There is so much in the news nowadays about what is good to eat and what isn’t, it can be a little confusing at times. And people still tend to think that eating healthy is eating foods that don’t taste very well and are boring. But what if you could eat some of the foods that you love and live longer doing it?
Now author-physician Ralph Felder (who is also a practicing chef) has written a book that attempts to simplify the playing field. “The Bonus Years Diet” (G.P Putnam’s Sons, 420 pages, $25.95), written by Dr. Felder along with Carol Colman and Oscar H. Franco shows you how to add an average of 6.4 years on to your life expectancy if you are a man and 4.6 years if you are a woman. They also say that everyone who follows the diet can reduce their chances of getting heart disease by 76 percent. The book contains 30 days of meal plans and 125 recopies. There is no calorie counting or restrictions on what you eat.
The book focuses on seven “miracle foods” that have been proven scientifically to have benefits to your health. But for some of these foods the health benefits are negated if they are consumed in a certain way. Here is a list of the foods presented in the book and some tips on how to use them:
The health benefits of drinking a glass of red wine daily has been researched for over ten years now. In 1992, Harvard researchers claimed that moderate alcohol consumption was a proven way to reduce coronary artery disease. Later research has shown that drinking the alcohol in red wine is the most beneficial to your heart health. Scientists believe that the antioxidants in red wine, called flavonoids, reduce the risk of disease in three ways:
-By lowering production of LDL cholesterol or “bad” cholesterol.
-By boosting the production of HDL, or “good” cholesterol.
-By reducing blood clotting.
Additional research has suggested that resveratrol, which is found in the skin of red grapes, may reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.
Dark Chocolate contains potent antioxidants that gobble up free radicals, destructive molecules that are implicated in heart disease and a list of other ailments. Dark chocolate has also been shown to reduce mildly elevated blood pressure by a significant amount. Chocolate is very rich in calories and contains a lot of fat, so a little goes a long way. Also remember that milk chocolate doesn’t have the healthy effects of dark chocolate. Eating dark chocolate with a glass of milk isn’t a good idea either, because the milk negates the effects of the antioxidant in the chocolate.
Fruits and Vegetables. Research in the United States and the Netherlands has shown that regular consumption of fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of heart disease by 20-40 percent. A review by the American Institute for Cancer Research concluded, “diets containing substantial and varied amounts of fruits and vegetables could prevent 20 percent or more of all cases of cancer.” Two things to bear in mind here are: Varied. It’s a good idea to eat fruits and vegetables from all the different color groups. And secondly, use fresh fruits and vegetables. Studies have shown that those taking dietary supplements actually have a HIGHER mortality rate.
Garlic. The health benefits of garlic have been proven over the course of many years. Garlic contains two different chemicals that have health benefits: Allicin and Diallyl sulphides. Allicin has been shown to have antibiotic and anti-fungal properties. Diallyl sulphides may increase circulation and lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol and boost the immune system. An important thing to remember when using fresh garlic is that these two compounds are only released when the garlic is finely chopped or crushed. Cooking garlic whole has almost no effect.
Nuts are one of the best plant sources of protein. They are rich in fiber, antioxidants, and phytonutrients, as well as Vitamin E and selenium. They contain omega 3 fatty acids, which may help lower bad cholesterol. In 2003, the FDA approved the following health claim for 7 different kinds of nuts: Scientific evidence suggests (not proves) that eating 1.5 oz. Per day of most nuts as a part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may help reduce heart disease. Tip: Walnuts and almonds are at the top of the list.
In addition to the above “miracle foods” the diet calls for eating three 5-ounce servings of fish per week.