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Articles from 2000 In February


Delicious Living

March 1, 2000

March 1, 2000

Drugs That Steal: Statin Drugs

Drugs That Steal: "Statin Drugs"

The so-called "statin" drugs are the prescription of choice for people with high cholesterol. Statin drugs are generally safe and effective for a limited time, but patients should be monitored for possible adverse consequences of CoQ10 reductions during long-term use.
Drug Nutrient Depletions Health Problems HMG-CoA Reductate Inhibitors Coenzyme Q10 Congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, low energy
*Statin drugs include atorvastatin (Lipitor), cerivastatin (Baycol), lovastatin (Mevacor), fluvastatin (Lescol), pravastatin (Pravachol), simvastatin (Zocor).

Reprinted with permission from Drug-Induced Nutrient Depletion Handbook (Lexi-Comp) by Ross Pelton, Ph.D., C.N.; James B. LaValle, N.D., C.N., D.H.M.; Ernest B. Hawkins; and Daniel L. Krinsky.

 

Delicious Living

ARCHIVE: Non-Dairy Hot Cocoa

Non-Dairy Hot Cocoa Serves 6 A winter favorite for all. Dairy-free and indulgent. Great for breakfast, before bed or during an afternoon snowstorm. Cuddle up with a cup.

Cooking Time: 5 minutes
Prep Time: 5 minutes

1/2 cup water
6 tablespoons organic sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
Dash salt
3 cups enriched organic soy drink
1/2 teaspoon organic vanilla extract

1. Blend water, sugar, cocoa and salt in a 1 1/2-quart saucepan. Gradually bring to a boil. Stir until sugar and cocoa are completely dissolved, about 1 minute.

2. Add soy drink and vanilla. Heat thoroughly, stirring occasionally. Do not boil. Remove from heat and serve.

Great to start off your valentine's day or a great pick me up at any time. Moist and delicious. Can be frozen then reheated for later use.

Delicious Living

Chocolate-Studded Strawberry Apple Crisp

Chocolate-Studded Strawberry Apple Crisp
February, 2000

Makes 8 servings / Chocolate and fruit are great companions. Plus, this crisp is dairy-free and wheat-free! Prep Time: 15 minutes Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Fruit filling:
2 organic Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced
2 tablespoons organic sugar
2 tablespoons organic brown rice flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 bag (10 oz.) frozen organic strawberries, thawed

Topping:
1 cup organic rolled oats
1/3 cup organic brown rice flour
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons organic sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup dairy-free semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Combine apples, sugar, flour and cinnamon in a bowl. Gently fold in strawberries. Pour into an 8'x 8' baking pan.
3. Combine oats, flour, oil, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Sprinkle oat mixture evenly over strawberries. Sprinkle chocolate chips over top. Bake for 35 minutes.

Calories 181,Fat 7,Perfat 36,Cholesterol 0,Carbo 27,Protein 3,Fiber N/A,Sodium N/A
Delicious Living

ARCHIVE: Nondairy Chocolate Sauce

Nondairy Chocolate Sauce
February, 2000

Makes 20 1-tablespoon servings / Rich in taste, but not in fat. Plus, it's dairy-free! A great way to add elegance to a simple scoop of frozen dessert or a slice of angel food cake. Top with fresh berries for added color. Cooking Time: 5 minutes Prep Time: 5 minutes

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 cup organic sugar
Dash of salt
1 cup vanilla-flavored organic almond milk
1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract

1. In a tall-sided saucepan, combine cocoa, sugar and salt. Gradually add almond milk until smooth.
2. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture boils. Reduce heat to medium-high and cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in vanilla. Serve immediately or cool completely and reheat for later use.

