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WHOLE FOOD FACTS

Updated 7/24/2013   


         Dr. Bernard Presser D.C.

5696 Magnolia Woods Drive

Memphis, TN 38134



 

If you have any questions, please contact us at 901-417-7905

 More articles coming soon.

 


Foods nourish.  And foods heal.  Healing properties of foods continue to be discovered.  Yet most scientists hold to a drug model:  If foods are good for you, then we must discover the compound or molecule in each food that "works."  A tiny portion is separated from the food, often copied synthetically, and used to repress a symptom.  Is it forgotten that Nature's products are never the sum of their parts?  Studies persistently show that real whole Foods "work", but disconnected or manufactured portions do not "work" or merely "work" as weak drugs.  Drugs deal only with symptoms by stimulating or suppressing a segment of metabolism or a biochemical process.  They basically mask symptoms rather than address the cause.  They do not feed the body or aid health in any way.

Scientists (usually in the pay of drug companies) claim there is no difference between separated, manufactured nutrients and natural food complexes, that the body does not know the difference.  If you took a stalk of broccoli or a leaf of spinach and brought it to a laboratory, the stalk or leaf could be analyzed and you would be given an extensive list of component elements.  Some elements could be imitated in the laboratory and you would come away with a few chemical compounds.  But you would not come away with a stalk of broccoli or a leaf of spinach.  You can't reassemble the vegetable from all its "identical" components or elements.  You would not even have a complete list of all its components.

Real Nature-produced foods consist of hundreds of complicated, balanced ecological systems.  Technology can identify some parts, but it cannot tell us the exact mechanisms by which all the intricate, interrelated systems come about or the exact delicate, complex structures that make them possible.  Science can tell us some sizes, shapes and numbers, but the questions remain: What are we missing?  How does it all function together?  And most important, will it generate health?

Each time a "new" nutrient is discovered by chemists in food and found to be valuable to health, it means this component has not yet been separated or imitated; therefore it's not in most supplements.  Unless a person is eating plenty of real whole foods or supplementing with food concentrates, he/she comes up short, is missing many nutrients available only in whole organic foods (many not yet discovered) and is missing the synergy.  Scientists, with ever improving technology, are discovering whole classes of nutrients that were not detected before or had been ignored as unimportant and later found to be precious.  The recognized value of any "new" nutrient is limited by available technology and the increased understanding of human biochemistry.  Nature is much smarter than technology and not as limited as modern science.

Studies consistently show that whole foods help prevent or improve chronic degenerative diseases like, for example, cardiovascular disease.  For every daily-serving increase of vegetables or fruits, there is about a 4% drop in cardiovascular disease.  Increased consumption of vegetables and fruit lowers the risk of stroke among many other diseases.  But separated nutritional parts in supplements do not appear to "work".  D-alpha tocopherol - so-called "vitamin E" - was shown not to work the way it was expected to, the way it works in foods.  It even appeared to increase some forms of cardiovascular disease.  Was this due to poor data analysis?  Or was it the use of one isolated chemical compound that excluded all other parts that naturally occur with d-alpha tocopherol as vitamin E complex, parts like gamma tocopherol, tocotrienols, selenium, essential fatty acids, and other components "discovered" to be valuable and symbiotic?  Balance was also lost.  One separated compound can create a nutritional imbalance, which is much worse than a nutritional deficiency.  Synthetic beta-carotene seemed to increase lung-cancer risk in smokers.  Was it because the single manufactured compound was missing all of its interacting synergistic components such as lycopene, alpha-carotene, lutein, beta-cryptoxanthin, other carotenoids, and all the other nutrients that appear with beta-carotene in real foods?

So-called "scientists" tell us that foods from Nature contain toxins (often to downplay concern over pesticides in foods).  True enough, in the laboratory toxins can be found in natural foods.  What these so-called "scientists" do not tell us is that the necessary biochemical components and cofactors to counterbalance, detoxify and excrete these toxins are also contained in the whole food package.  Neither are we told that these so-called "toxins" often serve a useful purpose.  Recent studies show that some so-called food toxins aren't so toxic after all.  For instance, oxalic acid in some leafy-green vegetables like beet greens, chard, kale, collards, and spinach doesn't really seem to lower calcium or iron levels as so-called "scientists" thought.  Many factors influence absorption of nutrients, including the presence of other nutrients.  Foods high in oxalates are usually high in iron and calcium.  So even if some of the mineral is "bound" by oxalates, enough is still absorbed.  Also, oxalic acid in greens that are over-cooked readily combines with calcium and iron.  But in raw or lightly-cooked greens, with enzymes like oxalase intact, it will not bind up minerals.  It turns out that oxalic acid helps to tone and stimulate peristalsis or movement of the digestive tract, and so serves an important function.  When such compounds are separated from whole foods, they can and do disrupt.  When they remain in whole food packages, they balance with other components and may even be healthful.  So much for "scientific" assumptions.

