From The Blog

By Sayer Ji • Originally posted on

The future of cardiovascular disease prevention and treatment will not be found in your medicine cabinet, rather in your kitchen cupboard or in your back yard growing on a tree.
Pomegranate Found To Prevent Coronary Artery Disease Progression
A new study published in the journal Atherosclerosis confirms that  extract may prevent and/or reverse the primary pathology associated with cardiac mortality: the progressive thickening of the coronary arteries caused by the accumulation of fatty materials known as atherosclerosis.[i] Mice with a genetic susceptibility towards spontaneous coronary artery blockages were given pomegranate extract via their drinking water for two weeks, beginning at three weeks of age. Despite the fact that pomegranate treatment actually increased cholesterol levels associated with very low density lipoprotein-sized particles, the treatment both reduced the size of the atherosclerotic plaques in the aortic sinus (the dilated opening above the aortic valve) and reduced the proportion of coronary arteries with occlusive atherosclerotic plaques. Remarkably, the researchers also found that pomegranate extract treatment resulted in the following beneficial effects:

  • Reduced levels of oxidative stress
  • Reduced monocytie chemotactic protein-1, a chemical messenger (chemokine) associated with inflammatory processes within the arteries.
  • Reduced lipid accumulation in the heart muscle
  • Reduced macrophage infiltration in the heart muscle
  • Reduced levels of monocyte chemotactic protein-1 and fibrosis in the myocardium
  • Reduced cardiac enlargement
  • Reduced ECG abnormalities

Herbs can help you create delicious meals you’ll love to eat. But many people don’t know how to use them.

If you think your meals are lacking in flavor or excitement — or even if you enjoy your foods but simply want to spice things up a bit — adding the right herbs while cooking will improve the taste, smell, and appearance of your food.

Another good thing about herbs is how nutritious they are.

Herbs are high in vitamins and minerals and have more antioxidants than most fruits and vegetables. Herbs also feed the health-promoting bacteria in your gut and nurture the optimal kinds of bacteria throughout your microbiome.

Plus, you can usually find them fresh or dried for affordable prices at the grocery store or farmers market. And now is a great time to plant herbs outside or start your own kitchen garden.

If you’re new to the world of herbs, or just want to expand your horizons, the infographic below shows 10 staple herbs you need, along with complimentary ingredients and recipe ideas.

Following a plant-based diet will benefit the planet and future generations

By David L. Katz • Originally published on US News & World Report

No, this is not about noshing on plate scraps. Nor is it about “kid food,” per se. I have written about that before. For that matter, my son has weighed in on that topic, addressing it both to you and directly to his peers, your kids. He has done so more than once, growing from a boy to a young man in the process, with his subject matter – food – the one and only construction material. It’s our own mini-version of “Boyhood.”

But, as noted, that is not today’s topic. Today’s topic is sustainability in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee issued what I consider to be a truly stellar, 572-page report. We are now in a period of cogitation, consideration and commentary during which everyone with skin in the game gets to tell the U.S. Department of Agriculture why they should embrace or renounce specific elements in the report.

In a departure from prior committee reports, this one addresses the sustainability of our diets. Because this is a new topic, there is some feeble basis to say maybe it doesn’t belong here. But feeble it is; of course it belongs here.

The reason to address sustainability now, and not before now, is because now we know it is an issue. Dietary guidelines were inattentive to trans fat, too, until we first invented it, and then learned it was toxic. Once you know that dietary patterns will influence whether or not there is enough food and water to go around, ignoring that issue while generating “dietary guidelines” would be like offering tips for safe swimming at the beach that fail to mention the notorious riptides, or the unusual number of hungry sharks nearby.

So, really, it’s hard to see how this can be legitimately controversial for anyone who plans to live, and eat, on this planet for the foreseeable future. But it is, just the same – and for the inevitable reason. Money.

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While probiotics receive more attention, key fibers remain the workhorses in maintaining a healthy gut microbiome

By Katherin Harmon Courage • From Scientific American

KEYSTONE, Colo.—Your gut is the site of constant turf wars. Hundreds of bacterial species—along with fungi, archaea and viruses—do battle daily, competing for resources. Some companies advocate for consuming more probiotics, live beneficial bacteria, to improve microbial communities in our gut, but more and more research supports the idea that the most powerful approach might be to better feed the good bacteria we already harbor. Their meal of choice? Fiber.

Fiber has long been linked to better health, but new research shows how the gut microbiota might play a role in this pattern. One investigation discovered that adding more fiber to the diet can trigger a shift from a microbial profile linked to obesity to one correlated with a leaner physique. Another recent study shows that when microbes are starved of fiber, they can start to feed on the protective mucus lining of the gut, possibly triggering inflammation and disease.

“Diet is one of the most powerful tools we have for changing the microbiota,” Justin Sonnenburg, a biologist at Stanford University, said earlier this month at a Keystone Symposia conference on the gut microbiome. “Dietary fiber and diversity of the microbiota complement each other for better health outcomes.” In particular, beneficial microbes feast on fermentable fibers—which can come from various vegetables, whole grains and other foods—that resist digestion by human-made enzymes as they travel down the digestive tract. These fibers arrive in the large intestine relatively intact, ready to be devoured by our microbial multitudes. Microbes can extract the fiber’s extra energy, nutrients, vitamins and other compounds for us. Short-chain fatty acids obtained from fiber are of particular interest, as they have been linked to improved immune function, decreased inflammation and protection against obesity.

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