Calories 24,Fat 1/2,Perfat 21,Cholesterol 0,Carbo 4,Protein 1,Fiber N/A,Sodium N/A

 

Delicious Living

ARCHIVE: Chocolate Dessert Waffles

Chocolate Dessert Waffles
February, 2000

Makes 3-1/2 cups batter Serving Size: 1/2 cup WaffleDepending on their size and shape, the waffles make a terrific base or garnish for a frozen dessert. They're also delicious simply drizzled with chocolate sauce on its own. Can be frozen and reheated for later use. Cooking Time: 15 minutes Prep Time: 5 minutes

1 3/4 cup organic multigrain pancake and waffle mix
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 cup organic sugar
1 1/2 cup vanilla-flavored organic almond milk
1 tablespoon oil
2 extra-large organic eggs
1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract


1. Mix together pancake and waffle mix, cocoa and sugar in a small bowl. Set aside.
2. Whisk together almond milk, oil, eggs and vanilla in a medium bowl. Stir in waffle mixture just until lumps disappear. Bake according to waffle iron instructions. Drizzle with Nondairy Chocolate Sauce (see recipe).

Calories 203,Fat 5,Perfat 23,Cholesterol 61,Carbo 30,Protein 8,Fiber N/A,Sodium N/A

 

Delicious Living

Mocha Chip Muffins

 

Makes 12 large or 36 mini muffins/ These moist and delicious muffins are a great way to start a day. Containing both oat bran and wheat germ, they are packed with fiber.

1 1/2 cups organic unbleached white flour

1 1/2 cups organic whole grain pastry flour

1 1/2 tablespoons each: brewer's yeast, wheat germ and oat bran

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon each baking soda and sea salt

1 1/2 cup plain organic nonfat yogurt

3 tablespoons dark roast instant coffee

10 tablespoons organic unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sucanot, ground

2 extra large organic eggs

1 cup Sunspire organic semi-sweet chocolate chips
 

1. Pre-heat oven to 375*F. Completely grease the inside and top of muffin pans. Set aside.

2. Mix flours, brewer's yeast, wheat germ, oat bran, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.

3. Blend yogurt with coffee in a small bowl. Set aside.

4. Using an electric mixer, beat together butter and sucanot until fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

5. Beat in 1/2 of the flour mixture. Beat in 1/3 of the yogurt mixture. Beat in remaining flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the yogurt mixture, until incorporated. Fold in the chips.

6. Using a large ice cream scoop, scoop a generous portion of batter into the muffin pans. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Set on a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Remove from pans and serve warm. (For mini muffins, use a small scoop and bake for 12-15 minutes.)

Delicious Living

A Passion for Chocolate

A Passion For Chocolate
Intro by Rebecca Broida Gart
Recipes by Mary Jo Romano

Make your Valentine's Day extra sweet with all-natural chocolate desserts.

When it comes to chocolate, ice cream particularly tempts me. So do cakes, cookies, crisps and pies. I savor the enveloping silkiness of a luscious hunk of chocolate; the slight hint of bitterness; the elegant, sweet aroma; the delicate, dark color. I lament a poor-quality, waxy chocolate morsel, but at home I take pride in using the premium stuff all the way. Yes, you can label me a chocoholic, and with happiness I nod in agreement. The best part is — I'm not alone.

It doesn't take much to get self-professed chocoholics to start talking about their favorite culinary subject. White, milk or dark? What's the best method for melting? Take small bites or pop the whole thing in your mouth? Cream-filled, fruit-filled or nougat-filled? Favorite candy bar? The conversations could last for days.

So why does chocolate arouse such passion? According to Tish Boyle and Timothy Moriarty, authors of Chocolate Passion (Wiley), the answer is fivefold. First, cocoa butter, the fat in chocolate, melts almost exactly at body temperature. Sure, other foods melt, but there is a moment in chocolate that is neither solid nor liquid: both and neither. Pretty cool, huh? Then, there are the pleasant memories associated with chocolate: comfort, good times, special occasions of childhood. Third, cravings. The combination of fat, sweet and carbohydrates attracts the survival mechanisms in our brains. Fourth is purely primal instinct: While a taste for hot and bitter foods is acquired, we were all born with a love of sweets. And the last reason we love chocolate is for its flavor.

'Nuff said. The following five recipes promise to ignite some passion and leave you ruminating about the wonderful experience of cooking with chocolate. And that these recipes are low in fat is only part of the fun. Enjoy!



Chocolate Dessert Waffles

Makes 3 1/2 cups batter;
Serving size: 1/2 cup


Depending on the size and shape of the waffle, it is terrific as the base or a garnish for a frozen dessert, or simply drizzled with chocolate sauce on its own. Can be frozen and reheated for later use.

