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Dr K K Aggarwal

Paint your plate with the colors of the rainbow: Include all 7 colors and 6 tastes

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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US Dietary Guidelines recommend consuming 2 1/2 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit, based on a 2,000-calorie diet. The American Cancer Society recommends 2 1/2 cups of fruits and vegetables in a day.

All vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and beans contain phytonutrients. Phytonutrients have potential anti-cancer and anti-heart disease effects in addition to other health benefits.

Phytonutrients in different colors

  • Red: Rich in lycopene, a potent scavenger of gene-damaging free radicals that seems to provide protection against prostate cancer as well as heart and lung disease [Strawberries, cranberries, raspberries, tomatoes, cherries, apples, beets, watermelon, red grapes, red peppers, red onions]
  • Orange and yellow: Provide beta cryptothanxin; it lends support in intracellular communication and may have a role in preventing heart disease [carrots, sweet potatoes, yellow peppers, oranges, bananas, pineapple, tangerines, mango, pumpkin, apricots, winter squash (butternut, acorn), peaches, cantaloupe, corn]
  • Green: Rich in cancer-blocking chemicals such as sulforaphane, isocyanate, and indoles, which inhibit the action of carcinogens [spinach, avocados, asparagus, artichokes, broccoli, alfalfa sprouts, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kiwi fruit, collard greens, green tea, green herbs (mint, rosemary, sage, thyme, and basil)]
  • Blue and purple: Possess antioxidants called anthocyanins that seem to delay cellular aging and help the heart by inhibiting the formation of blood clots [blueberries, blackberries, elderberries, Concord grapes, raisins, eggplant, plums, figs, prunes, lavender, purple cabbage]
  • White and brown: The onion family contains allicin, which is known to possess anti-tumor properties. Other foods in this group contain antioxidant flavonoids like quercetin and kaempferol [onions, cauliflower, garlic, leeks, parsnips, daikon radish, mushrooms]

Our ancient texts and traditions have always advocated the principles of “variety” and “moderation” i.e. eat a variety of food, and eat in moderation. A balanced diet includes all seven colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue/purple, white) and six tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent) for a balanced diet.

They also recommend mindful eating or eating with awareness. Mindful eating means being aware of the hunger and satiety signals of the body. It also means using all the five senses while eating: colors (eye), smells (nose), flavors (taste), textures (touch) and sound while chewing (ear) of the food. Mindful eating also relieves stress and will help to check the rising numbers of lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, metabolic syndrome, etc.

The Bhagwad Gita explains how to eat: “While eating, one should concentrate only on eating as the food is served to one’s consciousness” (9.27).

In Chapter 6 Shloka 17 of the Bhagwad Gita, Krishna says to Arjuna “Yukaharaviharasya yuktachestasya karmasu. Yuktasvapnavabodhasya yoga bhavati duhkhaha.” This means “the one, whose diet and movements are balanced, whose actions are proper, whose hours of sleeping and waking up are regular, and who follows the path of meditation, is the destroyer of pain or unhappiness.”

(Source: Harvard Health Blog, Katherine D McManus)

5 tips to reduce salt in your diet

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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  1. Make reading food labels a habit. Sodium content is always listed on food labels. Sodium content can vary from brand to brand, so compare and choose the lowest sodium product. Certain foods don’t taste particularly salty but are actually high in sodium, such as cottage cheese, so it’s critical to check labels.
  2. Stick to fresh meats, fruits and vegetables rather than their packaged counterparts, which tend to be higher in sodium.
  3. Avoid spices and seasonings that contain added sodium, for example garlic salt. Choose garlic powder instead.
  4. Many restaurants list the sodium content of their products on their websites, so do your homework before dining out. Also, you can request that your food be prepared without any added salt.
  5. Try to spread your sodium intake out throughout the day; it’s easier on your kidneys than eating lots of salt all at once.

Why do we never eat a breakfast of onion?

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Anything which cannot be taken as a full meal is not good for health and either should not be taken or taken in a small amount. For example, we never eat a breakfast of onion or garlic or radish. These are foods, which either should not be taken or eaten only in small quantity only as an accompaniment to the main meal. Onion is good for health and has anti–cholesterol and also blood thinning properties, yet it is consumed only in small quantity. In Vedic language, onion has both rajasik and tamasik promoting properties, which make a person more aggressive and dull.

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this write up are my own)

The medicinal use of chocolate has a long history in North America dating back to the 16th century. From Mesoamerican Codices and European Treatises scholars have determined that for hundreds of years the beverage called chocolate was administered to the sick and prescribed homeopathically to prevent illness.

Cocoa and particularly dark chocolate are rich in flavonoids and it lowers the blood pressure. Blood pressure lowering effect was shown in a Novel Study by Al-Safi SA and group from Texas Woman’s University, College of Nursing in Jordan in 2011.

The data that plant sterols combined with dark chocolate reduces bad LDL cholesterol was published in 2008 in the journal

A Harvard study published in 2011 in Clinical Nutrition by Diousse L and group from Brigham and Women’s Hospital has shown that dark chocolate consumption is inversely associated with prevalence of coronary heart disease.

Dark chocolate improves endothelial functions and the platelet function was shown by Hermann F and group in 2006 in the Journal Heart.

Franco OH and group from Erasmus MC University Medical Centre Rotterdam, Netherlands in 2004 wrote in British Medical Journal that the polymeal concept is a more natural, safer, and probably tastier than the Polypill strategy to reduce cardiovascular disease by more than 75%. The evidence based recipe included wine, fish, dark chocolate, fruits, vegetables, garlic, and almonds.

Another study published in 2007 in Heart Advis has shown that small dietary changes yield big blood pressure benefits. One should limit sodium, eat more veggies, and add modest amounts of soy nuts and dark chocolate to improve the heart health.

In 2009 Sirtori CR and group from University of Milano, Italy wrote in Nutr Res Rev journal that dark chocolate is gaining much attention as a functional food for its multifunctional activities, useful both for the prevention of dyslipidemia as well as hypertension.

Loffredo L and group from I Clinica Medica, Viale del Policlinico Italy has shown in the journal Heart in 2011 that the acute effects of dark chocolate in smokers are due to NOX2-mediated arterial dysfunction. Cocoa enhances artery dilatation by lowering of NOX2 activation as assessed by blood levels of soluble NOX2 derived peptide.