Doctor: SuperFoods to the rescue | AspenTimes.com

Doctor: SuperFoods to the rescue

Naomi Havlen

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Dr. Steven Pratt is a fast talker, but he has to be to extol all the virtues of 14 foods he calls “SuperFoods” in about an hour.Pratt is an ophthalmologist and author of the book “SuperFoods Rx: Fourteen Foods That Will Change Your Life,” which lists foods high in vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients with medicinal properties. Each food on his list has been proven to prevent some sort of disease, promote nutrition and control weight, and each can be found at local supermarkets.So it shouldn’t be surprising that a sold-out crowd hung on Pratt’s every word Friday night as he talked about his book at the Aspen Given Foundation. The highly anticipated list is: beans, blueberries, broccoli, oats, oranges, pumpkin, wild salmon, soy, spinach, tea, tomatoes, skinless turkey breast, walnuts and yogurt.Plenty of people eat some of these foods every day – but Pratt would have people eat all of these foods on a very regular basis. He points out that in the last century, this country’s dietary patterns included lots of “simple carbohydrates” like soda, white flour in baked goods and potatoes; low fruit and vegetable consumption; too much trans fat in baked goods and meat from grain-fed and fattened cows, pigs and chickens.Two-thirds of Americans are obese, he said, and since you only have one body to take care of, it’s good to think about disease prevention when you select food to eat. He included serving suggestions when listing his SuperFoods, like eating a half-cup serving of beans four times a week to help control weight, get protein and lower the risk of heart disease while lowering cholesterol.One to two cups of blueberries every day can preserve mental acuteness, a half-cup of broccoli several times a week can boost your immune system and lower the risk of multiple kinds of cancer, five to seven servings per day of whole grains can help you feel full while staying low in calories.The list of benefits goes on and on: Almost all of the foods lower the risks of getting various kinds of cancer, lower blood pressure and inflammation and keep skin healthy and more wrinkle-free, he said. The easiest foods to improve your health with are tea (four servings daily have no calories but lower the risk of heart attacks) and walnuts (a handful a day will help prevent Type II diabetes and lower risk of a cardiovascular event).Clearly, Pratt is all about promoting healthy foods, but when pressed he’ll tack on a list of foods to avoid that he once presented on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” Those 10 foods include doughnuts, white bread, soda, stick margarine, white pasta, full-fat dairy products, movie theater popcorn, luncheon meats, sugar-coated cereal, and bread with less than 3 grams of fiber per serving. Besides not offering many vitamins and nutrients, these foods won’t keep you feeling full so it’s easy to overindulge.Although the audience questioned Pratt on whether it’s necessary to buy organically grown products when choosing SuperFoods, he said he’s more interested in getting people to eat these foods in the first place. Organic food can get expensive, he said.”I don’t want to lose some people because they can’t afford the food,” he said. “But if you’ve got the money to go organic, do it.”But a bigger key to staying healthy and preventing disease doesn’t have to do with food at all, Pratt said, it’s about exercise.”No matter how good your food is, if you don’t exercise you won’t get the most out of your food,” he said. He also includes watching alcohol intake, cutting out cigarettes, getting enough sleep and de-stressing in his equation for health. In fact, his next book will focus on these lifestyle choices that don’t have to do with food.Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is nhavlen@aspentimes.com

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