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes

1 3/4 cup organic multigrain pancake and waffle mix
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 cup organic sugar
1 1/2 cup vanilla-flavored organic almond milk
1 tablespoon oil
2 extra-large organic eggs
1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract

1. Mix together pancake and waffle mix, cocoa and sugar in a small bowl. Set aside.

2. Whisk together almond milk, oil, eggs and vanilla in a medium bowl. Stir in waffle mixture just until lumps disappear. Bake according to waffle iron instructions. Drizzle with Nondairy Chocolate Sauce (see recipe).

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: Calories: 203 Fat: 5g % fat calories: 23 Cholesterol: 61mg Carbohydrate: 30g Protein: 8g

Nondairy Chocolate Sauce

Makes 20 1-tablespoon servings

Rich in taste but not in fat. Plus, it's dairy-free! A great way to add elegance to a simple scoop of frozen dessert or a slice of angel food cake. Top with fresh berries for added color.

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 5 minutes

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 cup organic sugar
Dash of salt
1 cup vanilla-flavored organic almond milk
1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract

1. In a tall-sided saucepan, combine cocoa, sugar and salt. Gradually add almond milk until smooth.

2. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture boils. Reduce heat to medium-high and cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in vanilla. Serve immediately or cool completely and reheat for later use.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: Calories: 24 Fat: .5g % fat calories: 21 Cholesterol: 0mg Carbohydrate: 4g Protein: 1g

Chewy Organic Whole-Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes 3 dozen 2-inch cookies;
Serving size: 1 cookie


To get uniform cookie sizes, use an ice-cream scoop to form the batter on the sheet pans. Then, create a gift bag, basket or box of these classic cookies turned healthy.

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes

1 1/4 cups organic unbleached white flour
3/4 cup organic whole-grain pastry flour
2 tablespoons each: oat bran, wheat germ and brewer's yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons each: baking soda and baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup organic unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sucanot, ground
2 extra-large organic eggs
1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
1 10-ounce package grain-sweetened semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine flours, oat bran, wheat germ, brewer's yeast, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium-size bowl. Set aside.

3. Using an electric mixer, in a large bowl cream together butter and sucanot until fluffy, about 4 minutes.

4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla.

5. Slowly blend in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips.

6. Drop spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 10 - 12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 2 minutes on the sheet pan. Transfer to a wire cooling rack.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: Calories: 114 Fat: 7g % fat calories: 53 Cholesterol: 22mg Carbohydrate: 12g Protein: 2g

Chocolate-Studded Strawberry Apple Crisp

Makes 8 servings

Chocolate and fruit are great companions. Plus, this crisp is dairy-free and wheat-free!

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Fruit filling:

2 organic Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced
2 tablespoons organic sugar
2 tablespoons organic brown rice flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 bag (10 oz.) frozen organic strawberries, thawed

Topping:

1 cup organic rolled oats
1/3 cup organic brown rice flour
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons organic sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup dairy-free semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine apples, sugar, flour and cinnamon in a bowl. Gently fold in strawberries. Pour into an 8''x 8'' baking pan.

3. Combine oats, flour, oil, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Sprinkle oat mixture evenly over strawberries. Sprinkle chocolate chips over top. Bake for 35 minutes.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: Calories: 181 Fat: 7g % fat calories: 36 Cholesterol: 0mg Carbohydrate: 27g Protein: 3g
 

Mary Jo Romano is a trained chef based in Norwalk, Conn., specializing in whole-foods cooking. Rebecca Broida Gart is a senior editor for Delicious! magazine.
 

Photography by Laurie Smith

Delicious Living

Taking Your Diet to Heart

Taking Your Diet to Heart
by Suzanne Girard Eberle, M.S., R.D.

What you can do today to decrease your risk of heart disease tomorrow.

When it comes to taking care of your heart, change is in the air. It's still valuable to know your blood cholesterol level and to check food labels for hidden fat, but the heart-healthy dietary prescriptive that has been traditionally dispensed has now changed considerably. The low-fat, low-cholesterol, high-carbohydrate approach is under challenge, while filling up on foods rich in certain nutrients — most notably folic acid and omega-3 fatty acids — is the current trend.

