Suppl 1):S1-S135.
In a prospective, randomised, controlled trial to determine whether comprehensive lifestyle changes affect coronary atherosclerosis after 1 year, 28 patients were assigned to an experimental group (low-fat vegetarian diet, stopping smoking, stress management training, and moderate exercise) and 20 to a usual-care control group. 195 coronary artery lesions were analysed by quantitative coronary angiography. The average percentage diameter stenosis regressed from 40·0 (SD 16·9)% to 37·8 (16·5)% in the experimental group yet progressed from 42·7 (15·5)% to 46·1 (18·5)% in the control group. When only lesions greater than 50% stenosed were analysed, the average percentage diameter stenosis regressed from 61·1 (8·8)% to 55·8 (11·0)% in the experimental group and progressed from 61·7 (9·5)% to 64·4 (16·3)% in the control group. Overall, 82% of experimental-group patients had an average change towards regression. Comprehensive lifestyle changes may be able to bring about regression of even severe coronary atherosclerosis after only 1 year, without use of lipid-lowering drugs.
Dean Ornish recommendations “An optimal diet for preventing disease is a whole-foods, plant-based diet that is naturally low in animal protein, harmful fats and refined carbohydrates. What that means in practice is little or no red meat; mostly vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes and soy products in their natural forms; very few simple and refined carbohydrates such as sugar and white flour; and sufficient “good fats” such as fish oil or flax oil, seeds and nuts. A healthful diet should be low in “bad fats,” meaning trans fats, saturated fats and hydrogenated fats. Finally, we need more quality and less quantity.”
A bowl of oatmeal a day could be the secret to a longer and healthier life, say scientists
Sarah Knapton, The Telegraph
A large bowl of oatmeal each day could protect against death from cancer, the biggest ever analysis of the benefits of whole grains has shown.
Oats have long been considered a superfood, staving off illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease.
But now a review by Harvard University has found that whole grains also appear to prevent early death and lower the chance of dying from cancer.
A meta-analysis of 12 studies involving nearly 800,000 people found that eating 70 grams of whole grains a day – the equivalent of a large bowl of oatmeal – lowers the risk of all-cause death by 22 per cent and death from cancer by 20 per cent. It also reduces the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by 20 per cent.
Scientists believe that whole grains help lower cholesterol and help regulate blood sugar, as well as making people feel full for longer, meaning they do not snack on unhealthy foods. The same effect could be gained from eating bran, quinoa or a mix of grains.
“Based on the solid evidence from this meta-analysis and numerous previous studies that collectively document beneficial effects of whole grains, I think health care providers should unanimously recommend whole grain consumption to the general population as well as to patients with certain diseases to help achieve better health and perhaps reduce death,” said Dr Qi Sun, assistant professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts.
Whole grains, where the bran and germ remain, contain 25 per cent more protein than refined grains, such as those used to make white flour, pasta and white rice.
Previous studies have shown that whole grains can boost bone mineral density, lower blood pressure, promote healthy gut bacteria and reduce the risk of diabetes.
APWhole grains contain 25 per cent more protein than refined grains and are believed to boost levels of antioxidants
One particular fibre found only in oats – called beta-glucan – has been found to lower cholesterol which can help to protect against heart disease.
A bioactive compound called avenanthramide is also thought to stop fat forming in the arteries, preventing heart attacks and strokes.
Whole grains are recommended in many dietary guidelines because they contain high levels of nutrients such as zinc, copper, manganese, iron and thiamine. They are also believed to boost levels of antioxidants, which combat free-radicals linked to cancer.
The new research suggests that if more people switched to whole grains, thousands of lives could be saved each year. Cumulatively, cancer kills around 160,000 people a year while coronary heart disease is responsible for around 73,000 deaths in the UK each year.
If more people switched to whole grains, thousands of lives could be saved each year
Health experts said the study proved that whole grains were essential for good health.
Victoria Taylor, senior dietitian at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Eating more whole grains is a simple change we can make to improve our diet and help lower our risk of heart and circulatory disease. Choosing brown rice, wholewheat pasta, wholemeal or granary bread instead of white and swapping to whole grain breakfast cereals such as porridge are all simple ways to help us up our fibre and wholegrain intake.”
The researchers said a 16-gram serving of whole grain lowered the risk of total death by seven per cent, and cancer by 5 per cent.