Believe it: Three simple, cost-effective changes can help prevent and reverse heart disease, and reduce the risk and progression of cancer. The facts will have you overhauling your kitchen, your eating habits and your bill of health.
The groundbreaking book, The China Study, authored by Dr. T. Colin Campbell, reveals what can be described as a startling, yet wholly intuitive, relationship between nutrition and disease. Dr. Campbell found that a whole-foods, plant-based diet can not only lower your risk for certain diseases, it can reverse their progression.
The 20-year China Study allowed Campbell to test and compare laboratory findings against a participating human population. Across China, over 100 villages participated – and the findings were consistent: a high consumption of animal-based foods is associated with more chronic disease, while those eating primarily a plant-based diet were the healthiest.
The key of this nutritional dietary overhaul: avoiding meat, dairy and processed foods.
Animal protein, including fish, delivers a heavy dose of saturated fat and cholesterol, which can put you at risk for heart disease. Saturated fats raise your cholesterol and, over time, attack arteries leading to strokes and heart attacks. As a source of omega-3 fatty acids, fish has long been touted as one of the staples of a healthy diet, however 15-30% of fish is saturated fat.
Instead, get protein from beans, like pinto beans, black beans and kidney beans. Beans also contain soluble fiber that helps lower cholesterol. Click here for recipe ideas featuring the cholesterol-fighting power of beans.
Whole grains, such as quinoa, amaranth and millet are also good sources of protein. Nuts, including walnuts, pistachios and almonds are all high in protein.
You can also get protein from vegetables. For instance, broccoli is 30% protein in addition to containing highly absorbable calcium.
Dairyless Calcium, Potassium and Vitamin D
It may surprise you, but meat isn’t the highest source of bad fat. That title goes to dairy. Additionally, casein, a protein found in milk, has been linked to the growth rate of cancer. Give up dairy without depleting your supplies of calcium, potassium and vitamin D.
Boost your diet with leafy green vegetables, like collards, Brussels sprouts, kale and broccoli, for calcium, and fruit, like oranges, for potassium.
Sunlight is the natural and best source of vitamin D. The vitamin D found in milk is artificially added – you’ll notice that products will boast of being “vitamin D fortified.” Soy, almond, rice and oat milk can also be fortified with vitamin D, and they are lower in saturated fat than dairy milk.
The Ultimate Diet Don’t: Processed Foods
Processed foods are stripped of nutrients and injected with sugar, salt and trans-fats, three substances that lead to obesity, diabetes, cancer and heart disease. Swap out these health saboteurs in favor of whole grains, including bread, pasta and seeds. Ditch processed sweets for fresh fruits – and enjoy as much as you like.
It’s important to remember that added vegetable oils, like olive oil, can be considered processed. Get creative with your cooking and experiment with lemon and lime juices, vinegar and spices. Plant-based foods contain natural oils, so added oils aren’t necessary during cooking.
This type of eating isn’t a diet; it’s a nutritional commitment. While vegans avoid animal and dairy products, they don’t ideologically avoid processed foods like potato chips.