Focusing on the types of fat and carbohydrates you eat, not simply the quantity of each, has become as important as the age-old advice to limit cholesterol-laden foods, such as eggs and red meat. On top of that, flavonoids, vitamin-like substances found in plant foods, continue to promise impressive heart-protective benefits. Do your heart a favor and read on for the most current heart-smart dietary advice.

New Views On Fat and Carbohydrates
While not completely out of the doghouse, dietary fat is no longer seen as the sole villain driving up your risk of heart disease. Obviously, eating a low-fat diet can produce desirable benefits, such as lowering levels of total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (a.k.a. the "bad" guy). Unfortunately, levels of heart-protective high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (a.k.a. the "good" guy) may also plummet on a low-fat diet.

Furthermore, you may experience other unhealthy changes, such as an increase in triglycerides, while following a low-fat eating plan. Triglycerides, derived primarily from the fats you eat, or made by your body from excess calories coming from alcohol or carbohydrate-rich foods, increase the stickiness of your blood. High levels raise your risk of developing heart disease. One recent study of healthy men found that one-third exhibited a drop in HDL and a rise in triglycerides when switched from a 40 percent fat diet to a 20 or 25 percent fat diet (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1999, vol. 69).

Before you toss that apple and order a double scoop of ice cream, though, keep this emerging information on dietary fats in perspective. The type of fat and carbohydrates you eat (a low-fat diet, after all, is by default high in carbohydrates) appears to be the most important factor in keeping your risk for heart disease low.

Saturated fat, the kind found in high-fat meats and whole-milk dairy products, remains the main dietary culprit in raising "bad" LDL cholesterol. Opting for three-ounce portions of lean poultry, fish and meat (the size of a deck of cards), non- or low-fat versions of dairy products and meatless meals several times a week still makes sense. So does limiting the amount of trans fats that you consume. Found in packaged foods made with hydrogenated oil, stick margarine and fried foods, trans fats deliver a double whammy — boosting levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol and lowering levels of "good" HDL cholesterol.

But the good news about dietary fat is that all fats aren't bad for you. Monounsaturated fat, the primary fat in olive oil, canola oil, nuts and avocados, doesn't increase LDLs and may actually raise beneficial HDLs. If you're struggling to keep your cholesterol profile in line on a low-fat diet, or you're just struggling through tasteless, low-fat meals, paying more attention to your intake of mono fats may be the solution.

The key, of course, is not to simply add mono-rich foods to your diet, but to substitute foods rich in monounsaturated fat for saturated and trans-rich foods that you eliminate. Chris Meletis, N.D., dean of clinical education and chief medical officer of the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Ore., agrees: "As long as you maintain a healthy weight, adding some fat back to your diet in the form of monounsaturated fat is fine. Various ethnic diets readily demonstrate that."

Just as all dietary fats don't affect your cholesterol profile in the same way, neither do carbohydrates. Filling up on fat-free packaged foods or other foods similarly high in refined sugar and flour can contribute to elevated triglyceride levels. Consuming fiber-rich whole grains, on the other hand, can help reduce your risk for heart disease.

One convincing study followed more than 75,000 women with no history of diabetes or heart disease, and found that those women who consumed two to three servings of whole grains per day reduced their risk of heart disease by almost 30 percent (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1999, vol. 69). Good choices include whole wheat bread and crackers; brown rice; bran flakes; whole grains such as buckwheat, bulgur and barley; toasted wheat germ; oatmeal; and popcorn.

Protection with Folate & Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The traditional means of fighting heart disease focused on eliminating foods from the diet. Today, loading up on certain foods appears to be the smartest move. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, or the B-vitamin folate, pack the most protective punch. Without enough folate, for example, levels of the amino acid homocysteine increase in your blood, causing plaque to build up along blood vessel walls.

