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Basic Food as Medicine

Posted Aug 11 2012 5:30am

I had the privilege of speaking with Joe and Terry Graedon, founders of The People’s Pharmacy, on their syndicated NPR show ( free p odcast here)  broadcast today)!, about how we’re trying to make your health and health care awesome with the right food.

Their questions made me think about why it’s so important to help people wherever they are starting.

For example, I love farmer’s markets. I give market tours, I know many farmers personally, I created a PBS DVD library on how to eat healthy  (available for a donation to PBS , which I support) and I love to cook locally grown foods.

But most people buy food shipped into supermarkets, and are worried and time-pressed about cooking.

So it’s become more important to me to show how to buy and cook any broccoli , even bad broccoli (as Mark Bittman writes) than to search out the most pristine, tight head. Or to explore the wonders of the youngest broccosprouts (highest in sulforphane, and patented by Johns Hopkins).

Getting people to cook more–and people are catching up and catching on–is the key to helping them lose weight. Especially men .

So if you were going to stock a kitchen medicine chest, like the one I describe in the ChefMD book , and you wanted just 10 foods instead of the 50 I name, what would they be and why? Here are mine:

Broccoli: detoxify carcinogens, reduce estrogen levels

Chilies: faster metabolism, better control of diabetes

Dark Chocolate: lower blood pressure, improve insulin sensitivity

Cinnamon: lower LDL cholesterol, improve insulin sensitivity

Fish: fewer heart attacks, fewer strokes

Garlic: less stomach, colon and rectal cancer; lower blood pressure

Nuts: lower cholesterol, improve satiety

Walnuts: protect brain cells, protect interior arterial linings against junk food

Wine (sensibly): raise HDL (healthy) cholesterol, reduce risk of heart attack, peptic ulcer disease

Yogurt: lower risk of antibiotic related diarrhea; reduce irritable bowel syndrome symptoms

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