We should be learning that humans cannot do better at what Nature can do.  When one part is upset, it leads to disruption of all the others.  We should also be learning that, as a species, we have generally lost contact with Nature, with innate instincts for our food needs.  We often eat items which are not useful nutritionally - nonfoods such as white bread, sweets, and soft drinks.  Some animals recognize when foods are deficient in indispensable amino acids, and will reject such offerings within minutes.  Humans, it turns out, have the same sensitivity in their brains.  Human history has shown that selection of high-quality foods played an important health role.  But now we opt for French fries and hot dogs!  Our bodies need and crave foods dense in nutrients and all their other synergistic ingredients both known and unknown.  Our appetites may conform to current cultural, technological, and economic patterns, but our bodies know better.  Our feedback instincts may be dulled, yet symptoms try to tell us something.  A disease might be thought of as evidence of a breakdown of the ecological balance within the body - that the body is not being fed properly.

Consider the betaine in foods like spinach, beets, whole wheat, whole sugar cane, and seafood.  Betaine protects cells, proteins, and enzymes from environmental stress.  A deficiency of methyl donors like betaine can disturb liver metabolism, resulting in elevated homocysteine, decreased S-adenosylmethionine (SAM), and inadequate fat processing (leading to fatty accumulation, disturbed blood fat and cholesterol levels).  Messing up liver metabolism can contribute to various diseases from cardiovascular and liver problems to dementia and kidney damage.  Betaine can lower fatigue, increase general strength and endurance.  Isolated betaine helps a slight bit or not at all.  It is best obtained from whole foods.  You may not think of betaine as a nutrient; you may not know why it's vital or what it does.  But it's in your food, working with all its synergistic associates.

What's the important part in garlic?  Some scientists say it's the allicin content.  Yet when allicin is extracted, even from a natural source, it is no longer natural.  Allicin or any other single food component never occurs in Nature.  There is no plant in the wild that is just allicin.  Taking allicin by itself in large amounts does not produce the same results as taking food containing allicin.  Food or herb parts never yield the superior results of the whole package.  Hypericin is the assumed active ingredient in St. John's Wort, but there is little or no benefit in treating depression when used alone.  The whole herb is found to be very helpful.

Colors or pigments in foods can indicate the presence of nutrients like flavonoids including carotenoids (like beta-carotene) and anthocyanins.  These compounds are antioxidants but have many other nutritional benefits.  Flavonoids benefit immune responses, inflammatory processes, blood sugar metabolism, and blood vessel integrity, among other things.  They may facilitate signaling between cells and silence potential disease-fostering changes.  Orange and red carotene colors may help reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and more.  Blue or purple foods contain plenty of anthocyanin which may aid in preventing obesity, mental decline, and other ills.  Dark green leafy veggies and other colorful fruits and vegetables have been linked with lowered cardiovascular and cancer risks.  For example, heavily pigmented potatoes (yellow, red, and purple varieties) have more flavor, more nutrients, and greater potential health benefits than white potatoes do.

Apples and other foods high in fiber may be as good for your lungs as they are for the rest of you.  Research suggests that people who eat high-fiber foods are less likely to have trouble breathing or to develop a chronic cough.  Fiber lowers blood-sugar levels, boosts the power of antioxidants, reduces the need for inflammation, and keeps the digestive system in working order. Nutrients - vitamin C complex, carotenes, selenium, and others - ingested in whole foods (not in pills of isolated parts) can help asthma.  "There are nutrients in fruits and vegetables that we don't know how to extract and put into supplements.  You need the whole food."  You also need foods that are unrefined, unadulterated, uncorrupted.  "Read labels and start avoiding foods whose ingredients sound like chemical weapons."  There are complex interactions of bioactive compounds in real whole foods.  Mess that up and you mess up your body.  Avoid weapons of mess destruction!

