American consumers should stop thinking about food as merely a meal, and start viewing what they eat as medicine necessary to maintain healthy, disease-free lives.
That’s the latest word from food scientists in a new report in Food Technology magazine on recent discoveries in nutritional genomics that explain how plant-based diets are effective at warding off disease.
The report notes that the World Health Organization recently noted 63 percent of the deaths that occurred in 2008 were attributed to chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, type 2 diabetes, and obesity — for which poor diets are contributing factors. Yet people who eat healthy, plant-based diets rarely fall victim to these ailments, the WHO report said. Wheat Belly: #1 Diet and Health Book in America Changing Lives - ONLY $4.95! Save $21!
In the Food Technology article, senior writer and editor Toni Tarver noted studies have long shown that a high consumption of plant foods is associated with lower incidents of chronic disease. The culprits, the article explains, may be bioactive compounds in plant foods play a role in controlling genetic and other biological factors that lead to chronic disease.
For example, antioxidants in plant foods counter free radicals that can cause chronic inflammation and damage cells. And other plant compounds help control genes linked to cardiovascular disease, plaque buildup in arteries, and other cellular processes responsible for forming and sustaining tumors.
Dr. William W. Li, medical director of the Angiogenesis Foundation in Cambridge, Mass., said a growing body of research has found a variety foods may help prevent cancer and other chronic diseases — including artichokes, black pepper, cinnamon, garlic, lentils, olives, pumpkin, rosemary, thyme, and watercress.
Saying more consumers should look at food as medicine, Li added: "Prevention is always better than a cure."