Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Go "Nuts" for Nuts !

Typicaly, nuts are not thought of as food.

Nuts are usually considered as something of a novelty you consume with a drink at a bar or on an airplane flight.

The fact is; Nuts have been part of our natural diet for hundreds of thousand years. In fact our "hunter-gatherer" diet may have consisted more on nuts, seeds, wild berries and herbs than the occasional kill. ( I am pretty sure that hunting an animal with sticks and stones wasn't that easy ! )

The health promoting properties of nuts have been known for a long time but this fact has never been publisized until recently.

A Harvard study recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine reports that; "frequency of nut consumption is inversely associated with total and cause-specific mortality".

The translation of this is : Eat nuts and you live longer !

Here's why ;

  • Heart Healthy Fats - Nuts contain unsaturated healthy fats ( mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated ) that lower the levels of bad cholesterol.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids- Most nuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that fight inflammation and protect the heart.
  • Plant Proteins - Half of our daily recommended protein intake should come from plant sources and nuts are packed with them.
  • Plant Sterols - Help to reduce bad cholesterol
  • Fiber - Reduces fat absorbtion from the bowels and helps to lower cholesterol, Fiber also makes you feel full, so you eat less.
  • Vitamin E - Is a powerful antioxidant that protects against heart disease and various cancers.
  • Selenium - Is associated with a reduction in cancer risk
  • L-arginine - In the body this essential amino acid is converted to "nitric oxide" (NO). Nitric oxide is a powerful neurotransmitter that helps blood vessels relax to improve circulation. ( A note for the guys; Viagra works through increasing NO !!! ) 

Walnuts, Pecans, Brazil Nuts, Hazelnuts, Almonds and Pistachios not only offer numerous health benefits but are tasty and satisfying. An ounce before meals will supress the apetite and prevent excess eating. Nuts are also an excelent choice as a snack when hunger knocks the door.

Prefer unsalted and dry roasted nuts.

2 ounces of an assortment of nuts per day should be part of our healthy nutrition plan.

Take Care,

Monday, February 2, 2015

The "King" of Vegetables : Broccoli !

In my article on "middle age nutrition" I mentioned that broccoli is a very special vegetable and is in a category of it's own.

All vegetables are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and more importantly "phytochemical" molecules that possess a wide variety of health promoting properties. Broccoli is no exception;

Health Benefits of Broccoli 

  • Excellent source of dietary Fiber; essential for good digestion and regularity, cholesterol regulation and immune function.
  • Excellent source of vitamins; A, B, C and K
  • Excellent source of minerals; Calcium, Iron, Zinc and Phosphorous
  • Excellent source of the phytochemical molecule; Sulforaphane
Sulforaphane is what makes broccoli so special !

Health promoting properties of Sulforaphane
  • Sulforaphane is a very strong (indirect) antioxidant. It activates the body's natural antioxidant defense system through a gene called Nrf2. 
  • Sulforaphane is a very strong "anti-inflammatory" molecule.
  • Sulforaphane is the strongest natural "anticarcinogenic" molecule known to man.
With these properties Broccoli and Sulforaphane;
  • Protects against Heart Disease
  • Protects against Diabetes induced vascular and cardiac complications
  • Protects against Cancer
  • Protects against Neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer
  • Protects against Osteoarthritis
  • Protects against UV Radiation and skin cancer.
Broccoli is a must in the "middle age nutrition" menu !!

A cup of steamed Broccoli a day is an insurance policy against many age related chronic diseases.

Mediterranean Broccoli Dressing
  • 4 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves of crushed Garlic
  • 1 tablespoon crushed mustard seeds
Drizzle dressing over steamed Broccoli !

"Broccoli Sprouts"  

For those of you who need an extra "bang" of Sulforaphane; "Broccoli Sprouts" are an excellent option. Johns Hopkins researchers found that the 4 day old baby sprouts of the broccoli seeds contain 20 to 50 times more sulforaphane ounce per ounce than the mature vegetable.