Researchers in Denmark subjected people either to several weeks of a multi-vitamin/mineral pill (of separated chemical compounds) or several weeks of a diet with plenty (21 ounces) of fruits and vegetables a day.  After almost a month everyone's blood had reduced levels of chemical markers for oxidation of fats (lipids).  Lower lipid oxidation is believed to hinder atherosclerosis.  The difference between the two groups was that the slowdown in lipid oxidation was greater among the fruit and vegetable eaters.  And they had other indications of greater protection against oxidative damage.  Ain't nothin' like the real thing!  Fish is good for you and broccoli is good for you.  Fish with broccoli must be twice as good, right?  Actually, together - just looking at the selenium in fish and the phytochemical sulforaphane in broccoli - they are up to 13 times more effective than either nutrient alone.  This is food synergy: food components working in concert to produce a symphony of health benefits.  Because more examples of this type of cooperation between food factors have been identified, the focus in nutrition research is shifting.  The old way was to look for one variable, but now scientists are looking at dietary patterns.  Vitamin C complex increases proper absorption of iron, giving food combinations like red peppers with quinoa or steak and potatoes a new power image.  Inulin, a type of carbohydrate found in bananas and other foods, provides nourishment for beneficial bacteria such as yogurt's Bifidus, which aids digestion and boosts immune function.  Innumerable synergies have yet to be discovered.  "You don't find a single nutrient in a single food; foods come as packages of nutrients, and the nutrients we know about don't tell the whole story."

Real foods contain thousands of different molecules and compounds, only some of which have been recognized as necessary nutrients.  Many food components have functions other than nutritional.  Many have not been classified.  Many more have not yet been discovered.  How could we have a notion that some isolated chemical ‘nutrients' can substitute for whole food packages?  What makes foods "whole"?  Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition and public health, describes them as "un- or minimally processed."  They are the most natural version of foods, as un-tampered-with as possible.  Whole food is the "ultimate complex mixture."  All the individual ingredients in foods interact at the molecular or nanometer scale.  We don't see them, but the interactions are there.  And our bodies know it.  The foods we choose don't just go toward fueling our bodies.  They are the very stuff of which our bodies are made.  Let's look at a few vegetables and fruits. i

MOM WAS RIGHT: EAT YOUR VEGETABLES...

There are thousands of nutrients and other beneficial ingredients in vegetables.  In one study, for two weeks volunteers were given two cups of gazpacho - a pureed mix of tomatoes, cucumbers, green bell peppers, onions, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, and a bit of salt - served as a cold soup.  The level of vitamin C complex in their blood increased significantly, while indicators of inflammation and oxidative stress decreased significantly after just one week.  Gazpacho bursts with vitamin C (about 60% of the daily value in one cup) as well as a host of other nutrients including carotenoids and folate.  "It is possible that other nutrients present in the soup may have synergistically contributed to these effects," says the research leader.  Synergy is what food is about.  Several studies have shown a connection between consumption of vegetables and fruits and body weight.  People who eat plenty of produce have lower weights, whereas those who consume only a little produce have higher weights.  In a study that boosted participants' intake of fruits and vegetables by four servings a day, there was a 24% lower risk of obesity than for those who cut their fruits and veggies by two servings a day.

Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, collards, watercress, mustard greens, turnips, cauliflower) contain indoles, isothiocyantes, glucosinolates and other compounds that may provide some protection against various cancers.  They (especially the dark-green ones) are rich in minerals such as calcium and magnesium, folate, and many other nutrients.  One cup of chopped broccoli supplies the daily requirement of vitamin C complex in addition to various carotenoids, niacinamide, calcium, thiamin, vitamin E complex, and lots of fiber.  Women over 60 who ate 5 servings each week of cruciferous vegetables tested a full one to two years younger in memory and mental sharpness than women who ate just two servings a week.  These veggies have been credited with helping to prevent high blood pressure, heart disease, and strokes.  Broccoli, kale, swiss chard, and collards appear to help fend off both macular degeneration and cataracts.  Their phytonutrients can promote detoxification.  To preserve nutrients, don't overcook them.  Steaming broccoli preserves about 90% of its phytochemicals versus 19% for boiling and 3% for microwaving.

