Five Foods to Fight Disease

May 19, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Millions of Americans are diagnosed with heart disease, osteoporosis, and osteoarthritis. But a few changes in your diet could prevent or even reverse some of the damage.At 67, Ina Jeffery knows she's at risk for osteoporosis.

"I am aware, quite aware. My mother had osteoporosis," Jeffery says.

Besides exercise, she's learned something else can make a big difference.

For 15 years, Dr. Bahram Arjmandi has studied how our bodies react to certain foods. His latest study followed Jeffery and more than 100 other women to see if bone density could be improved just by adding dried plums or prunes to their diet.

"I have never seen anything this consistent that not only prevents bone loss but increases bone mass," says Bahram H. Arjmandi, Ph.D., R.D., Professor/Chair of the Department of Nutrition, Food and Sciences at Florida State University in Tallahassee.

Prunes aren't the only power food. Research showed two apples, or about 75 grams of dried apple, a day can boost good cholesterol levels.

"We saw nearly 10-percent increase in good cholesterol or HDL cholesterol. That is almost unheard of," Dr. Arjmandi says.

Studies also showed two large slices, or about one pound, of watermelon a day can significantly increase circulation. And Canadian researchers found two to six teaspoons of flaxseed daily reduced plaque formation up to 40 percent.

"It's a miracle food," Dr. Arjmandi says.

More new research shows one ounce of soy per day significantly reduces symptoms of osteoarthritis. In one year, exercise plus 10 prunes a day improved Jeffery's bone density by more than three-percent.

"Most medications really don't do that, and I don't want to take medication for it," Jeffery says.

For anyone who wants to live a healthier life, it could be food for thought.

Dr. Arjmandi says the key to making these functional foods work in your diet is only eat what you can enjoy, so you can stick to the routine long-term.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
Shirin Hooshmand
Florida State University
Tallahassee, FL
(850) 645-7169
sh06c@fsu.edu


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