This is a difficult recipe post for me to make. I am a little behind in my recipe postings for two very good reasons:
- My grandfather is in the hospital dying of heart disease. He was an active man who was never overweight.
- I am working to complete a certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition through Cornell University.
The course material is very timely for me. We have been extensively covering the role that diet plays in the development of heart disease and cancers, the two consistent top causes of death in the United States. These are diseases of affluent nations. The richer we are, the poorer our diets become, full of processed foods and animal proteins.
The Heart Disease Epidemic
According to the CDC, about 600,000 people die from heart disease in the US per year. That is 1 in every 4 deaths. This is an epidemic. Conservatively, the CDC says that about 200,000 (1/3) of heart disease deaths are preventable with diet. However, based on the lifetime work of T. Colin Campbell, PhD, author of The China Study, Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition, and The Low-Carb Fraud, he estimates that a full 90% of heart disease is preventable with the proper diet. The more calories we take in from unrefined plant foods instead of animal proteins and processed foods, the less we die from heart disease and cancer as a species.
Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn Jr, a respected surgeon who directs the cardiovascular prevention and reversal program at The Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, has had great success in halting and reversing heart disease among inoperable patients. His patients, “…agreed to follow a plant-based diet with <10% of calories derived from fat. They were asked to eliminate oil [except flax seed], dairy products … , fish, fowl, and meat. They were encouraged to eat grains, legumes, lentils, vegetables, and fruit. Cholesterol-lowering medication was individualized. The only goal was to achieve and maintain a total serum cholesterol of <150 mg/dl”.
He has also written a great article about abolishing heart disease on Dr. Campbell’s Center for Nutrition Studies website. Here are some of the highlights:
- Autopsies from soldiers in the Korean and Vietnam wars revealed an 80% rate of coronary heart disease. The median age was 20.
- A study of autopsies from accident, homicide, and suicide victims aged 16-34 revealed heart disease in every single one.
- When the Nazis invaded Norway and seized all of their livestock, the people subsisted on whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. Their rates of death from heart disease and stroke plummeted, but went back up to pre-occupation rates when their livestock was returned.
- As Western culture has permeated into Asia, these countries have started to adopt our bad dietary habits. They are shifting away from strongly plant based diets and starting to consume more animal proteins and processed foods. Coronary artery disease is predicted to become the #1 global disease burden by 2020.
The Hearth Healthy Diet
Based on the work of these men, and many others on the forefront of this research, the ideal diet for human health is a whole foods plant based diet. We receive the right balance of macronutrients automatically when we eat whole unprocessed foods grown from the ground. Dr. Campbell’s latest book, Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition, spells it out:
“The ideal human diet looks like this: Consume plant-based foods in forms as close to their natural state as possible (‘whole’ foods). Eat a variety of vegetables, fruits, raw nuts and seeds, beans and legumes, and whole grains. Avoid heavily processed foods and animal products. Stay away from added salt, oil, and sugar. Aim to get 80 percent of your calories from carbohydrates, 10 percent from fat, and 10 percent from protein.”
Note: Dr. Esselstyn noted that the exception to the rule for oils is flaxseed oil, as it is the only one that contains more omega-3 than omega-6 fatty acid.
I am starting to incorporate more of these practices into my own diet, as I am constantly looking for ways to continue improving my own health. Going forward, more effort will be made for my recipes to follow the protocols outlined above that science is validating are correct for our species.
Heart Healthy Gazpacho with Radish and Caraway
This is a heart healthy variation of gazpacho, which incorporates radish and caraway seed for a subtle punch of flavor. It follows the low fat whole foods plant based approach for heart health as outlined by the research of Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn and T. Colin Campbell, PhD. The only acceptable oil to use in small quantities is flax seed oil, which contains more omega-3 than omega-6.
- 2 cucumbers
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1/2 small red onion
- 6 radishes
- 5 medium sized vine ripened tomatoes (I grew mine!)
- 1 clove raw garlic (probiotic upgrade: 5-6 ACV fermented garlic cloves)
- 2 TB flax seed oil
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp caraway seed
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- Finely chop 2-4TB of each vegetable and set aside to stir into the soup.
- Add everything else to a high speed blender (Vitamix is my preference) and blend thoroughly until everything is smooth and well incorporated.
- Pour into two large bowls and sprinkle the chopped vegetables in.
- Makes two large meal-sized servings or 4-6 appetizer/side servings.
- I also tried the soup with a quick pesto recipe (basil, flax oil, sea salt, pepper, garlic, sun dried tomato, hemp seed, and some nutritional yeast), and mixed it in. Two thumbs up from my mom and sister.
A Taste of Two Plates http://tasteoftwoplates.com/