Reared on iceberg lettuce, many Americans don't know how nutritious and delicious greens can be.  Apart from traditional nutrients like B vitamins, vitamin C complex, bioflavonoids, potassium, and calcium - there are numerous phytochemicals in greens.  These substances protect your eyes, improve your skin, balance your cholesterol and blood pressure, raise the odds for keeping your mental edge, and help stave off cancer, among other benefits.  Kale is a nutritional superstar, loaded with calcium, potassium, indoles (believed to be cancer-fighting), beta-carotene, other carotenoids, and other antioxidants.  One cup of wilted collard greens provides over 9,000 micrograms (mcg) of beta-carotene and 266 milligrams (mg) of calcium.  Spinach contains high levels of quercetin (balances cholesterol) and lutein (12,198 mcg in 4 cups packed raw or 1/3 cup cooked) which fortifies retinal cells, protects the prostate, blocks communication signals to cancer cells, and may help prevent heart disease and stroke.  

Spinach is rich in carotenes, folate (194 mcg), vitamin E complex, calcium (99 mg), magnesium, and iron, to say nothing of its abundant potassium and vitamin K complex. A 1-cup serving of savoy cabbage contains a generous helping of folate (about 67 mcg), and nearly double the amount of fiber (4 grams) found in other types of cabbage.  The same sulfurous compounds in other cabbages are present, which may foil the replication of cancer cells.  Watercress offers 960 mcg beta-carotene per cup, copious amounts of calcium, carotenes like lutein, and traces of omega-3 fatty acids.  Watercress has a high amount of PEITC (phenylethylisothiocyanate) which appears to block cancer-causing chemicals, perhaps even protecting the lungs of smokers from carcinogens associated with tobacco.  Lettuce - when the plant is in the flowering stage - can assist insomnia, so has calming properties.  It also has a diuretic effect which can help lower blood sugar levels, and a carminative effect (it relieves flatulence and that full feeling you get when you eat too much).  Some women find that lettuce decoctions (to extract flavor by boiling) help relieve menstrual cramps.  Cilantro contains a compound called dodecenal that is quite potent against food-borne illnesses - with twice the effectiveness of commonly used antibiotics.

"Green vegetables are the food most missing from modern diets.  They strengthen blood and immune systems, prevent cancer and fight depression naturally."  Greens can increase mental clarity and sustain energy.  Some are great raw, others may be served cooked; but cook them quickly to help preserve nutrients.  Purslane, often considered a pesky weed, boasts the richest known green vegetable cache of ALA, an omega-3 fatty acid.  Omega-3s are vital to immune mechanisms, the cardiovascular system, nervous system, and other areas.  Unlike other plant sources of omega-3s, purslane contains some EPA, the preformed type found in many fish, as well as vitamin complexes A, C, and E.  Asparagus may help reduce exposure to pesticide residues on produce.  One study showed that a 1% solution of asparagus and water degraded the insecticide malathion to nondetectable levels in as little as 20 minutes.  Malathion is used on everything from alfalfa to walnuts.  Eating 3½ ounces of asparagus delivers about a 1% solution.  Because the "insecticide-fighting" ingredient is an enzyme, the heat of cooking deactivates it.  Nutritionally, asparagus is rich in folate, iron, carotenoids, and vitamin C complex.

Onions may help prevent osteoporosis.  In animal studies, they help decrease bone loss by preventing the loss of bone minerals.  Onions with the boldest taste contain the highest antioxidant activity, and appear to be the most effective in inhibiting the growth of cancers such as colon and liver cancer.  Shallots and strong onions boast the most powerful antioxidant profile while more mild varieties lag far behind in potency.  Beets are a good source of betaine and help keep bile the right consistency, aiding liver detoxification.  Betalain, an antioxidant in beets, stimulates the production of enzymes that slow some risks of aging, including cancer and cardiovascular disease.  Turnips contain the same sulfurous components of other cruciferous vegetables along with vitamin C complex; the greens are especially nutritious, with plenty of carotenes and vitamin C complex as well as riboflavin, calcium, and iron.  Rutabagas are the best source of vitamin C complex of all root vegetables.  Parsnips, a relative of the carrot, provide vitamin C complex, folate, and potassium.  Carrots are one of the best sources of beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A complex.  Levels of carotenes and other antioxidants are higher when the carrots are NOT peeled.  Carrots offer some lutein, vitamin C complex, potassium, and are a storehouse of fiber and a source of the trace mineral silicon which helps strengthen connective tissues and aids calcium metabolism.