Studies consistently show that as homocysteine levels rise so does the risk of a heart attack (Annals of Internal Medicine, 1999, vol. 131). In fact, homocysteine may turn out to be a more reliable risk indicator for heart disease than cholesterol. To reduce your danger, fill up on folate-rich foods such as lentils, black-eyed peas and garbanzo beans; dark-green leafy greens; orange juice; and fortified breakfast cereals. You can also take a multivitamin containing the recommended daily folate dose of 400 micrograms.

Eating fish has long been touted as a great way to lower your risk of heart disease. The omega-3 fatty acid found in fish, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), deserves the credit. EPA can reduce your risk of blood clots and help prevent irregular heart rhythms. The best way to get omega-3s in your diet is to eat cold-water fish such as salmon or herring once or twice a week.

Meletis also recommends incorporating foods rich in alpha-linolenic acid, another heart-protective omega-3 fatty acid, into your daily diet. Canola and soybean oils, flaxseed oil, purslane (a leafy green) and walnuts also contain healthy amounts of alpha-linolenic acid.

The Power of Flavonoids
No heart-healthy diet is complete without flavonoids or phytochemicals, vitamin-like compounds naturally found in most deeply colored fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as green and black teas, red wine, herbs and soy products. Flavonoids help prevent damage to blood vessels by acting as powerful antioxidants. They also make blood cells less prone to clots, which can cause heart attacks. Aim for five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

The evidence for consuming soy flavonoids, also known as isoflavones, continues to grow. Whole soy products such as tempeh, tofu and green soybeans supply the most isoflavones. Aim for 25 grams of soy protein and at least 30 mg of isoflavones daily.

Suzanne Girard Eberle is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

 

Delicious Living

Eating by the Book

Eating By The Book
by Monika Klein, C.N.

Despite the shifting focus from thinness to fitness, we are still a society obsessed with weight. Here, clinical nutritionist Monika Klein summarizes the health-and-fitness sense of some of the most popular diet plans.

Weight loss is not the only reason people diet, but it is the most common. While people also diet for freedom from chronic disease, to sustain energy and to encourage a positive attitude, Hollywood has created the most toxic reason to diet — false image. Unrealistic expectations can lead to serious conditions such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia.

Added to the mix is a multibillion-dollar diet industry that has many of us feeling conned and confused. Pills, packaged foods and eating programs are alluring to our fast-food, instant-gratification culture. Sure, you want quick and easy ways to lose weight. Unfortunately, too often people attach so much importance to dieting that it leaves them in emotional, physical and spiritual pain. All of my clients have stories about a diet that worked for a friend. And they think maybe it will work for them, too.

The truth is many diets work for many people, but the ideal diet must be tailor-made for each individual. Sensible diets contain fruits and vegetables, less saturated fats and fewer total calories. What differentiates most diets from each other are the proportions of carbohydrates, protein and fat they contain.

The following diets are among the more popular plans being sold in bookstores today. If you're looking for a diet to accommodate your health needs, these summaries will give you a starting place.

The "Balanced" Theories
Both the Blood-Type and the Zone diets advocate maintaining health by eating a balanced ratio of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Overall, foods contained in the Blood-Type diet represent a balanced ratio but vary widely depending on one's blood type. The Zone popularized the 40/30/30 ratio of carbohydrates, protein and fat and is a good maintenance diet because it contains a variety of essential vitamins and minerals, with a nutrient balance to stabilize blood sugar.

Blood-Type Diet
The diet popularized by naturopathic doctor Peter D'Adamo's book Eat Right 4 Your Type (G.P. Putnam's Sons) bases food choices on the blood types O, A, B and AB.

Type O blood is regarded by anthropologists as the oldest human blood type. People with type O blood, according to D'Adamo, had hunter-gatherer ancestors and do well eating meat. They have enough hydrochloric acid (HCl) in their stomachs to digest meat proteins.1 Because neither dairy products nor grains such as wheat and corn became staples until later in human evolution, D'Adamo theorizes the digestive systems of those with type O blood never adapted to them.

D'Adamo believes people with type A blood descended from those who developed agriculture and grain cultivation, and therefore are fine candidates for diets based on grains and vegetables. Unlike people with type O blood, D'Adamo says they do not have enough HCl to digest meats and are more suited to fish and tofu.