Broccoli sprouts also has the advantage of being easier to consume ( no preperation needed as it is eaten raw ) and does not have the aroma of broccoli that can be offensive to some individuals.

Broccoli and/or Broccoli Sprouts are a must for middle age nutrition and should be consumed at least 3-4 times a week !

Bon Apetit,

Take Care,

The "True" Facts about Coronary Heart Disease

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is a disease in which a fatty substance called “plaque” builds up inside the coronary arteries. This process is called “atherosclerosis” and is the pathology that leads to heart attacks and strokes.

CHD is predominantly a disease of the “middle aged” and older population. Men over 40 and women over 50 are candidates for CHD. Lately we have begun to see CHD in even younger individuals, due to an increase in obesity and diabetes caused by “bad” nutrition.
Coronary heart disease is the # 1 cause of death among men and women in the US, claiming more than 600,000 lives a year ! ( thats like 3 Jumbo jets crashing every day ! )

CDC statistics reveal that approximately 750,000 Americans have a heart attack every year at a cost of over $110 billion in healthcare, medication and lost productivity. The incidence of CHD has been rising paralel to the rise in obesity and diabetes and has reached “pandemic” proportions.

Causes and Risk Factors of Coronary Heart Disease

For the past three decades CHD was blamed solely on “dietery fats” and cholesterol. The plaques that cause CHD were found to be made up of  a form of “bad cholesterol” (LDL) so logically the culprit had to be the bad cholesterol that we consume in our diet. High blood levels of LDL were associated with CHD.

The problem is that; decades of the “low fat” diet craze and cholesterol lowering “statin” drugs did nothing to curb the incidence of CHD. In fact the incidence kept rising.

I must admit that, I too, was on the low fat and statin “bandwagon” until years later when I started to notice that it was not working. The moment of truth came when years ago I reviewed the lab data of the last 300 patients that I had operated on for CHD; More than half of these patients had normal levels of LDL !!! and that didn’t save them from getting CHD !? On the other hand we have seen thousands of people with high cholesterol levels and no evidence of CHD.

Why is LDL being deposited in the arteries of some people and not in others ?

The answer and truth began to surface in the last couple of years when we realized that there are actually two kinds of LDL and the  LDL we get from saturated animal fat is not the kind that is deposited in the arteries, these are large “fluffy” LDL molecules that are unable to settle in the artery walls. On the other hand the LDL molecules that can and will settle in the arteries to cause deposits and plaque are the “small dense LDL molecules”. Guess where these come from!; mostly the liver ! and they are made from sugars, not fat !!! ( Disclaimer : this does not mean we can eat all the animal protein and fat we like. We will get into that subject later ! ) In short; excess sugar is a more important risk factor than fats !

The second important factor in the development of CHD is “Inflammation”. Inflammation is the body's natural response to infection and allergens that cause iritation. Inflamation actualy fights these situations and aids in healing. When inflammation becomes chronic ( Chronic Whole Body Inflammation ) it sets the stage for a myriad of chronic diseases like CHD, Cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. In the case of CHD, inflammation damages the vascular tissues and make them susceptible to atherosclerotic changes.

Causes of Chronic Inflammation
  • Trans fats
  • High sugar consumption and diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Artificial sweeteners, flavours, colorings.
  • Inactivity
In summary; quoting one of the pioneers in the field of preventative medicine; Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn of the Cleveland Clinic “CHD is a food-borne illness and need never to exist”. 
CHD is indeed a nutritional disease which can be avoided by proper nutrition; avoiding the “bad foods” and eating the foods that have the power to stop the disease process in it’s footsteps.
Midlife is a time in which many of the chronic diseases have already established a foundation and are just waiting for the right time to expolde. We have the means and power to reverse back into a healthy life.

In our future articles we will discuss the simple precautions to take in order to prevent and even reverse obesity, diabetes and coronary heart disease.

Take Care,