Raw potatoes are a valuable source of vitamin C complex and protein.  Even when cooked, they are a beneficial source of potassium (407 mg in 2/3 cup diced or ¼ large baked) and niacinamide (1.07 mg).  They are also a decent source of magnesium (21 mg).   Potatoes contain kukoamines, chemicals that may reduce blood pressure.  But these powers are depleted by baking and frying.  Beneath the thick skin of winter squash is a bevy of nutrients such as magnesium, calcium, folate, carotenes, B vitamins, vitamin C complex, and various antioxidants.  These high-fiber vegetables are packed with potassium too, which can lower high blood pressure.  Butternut squash is loaded with beta carotene; a cup has more than 100% of the RDA for vitamin A complex for women.  A 1-cup serving of acorn squash has 19% of the daily recommended amount of potassium, and is rich in B and C vitamin complexes.  A cup of kobocha squash gives 20% of the daily value of vitamin C complex.  Sweet potatoes are queen supreme for beta-carotene and other carotenoids; they also offer plenty of magnesium and potassium.  Zucchini gets a rave for its lutein content and its good amount of potassium.

Increased tomato consumption has been linked to reduced risk for cardiovascular disease, prostate cancer, and a variety of other cancers including lung and stomach.  Tomatoes contain many bioactive components, including vitamin C complex (a medium-sized tomato contains half the daily value), vitamin E complex, polyphenols, many carotenoids (including lutein), and soluble fiber.  Lycopene, the main carotenoid in tomatoes, is assumed to be responsible for its positive health effects, though how it does so elude scientists.  The interactions and metabolic products of its many bioactive compounds "warrant further investigation."  Again, each part plays a part and separating them ends the play.  Some research suggests that tomatoes might inhibit the formation of tissue-damaging compounds.  The rutin content may be involved, "but other factors may have contributed as well."  The jelly surrounding the seeds contains lycopene and is rich in micronutrients.  So why do cookbooks still tell us to seed tomatoes before using them in recipes?  Serve the whole tomato, seeds and all!

The latest update to the above discussion can be found in PLCO News, Volume 17, Issue 1, Winter, 2008 as quoted from the May 2007 issue of Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention.

"For a number of years, researchers hypothesized that eating tomatoes could reduce risk of prostate cancer.  The reason: lycopene, an anti-oxidant found in tomatoes.  But PLCO data say something else.  Using blood samples and dietary questions from over 28,000 PLCO men, Ulrike Peters, Ph.D., M.P.H. of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, found no reduction in prostate cancer risk for men who had the highest levels of lycopene in their blood as compared with those who had the lowest level.  Of her findings, Dr. Peters says: ‘It is disappointing, since lycopene might have offered a simple and inexpensive way to lower prostate cancer risk for men concerned about this common disease.  Unfortunately, this easy answer just does not work.'"  Once again, we still see medical/drug researchers trying to get food results from synthetic, isolated "supplements".

We often hear about the benefit of mushrooms to the immune system and cancer risk.  But did you know that mushrooms have a hefty amount of the B vitamins niacinamide (3.85 mg in 1½ cups chopped or ½ cup cooked, about 8 button mushrooms) and riboflavin (0.4 mg), which help cells turn food into energy?  They provide about 314 mg of potassium, and are among the highest veggie sources of selenium (9 mcg), a "free-radical fighter."   Mushrooms even contain vitamin D complex (76 IU)! Common mushrooms contain fibers (chitin, beta-glutan) that are good for the cardiovascular system.  And they may be the top source of the antioxidant ergothioneine, containing 12 times as much as in wheat germ and 4 times as much as in chicken liver. ii

...AND YOUR FRUITS

The more fruit a teenage girl eats, the stronger her bones become.  In a study on bone density, the girls who ate the most fruit had higher bone-mineral densities, an indicator of bone strength.

It is a berry good idea to eat berries when they are available.  Anthocyanins - antioxidants that give berries their red, blue, and black colors - might help delay the aging process, protect the heart and circulatory system, and prevent mental decline.  The darker the berry, the higher its concentration of antioxidants.  Wait a second... other compounds in berries may also help prevent heart attacks and chronic inflammation such as pterostilbene and salicylic acid.  Concentrated in the seeds are a number of polyphenols such as ellagic acid which have cancer-preventive effects.  So eat the whole berry.  Fresh berries are higher in vitamin complexes A and C than frozen or canned.  Cooking degrades anthocyanins, flavonol, and other flavonoids.  Flavonoids support the strength and integrity of blood vessels and immune mechanisms; they slow and sometimes reverse deficits in brain function, motor performance, learning and memory in old animals.  Berries may help prevent or reduce the incidence of urinary tract infections, reduce cholesterol levels, and inhibit oxidation of LDL (so-called "bad cholesterol").