People with type B blood are descended from herdsmen, explains D'Adamo, and they do well eating dairy — unlike both O and A types. The rarest type is AB, which he believes the human species will eventually evolve into. People with type AB blood can eat a bit of everything.2

D'Adamo also says certain health conditions are blood-type specific — although blood type is more of a guideline than the sole determining factor.

I have seen success with this diet in my practice: People have lost weight, cleared sinus conditions, improved bowel function, balanced blood sugar and, perhaps most importantly, they feel better.

As with any diet, however, compliance is always a problem. This diet can be difficult to adhere to and can get quite specific — for example, D'Adamo recommends staying away from certain types of onions and cabbage. Although some people lose weight on this diet, it is better suited to people interested in clearing up existing health conditions such as arthritis or allergies, and maintaining their health.

The Zone
Barry Sears, Ph.D., first introduced the balance concept several years ago when he published his book The Zone (ReganBooks).

Sears proposes that excessive carbohydrates are to blame for the fattening of America, a theory unheard of at the time by most diet and nutrition experts and certainly the general population. It is commonly held that pasta, rice cakes and bagels are health foods, not high-glycemic foods that adversely affect health. Sears says otherwise, and studies have confirmed this.3

He advises people who wish to lose weight to balance carbohydrates, protein and fat intake to a 40/30/30 ratio. This is a significant change from the previous conventional wisdom of a 60/20/20 ratio, which minimized protein and fats because they are associated with some of the most debilitating diseases such as cancer and heart disease. As Sears points out, concurrent with the 20-year-old war on fat is a rise in diabetes and insulin resistance. He says this is primarily due to high-carbohydrate, low-fat diets that increase insulin.4,5 Unlike diets that restrict calories, the Zone balances hormones.6

Most of Sears' studies have been done with a large HMO patient base and results show the Zone's effectiveness. Sears claims the Zone is an anti-aging, calorie-restricted program. Countless animal studies show that calorie restriction — but not malnutrition — results in longer and healthier lives.7

One drawback is that, even though most people lose weight on this diet, its calorie restrictions leave people hungry, especially those who are physically active. This is a sound diet because it promotes balance, but some may find following the exact portions difficult. Also, since it advocates eating meat, it is problematic for vegetarians.

High Carbohydrate/Low Fat
Both the Life Choice program and the McDougall program qualify as low-fat, vegetarian diets. One small but potentially meaningful difference is that the Life Choice program recommends fish-oil supplements, while the McDougall program is strictly vegan — no animal products whatsoever.

The Life Choice Program
Developed by Dean Ornish, M.D., and explained in his book Eat More, Weigh Less (Harper Paperbacks), this plan could be classified as the fat-phobic diet. Many have lost weight with this diet,8 but it won't work for everyone.

It is low in protein and fat, including essential fatty acids, as well as low in several micronutrients such as vitamin B12 and zinc, which tend to come from animal products. Although the book does not specify ratios per se, I would estimate it as 75 to 85 percent carbohydrates from grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables; 5 to 10 percent fat; and 10 to 15 percent protein from grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.

Anyone following this diet long term should increase the fat amount, especially women because inadequate fat consumption can affect a woman's hormone levels.9 Ornish contends that the biggest nemesis in our diets is saturated fats.10 He does support the use of 2 grams a day of fish oil — the exception to the vegetarian rule — and 2 grams a day of flaxseed oil (a polyunsaturated fat) to provide essential omega-3 fatty aids.

This fiber-rich diet restores proper elimination and is a good cleansing diet. Many of Ornish's results have been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, and his program has become the accepted way to treat weight loss and even serious illnesses such as heart disease, hypertension and cancer.

The mind/body aspect of this diet is quite valuable. Much of Ornish's program is lifestyle-enhancing, whereby participants are encouraged not only to change eating habits but also to exercise, meditate, and become involved with group therapy and stress management. In my clinical experience, emotional support is often the most important aspect of dieting, yet it is commonly overlooked.

McDougall Program
This short-term plan, popularized in the book McDougall Program for Maximum Weight Loss (NAL/Dutton) by John A. McDougall, M.D., is high in some fruits as well as starches such as beans, corn, potatoes and rice.

