The Plant Power Diet

The Plant-Power Diet
Source: Mehmet Oz, M.D. and Mike Roizen, M.D.

AIM Fruit and Veggies ImageJuicy tomatoes, sweet peaches, sizzling hot peppers … good summer produce is at its peak, just in time for you to get all the benefits that a plant-based diet offers! And here’s the latest proof that it can help your heart grow younger.

In a headline-grabbing study from the Cleveland Clinic (where Dr. Mike is chief wellness officer; he’s also a coauthor of the study), 198 women and men with heart disease stayed on a produce-packed, plant-based diet for three and a half years. They gave up processed foods, added sugars and salt, meat, poultry – even fish, vegetable oils and caffeine. On their plates: Loads of artery-pampering leafy greens, plus plenty of hearty whole grains, satisfying beans and heaping helpings of fruits and veggies.

It was a huge diet overhaul for the study volunteers, and an impressive 89 per cent stuck with it. The results changed lives. A whopping 94 per cent of those who stayed on the plant-power diet saw symptoms such as chest pain reduced. Just one person from that group suffered a health event related to artery disease (a stroke). In contrast, during the course of the study, 62 per cent of those who didn’t stick with the diet experienced an event, including stroke, artery-clearing or bypass surgery, and heart-related death.

In the plant group, results from heart scans and stress tests found measurable improvements in one in five, leading the researchers to note that “farmstand feasting” can help some people reverse heart disease. (Note: Participants stayed on their heart meds, making changes only as recommended by their doctors.) Volunteers also lost an average of 19 pounds apiece.

Four Ways Produce Helps

The plant-heart connection has been making headlines for other reasons, too. In midsummer, the incoming president of the American College of Cardiology blogged about his decision to become vegan (100 per cent plant-based diet) to combat his own rising cholesterol levels. It was the No. 1 post on the site for a week.

Why does it work? Our friends at the Cleveland Clinic point out four big benefits:

No. 1: Artery protection. Cutting out processed foods, animal proteins and dairy reduces intake of saturated fat and cholesterol, both of which increase artery-damaging LDL cholesterol levels in the bloodstream. Removing them from your diet also protects the endothelial cells that line the walls of your arteries, and helps keep them from releasing compounds that make arteries tighten.

No. 2: Revitalized blood vessels. Eating loads of leafy greens like kale, spinach and collards helps your body produce new copies of the cells that line artery walls. Healthy arteries, in turn, produce loads of nitric oxide, a beneficial compound that keeps your blood vessels relaxed.

No. 3: A better “good bug” mix in your intestines. Cutting out red meat, eggs, dairy and other animal proteins reduces the effects of “bad” bacteria in your digestive system that churn out a compound called TMAO, which creates inflammation that clogs your arteries.

No. 4: Better blood fats and blood sugar. A high-fibre, low-fat, plant-focused eating plan can lower levels of heart-threatening triglycerides (a blood fat) as well as homocysteine (another compound that can raise heart attack risk). It also helps your body absorb blood sugar more easily.

Harnessing Plant Power

To start reaping the delicious benefits of plant-based eating, start with these small yet powerful changes:

  • Nix food felons. Banish foods packed with saturated fat, trans fats, added sweeteners and syrups, and sodium.
  • Get bean-y. Twice a week, replace animal proteins on your plate with hearty three-bean chili, a bowl of white bean and kale soup, or beans and brown rice. Pair beans with whole grains like quinoa, whole-grain pasta, wraps and barley, too.
  • Have leafy greens every day. Salad, a side dish of sautéed kale, collards, spinach or chard, a green smoothie…find new ways to fit in a variety of greens.
  • Start the day with oats and fruit. Oatmeal’s packed with cholesterol clobbering soluble fibre. Top it with berries (and a splash of fat-free milk if you’d like), and you’re good to go.

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is chief wellness officer and chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic.

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Harness The Plant Power Of These Products!

BarleyLife, BarleyLife Xtra, LeafGreens and CoCoa LeafGreens are superior sources of green foods that harness plant-powers. Adding one or more of these products to your daily routine will benefit your health greatly and help keep your systems in balance. Redi-Beets and Red Rush will help boost nitric oxide levels to help revitalize blood vessels.

Here are a few smoothie recipes to get more greens in your life:

Berry Green Smoothie

1 ripe banana
2 handfuls of fresh or frozen berries (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries)
1 cup of orange or apple juice
1-3 teaspoons of BarleyLife, BarleyLife Xtra, or LeafGreens
Combine all ingredients in a blender until frothy. Pour into a tall glass and enjoy!

Berry Smooth

2 cups fresh blueberries
1 cup frozen banana or fresh banana
1 cup frozen strawberries 4 cups tangerine or orange juice or pomegranate juice
2 spoonfuls of BarleyLife, Barley Life Xtra, or LeafGreens
Blend everything in your blender until blended. Enjoy!
You can freeze leftover bananas and strawberries to use later in smoothies.

 Cherry CoCoa LeafGreens Smoothie

8 oz unsweetened almond milk
½ cups frozen cherries
1 tsp AIM Cocoa leaf greens
1 scoop AIM Propeas powder
2-3 ice cubes (optional)
Blend ingredients in a blender and serve

There are many more smoothie recipes available by searching Green Smoothies, or Green Drinks online.  Have fun and enjoy!

Garden Trio Take A Walk

Author: Joanne Jackson, CHN

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