The pterostilbene (TAIR-oh-STILL-bean) in grapes and blueberries helps fat processing and regulation of fats in the blood.  Its ability is superior to resveratrol (an "anti-aging" compound also found in grapes) and the drug ciprofibrate.  Pterostilbene may be a cancer-preventive agent, may help protect the heart and blood vessels, and may aid to fend off diabetes.  It lowered glucose levels in animals with high blood sugar by 42%.  If applicable to humans, this makes it as effective as some popular diabetes drugs (without the toxicity problems).  Pterostilbene is found in darker grapes, but does not survive the winemaking process.  Among all common fruits and vegetables, berries have the highest antioxidant concentration, especially those with dark-colored skins.

Fresh cherries rival grapes, red wine, and blueberries when it comes to anthocyanins.  Cherries are full of vitamin C complex, calcium, potassium, and fiber.  Some studies indicate that cherries may lower heart attack and stroke risk, and help relieve arthritis pain.  They may also increase insulin levels, thus aiding type 2 diabetes, but research is only preliminary.  According to various reports, cherries may help relieve the pain of gout, prevent premature aging, prevent cancer, prevent migraines, and aid sleep.  Flavonoids, ellagic acid, perillyl alcohol, and numerous other components are considered "anti-cancer" chemicals.

Cranberries, another fruit rich in anthocyanidins, help about 50% of people to prevent or soothe urinary tract infection or inflammation.  They may prevent some ulcers.  These ruby jewels have more antioxidants than almost any other fruit, and seem to offer protection against heart disease, cancer, and effects of aging.  They may reduce damage to brain cells from a stroke.  Among their organic constituents are antroxyanins, vitamin C complex, flavonoids, catechin, triterpinoids, B-hydroxybutyric acid, citric, ellagic, glucuronic, benzoic, quinic, and malic acids.  Traditionally cranberries have been used to decrease the recurrence of urinary stones, as a urinary deodorant, and for relief of various stomach ailments, vomiting, appetite loss, scurvy, blood disorders, liver problems, and cancer.  A serving has 5 times the amount of antioxidants in broccoli.  Cranberries are a natural probiotic, enhancing levels of good bacteria in the intestines, protecting from foodborne illnesses.  The cranberry supplements most likely to be effective are made of powdered WHOLE cranberries rather than an extract.

Apples may help prevent breast cancer due to their high levels of phytochemicals including flavonoids such as quercetins, myricetin, kaempferol, and catechins.  Eating apples is linked with reduced risks of heart disease, stroke, asthma, type 2 diabetes, and various cancers including liver and lung cancer.  Apples aid respiratory health and weight loss.  The peel contains more nutrition than the flesh, including 6 times the antioxidants.  Compared with other fruits, apples rank among the highest in phenolics, many of which cannot be extracted from the fruit.  ONE apple has the antioxidant effect equivalent to 1500 mg of ascorbic acid (so-called "vitamin C").  Really, "consuming whole foods like fruits and vegetables is more beneficial in decreasing risk of cancer, heart disease, cataracts, diabetes and other chronic diseases than consuming expensive dietary supplements [of isolated chemicals], possibly because of the additive and synergistic effects of their plant chemical content."

Pomegranate juice appears to reduce damage to and plaquing of artery walls.  It reduces blood pressure by 5% in people with hypertension.  It may lower LDL cholesterol oxidation.  It increases production of nitric oxide by 50%, which relaxes blood vessels, allowing blood to flow more freely.  It lowers risk for cancer.  No surprise that a red fruit offers beneficial phytochemicals like flavonoids and phenolic acids.  Pomegranates are rich in potent polyphenols, more than green tea, grape juice, or orange juice.  A whole pomegranate provides a day's worth of vitamin C complex as well as some iron and calcium.  It contains a rare fatty acid, punicic acid, which is structurally similar to conjugated linolenic acid.  Pomegranate juice allows aging mice to do better in mazes and other tests of learning than animals receiving sugar-water.  The brains of mice getting pomegranate juice had only about 50% as many beta-amyloid deposits, or plaques, as the sugar-water group.  Beta-amyloid deposits are found in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease, so pomegranate may slow its progression.  A clinical trial of people with severe carotid artery stenosis (a narrowing or blockage of blood flow) suggested that regular consumption of pomegranate juice is beneficial.  Pomegranates may help prevent and treat breast and prostate cancer as well as diabetes.  They may also support joint health.  Dozens of compounds contribute to their healing powers.

