Author extolls virtues of ‘SuperFoods’ | AspenTimes.com

Author extolls virtues of ‘SuperFoods’

Naomi Havlen

It’s so easy to sit in a lecture hall in the early evening and nod along with a doctor extolling the benefits of eating broccoli, salmon and whole grains.But making the choice to live a healthier life is a different matter when standing in the supermarket or ordering from a menu chock-full of cream sauces. Dr. Steven Pratt, an ophthalmologist from the San Diego area who spoke Monday evening at the Aspen Given Institute, wouldn’t disagree about this dichotomy between practicing and preaching.But Pratt has armed himself with plenty of research into the best foods to eat that help you avoid disease and improve how your body works, mentally and physically. He published his first book, “SuperFoods Rx,” in 2003, listing 14 different cream-of-the-crop foods to eat regularly for optimal health.It’s the sort of book Americans love – an overview of specific instructions for eating that’s easy to follow and full of variety. Additionally, Pratt’s intensive research has narrowed down these 14 foods as perennial winners when it comes to healthy living and disease prevention. Pratt chose foods that nutritionists won’t suddenly vilify (like eggs for their cholesterol content, not long ago.)In other words, Pratt’s research is not based on fads or current diet trends. In fact, he loves to tell people what they should be eating rather than point out what foods they should avoid. Last year, he arrived in Aspen to give a presentation on his 14 different SuperFoods, and on Monday he was back with even more.His new book, “SuperFoods HealthStyle: Proven Strategies for Lifelong Health,” not only lists nine new SuperFoods, but delves into smart ways to improve health. Pratt, however, proves these claims with medical facts.Chronic lack of sleep, for example, can lead to a “natural drunk” state that sounds like an easy high until you realize that decision-making becomes impaired, response times are increased and the chronically-sleepy produce less leptin, a hormone that regulates your appetite and metabolism. Sleeping less often results in overeating.Exercise is another no-brainer, but Pratt is extremely practiced in persuading people to exercise regularly because it boosts the immune system, decreases blood pressure, prevents cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, and reduces the frailty of old age.As he likes to say, his strategies in “SuperFoods HealthyStyle” will ensure sailing “right on to 60 and 70 and 80, still playing tennis, still gardening and still enjoying the spring sun on your face.”Pratt said he is trying to combat alarming trends in current culture, like large portions and an excess amount of spending on fad diet books. His own recommendations sound like common sense, like striving to get some exercise every day and decreasing portion size.”SuperFoods is the nondiet diet,” he said.His new book adds kiwis, dark chocolate (while limiting intake and eating chocolate with at least 70 percent cocoa solids), pomegranates, garlic, avocados and cinnamon to the list of beneficial foods.Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is nhavlen@aspentimes.com