1. Five servings of fruit and vegetables each day decreases your risk of dying from a chronic disease, such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, and type 2 diabetes.
2. Plants have vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that have important anti-oxidant properties (oxidative stress affects the structure and function of important biomolecules, such as a fatty acids, DNA, or proteins).
3. Vitamin C is a key anti-oxidant. Foods that are high in vitamin C include bell peppers, guava fruit, leafy green vegetables, kiwi fruit, broccoli, berries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, peas, and papayas.
4. Flavonoids and carotenoids are also powerful anti-oxidants. Foods high in carotenoids include sweet potato, carrots, dark green leafy vegetables, squash, cantaloupe and melons, sweet red and yellow peppers, apricots, peas, and broccoli.
5. Consumption of nuts (full of vitamins, minerals, fibre, and healthy fats) is inversely related to mortality, cancer, heart disease, and respiratory disease.
Key #2: Eat Mostly Plants
When scientists do research and they publish their results it can be hard to interpret unless you’re an expert in the field. What a meta-analysis does is to combine the best studies into one big data set to see what patterns emerge from all the high-quality data in a field. Meta-analyses are fantastic tools for people trying to make sense of all the research in one area.
Dr. Frank Hu's team, at the Departments of Nutrition and Epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, published a meta-analysis that caught my attention. Dr. Hu tried to determine if there is a relationship between the amount of fruits and vegetables that someone eats and mortality (dying) from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
Dr. Hu’s analysis tracked more than 833,000 people and discovered that for each serving of fruits and vegetables that you eat, your risk of dying from a chronic disease decreased. Interestingly, after five servings of fruits and vegetables, the risk did not decrease any more. So if you get five servings every day you’re good to go! The data showed that eating fruits and vegetables helped to prevent cardiovascular disease, and another research team took this a step further and found that vegetables with red, yellow and orange colours – especially carrots – are particularly powerful at reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
The primary benefit of eating a diet based mostly on plants is to increase the amount of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients in your diet. These have anti-oxidant properties that help to keep you healthy. Excessive oxidation in the body can affect the structure and function of important biomolecules, such as a fatty acids, DNA, or proteins. Think of metal rusting. You can also see this if you’ve cut open an apple and left it exposed to air: the pulp turns brown. The scientific term for this process is oxidative stress. Anti-oxidants slow and minimize this process in our bodies.
One of the best best-known anti-oxidants is Vitamin C, but other vitamins such as the vitamin E family act as anti-oxidants. Foods that are high in vitamin C include bell peppers, guava fruit, leafy green vegetables, kiwi fruit, broccoli, berries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, peas, and papayas. Foods high in vitamin E include tofu, spinach, nuts, seeds, avocado, shellfish, cold-water fish, plant oils (like olive oil), broccoli, and squash and pumpkin.
Foods that are high in flavonoids and carotenoids are also powerful anti-oxidants. Foods high in carotenoids include sweet potato, carrots, dark green leafy vegetables, squash, cantaloupe and melons, sweet red and yellow peppers, apricots, peas, and broccoli.
If you do not have a nut allergy, then nuts can also help to prevent chronic disease. They’re full of vitamins, minerals, fibre, and healthy fats. In a study on 70,000 women and 42,500 men conducted by Dr. Ying Bao and colleagues, consumption of nuts was found to be inversely related to mortality, cancer, heart disease, and respiratory disease. Nuts are very high in calories so if you are looking to lose weight then be careful of your overall consumption. When I’m trying to decrease my fat before races I limit my intake to 8-10 nuts per day.
The main message here is that plant based foods are our best defence against oxidative stress in our bodies. Fruits, vegetables, teas, coffee, spices, and herbs are all great sources of anti-oxidants, and all of these have been related to lower risk of most chronic diseases and a lower risk of mortality. Research has shown a clear inverse relationship between increasing your fruit and vegetable intake and lowering your risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, type 2 diabetes, asthma, COPD, dementia, osteoporosis, certain eye diseases, and weight gain. If you want to live a long, healthy life, eat mostly plants.
Interested in eating more plant-based meals? Check out Rich Roll’s cookbook The Plant Powered Way for some terrific recipes. https://www.richroll.com/the-plantpower-way/
Another go-to cookbook in our family is Oh She Glows by Angela Lindon. http://ohsheglows.com/the-book/
Today's POWER-UP: Prepare for eating on the road in advance
1. Stake out nearby grocery stores online ahead of time, so you can have access to good food your body is used to.
2. If that isn’t an option, aim to meal prep as much as you can:
Cooked meat and veggies can be frozen and brought with you for reheating later.
Bags of washed and prepared salad are light weight and easy to throw into your bag with a can of tuna, beans, hardboiled eggs or nuts and seeds as salad toppers.
Wraps can be filled with omelettes, fish, poultry, chicken and vegetables, then broiled until crispy and wrapped individually for easy access on the run.
Plain oatmeal is also a great option as there is always access to hot water!
Check out this video for specific advice on how to pack for a 3-day trip. Stay tuned for Kerrie's recipes in future posts.
The information and advice provided in this program is intended to assist Sky Regional employees with improving their general health. It is not intended and should not be used in place of advice from your own physician or for treatment or diagnosis of any specific health issue. Sky Regional is not responsible for the content of this program which has been specially developed and is being provided to you by the Wells Group Inc., in consultation with Sky Regional. By participating in this program you acknowledge that undertaking any new health, diet and/or exercise regime involves certain inherent risks, that you assume such risks, and that you release Sky Regional and the Wells Group Inc. from any responsibility or claim relating to such participation.