The carbohydrate/protein/fat ratio is not itemized, but I would classify it as 80 to 90 percent carbohydrates and only 10 to 20 percent protein and fat. There is no doubt that anyone following this program will quickly lose weight. For most, this diet is a way to get off junk food and highly processed foods. Like Ornish, McDougall also focuses on perceived toxic effects of animal products. Without these foods the diet becomes a cleansing diet as well.

I would call this extreme plan a food-phobic diet. Although most diets tout the benefits of calorie restriction, this program is severe and could lead to lean wasting and other complications. Endocrine-system dysfunction, for example, may occur because of the low amounts of essential fatty acids, which can create hormonal imbalances.11 Lean wasting occurs when lean muscle mass is lost rather than fat.

In addition, many people in my clinic who have tried the McDougall program became bored with the food restrictions, and gained the weight back shortly after discontinuing the program. This eating plan also lacks some essential amino acids and essential fatty acids.

However, this diet could be appropriate for five to seven days. It would help a person make smarter food choices and eliminate highly processed foods.

High Fat, High Protein, Low Carbs
A low-fat diet will shed body fat, right? Not so, according to the Atkins diet, which says obesity exists for metabolic reasons, and bypassing carbohydrates is the proper path to weight loss.

The Atkins Diet
Developed by Robert Atkins, M.D., and detailed in the book Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution (Avon Books), this program encourages weight loss and health gain through a process called ketosis, which basically forces the body to use stored body fat as fuel rather than metabolized carbohydrates from the daily diet.

The premise of this diet is to eat a lot of fat and protein and very few carbohydrates, which puts the body in a state of ketosis and thereby increases metabolism, decreases hunger and balances blood sugar.

Initially, protein and fat ratios are approximately 95 percent and carbohydrates are only 5 percent. This is called the induction phase, and it lasts about two to four weeks. Once adequate weight loss is achieved, a maintenance level is begun and ratios change to 75 to 85 percent protein and fat and 15 to 25 percent carbohydrates.

Studies show a "significant" energy-level increase and weight decrease among people following the Atkins diet.12 It also seems to balance blood sugar in diabetics and hypoglycemics.13 The plan shows beneficial results with insulin and glucose balance by reducing carbohydrate consumption and increasing protein and fat consumption.

Some experts and practitioners, however, question the excessive amounts of fat and protein recommended. Most people, though, could benefit by eating fewer refined carbohydrates.14 Even so, high protein can cause its own set of problems such as impaired kidney function.15 Atkins believes the diet is safe as long as a person's creatinine blood levels (a measure of kidney disease) stay below 3.0 (1.2 is considered normal), but he recommends anyone following the diet be monitored by a physician. Constipation often results from insufficient plant fiber from grains, fruits and vegetables, so a fiber supplement is suggested.

I disagree with Atkins' theory that "almost any fat will do," because healthier fats and oils do not increase the risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease and arthritis. This diet does, notably, steer away from more artificial fats such as margarine. Finally, because the diet calls for large quantities of protein from meat, this is clearly not a plan for vegetarians.

The Diet For You
Especially in the next 20 years, baby boomers concerned about degenerative diseases and aging may start thinking about eating well and taking better care of themselves.

Remember that each person is unique. Bioindividuality is key in any diet plan and not all techniques work for everyone. Every diet has its success stories as well as its critics. Ultimately, the only thing that counts for each person is results. Perhaps the best advice for those who wish to eat well, especially those with specific health concerns, is to work with a qualified health care practitioner.

Regardless, the basics still apply: Eat a balanced diet of fresh, wholesome foods including carbohydrates, protein and proper fats; supplement appropriately; and get plenty of daily exercise — something you like and even love to do, so you'll stick with it. In the end, we need to eat and do what makes us feel good.

Monika Klein, C.N., runs a nutritional counseling practice in Malibu, Calif., and is the television host of Total Health Talk.
 


References

1. Mourant L. Blood groups, disease and selection and anthropology. Oxford(UK): Oxford University Press; 1983.

2. Sheppard PM. Blood groups and natural selection. Brit Med Bull 1959;15:132-9.

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