Watermelon averages 40% MORE of the "cancer fighter" lycopene per serving than tomatoes.  The lycopene in watermelons is bioavailable without cooking, unlike tomatoes, and is relatively stable when the fruit is stored and refrigerated.  A 1-cup serving of watermelon provides 10% of the daily value for vitamin A complex, 12% for vitamin C complex, along with B vitamins like thiamin and B6, and potassium.  Watermelon contains the amino acids arginine and citrulline which benefit many areas including the cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems.  "Watermelon - it's good fruit.  You eat, you drink, you wash your face."  (Enrico Caruso, Italian tenor)  A papaya contains 250% of the RDA for vitamin C complex.  It's a wonderful source of beta-carotene, other carotenoids, and vitamin E complex.  It may reduce the need for inflammation and lessens the effects of asthma. One of the top sources of vitamin B6, bananas, may assist in reducing fatigue, depression, stress, and insomnia.  They are high in magnesium which helps keep bones strong and the heart pumping, as well as potassium which helps prevent heart disease and high blood pressure.  The kiwi is another fruity gold mine.  Studies indicate it helps to lower blood triglycerides (fats linked to heart disease and diabetes) and reduce platelet clumping.  It also has laxative properties.  Some people experience lip irritation after consumption, so introduce this fruit to your diet slowly.  An enzyme in kiwi, actinidin, will tenderize a tough cut of meat, so it evidently assists protein digestion.

Figs are a terrific source of energy and vitality, which may explain the aphrodisiac and fertility-boosting powers they've been traditionally thought to possess.  They contain more mineral matter and alkalinity than most fruits and are one of the highest sources of calcium among plants.  A quarter-cup of dried figs has about 60 mgs of calcium, nearly twice as much as the same amount of low-fat cottage cheese, which has 35 mgs.  Both dried and fresh figs are impressive sources of both soluble and insoluble fiber, important to cardiovascular and digestive health and for toxin removal.  Figs contain abundant antioxidants.  One fig contains more polyphenols than a cup of green tea.  Figs even contain some omega-3 fatty acids.  This fruit is often recommended to help lower blood cholesterol and blood pressure, though its therapeutic uses go far beyond this.

Preliminary research indicates that raisins might help fight cavities and gum disease, slowing the growth of bacteria blamed for tooth decay.  Studies show that dried fruits, especially dates, plums (prunes), and raisins have high phenolic components that are GREATER antioxidants than those in some fresh fruits.  Antioxidant strength may account for the effect of dates overcoming the negative effects of consuming a high-fructose corn syrup carbonated soft drink like Spritetm for 4 hours after its ingestion.  Dried fruits are high in fiber, potassium, and other nutrients.  About 5 dried apricots provide 36% of the daily value for vitamin A complex.  A cup of dried plums (aka prunes) contains more iron than a cup of cooked chicken; they are packed with compounds that may slow the progression of heart disease.  Tart dried cherries are rich in inflammation-moderating properties; high in melatonin, they may be a sleep-cycle regulator.  Dried fruits lose some of their vitamin C complex content in the drying process.  Get organic dried fruits without added sugars or sulfur dioxide. iii

"Before eating, always take a little time to thank the food." - Arapaho Indian proverb

This website has excellent nutritional protocols for your improved health which are available in conjunction with the Symptom Survey.   Take the Symptom Survey to discover specifically what nutrition you need for your individual health problems.  I want to emphasize that the whole-food nutrition I recommend CANNOT be purchased in any retail store: so-called "health food" store, drug store, super market, etc.  The whole-food nutrition I recommend will help rebuild your body and help restore your health.  Those other products will only give you a pharmaceutical (drug) effect.  They will attempt to deal with your symptoms, which is the ONLY thing any drug can do, while leaving the state of your health unchanged.

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Originally published as an issue of Nutrition News and Views, reproduced with permission by the author, Judith A. DeCava, CNC, LNC.