Friday, December 30, 2011

Plant Superstars: Research Round-Up

I love food and spend so much time thinking about how good the meals I cook taste that I sometimes forget how healthy a plant-based diet is. In 2009, the American Dietetic Association, the world's largest group of nutrition experts, published a position paper stating that "appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases....Vegetarian diets are often associated with health advantages including lower blood cholesterol levels, lower risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure levels and lower risk of hypertension and type 2 diabetes. Vegetarians tend to have a lower body mass index and lower overall cancer rates.”

Since then, research continues to show what nutritional superstars plants are. Here are some excerpts from recent issues of health and fitness magazines.

Plant-Based Diets Help Prevent Cancer
From July/August 2011 issue of Women's Health Magazine

"More than 35 percent of all cancer cases could be prevented with lifestyle changes. 'A cancer-protective diet is plant-based, so always fill two-thirds of your plate with fruits, veggies, and whole grains.' Get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day and ask your doctor about your healthy weight range." With a plant-based diet and exercise...
  • 70% of endometrial cancer cases could be prevented.
  • 45% of colorectal cancer cases could be prevented.
  • 38% of breast cancer cases could be prevented. (See next excerpt below for more.)
  • 36% of lung cancer cases could be prevented.
  • 24% of kidney cancer cases could be prevented.

Plant-Based Diets Help Prevent Breast Cancer
From October 2011 issue of Fitness Magazine

"Eating to beat breast cancer is easy. Fill two-thirds of your plate with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans. 'These foods contain nutrients and phytochemicals, which help our bodies fight cancer by, for example, blocking the growth of tumors or repairing DNA that has been damaged.' Research shows that the following six foods may have a particularly potent protective effect against the disease.
  • Leafy green vegetables. Spinach, collard greens, and Swiss chard contain high levels of certain carotenoids, antioxidant-like substances that wipe out harmful free radicals before they can damage healthy cells.
  • Cruciferous vegetables. Compounds in broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, bok choy, and kale may help regulate enzymes in your body that defend against cells that could become cancerous.
  • Berries. Strawberries and raspberries are rich sources of ellagic acid, a phytochemical that helps short-circuit cancer cells' ability to multiply.
  • Mushrooms. Women who ate a third of an ounce of mushrooms daily were 64 percent less likely to develop breast cancer, one study found. The fungi appear to act like aromatase inhibitor meds, which block the body's production of the cancer-feeding hormone estrogen.
  • Parsley. This herb is packed with apigenin, a compound that appears to block the formation of blood vessels to cancerous mammary cells.
  • Whole grains. Brown rice, bulgur, and buckwheat contain lignans, substances that reduce breast cancer risk by as much as 14 percent. " 

Five Surprising Superfoods
From October 2011 issue of Fitness Magazine

"Apples, almonds, broccoli. If you eat the same things every week, you may be missing out on an easy way to boost your health. 'Many of us pass up foods that are nutritional powerhouses, because we don't know how to prepare them.' Bust out of your culinary rut with these five disease fighters.

Bamboo Shoots
  • Why? A great low-calorie, high-fiber veggie packed with antioxidants that help ward off cancer-causing free radicals.
  • How to Enjoy: Find bamboo shoots in the canned-food section of your supermarket. Add to salads, stir-fries, and soups.
Pumpkin Seeds
  • Why? Rich in protein and phytosterols, these little treats have been shown to reduce levels of harmful LDL cholesterol.
  • How to Enjoy: Eat them plain for an afternoon snack or sprinkle some on top of your salad for added crunch.
Swiss Chard
  • Why? This leafy green is loaded with potassium, which helps to balance electrolytes and prevent muscle cramps.
  • How to Enjoy: Simply saute Swiss chard and garlic in olive oil for a delicious side dish.
  • Why? Kiwis have more immune-system-strengthening vitamin C than grapefruits, oranges, or strawberries.
  • How to Enjoy: Switch out your usual berries with kiwis to put on [oatmeal], or toss them in your favorite salad.
  • Why? Beets are rich in folic acid, which has been show to lower levels of homocysteine, an amino acid in blood linked to heart disease.
  • How to Enjoy: Roast beets to bring out their sweetness. Drizzle them with olive oil and place in a 375-degree oven for 30 minutes to an hour. "

No comments:

Post a Comment