“The Power of Food as Healthy Medicine”



Most Americans have the luxury of viewing the enjoyment of food as important to their quality of life. At home they may enjoy the family time together at the dinner table. At a restaurant it may be about the ambiance and presentation of the meal. Changing these eating habits can be viewed with apprehension. It need not be so.

The nutritious foods we advocate can be flavorful and eaten as much and as often as you desire. Eating them can be just as satisfying an experience as consuming much less healthful foods. With a little patience and willingness to try new dishes, you can come to enjoy this way of eating.
Beyond that, how you and your family approach the overall experience of food has a significant effect on your cardiovascular health. The gathering, preparation and relaxed eating of nutritious food is a vastly underappreciated risk factor for complications of atherosclerotic artery disease. Those with active family lives in this regard enjoy a much lower risk than of those without.

Few medical therapies can approach the effectiveness of close family ties and psychosocial support in preventing heart attack and stroke. The large INTERHEART Study published in 2004 demonstrated that such factors were more predictive of heart attack and stroke than high blood pressure, exercise and obesity. Fifty years ago this was known as the “Roseto Effect”, named for a close-knit family community in Pennsylvania which enjoyed a 33% lower death rate and 42% lower heart attack rate than its neighbors. That advantage was lost over two decades as the community “modernized”. More recently Dan Buettner’s work for National Geographic and his “Blue Zones” books document the importance of close community and family life plus a plant based lifestyle in achieving longevity.

Daylong time stress too often extends to food and eating patterns. Our hectic, overcommitted lifestyles are damaging our cardiovascular health. We eat on the run, consuming fast food, take out or microwaved products and avoid thinking about the nutritional value of what we gulp down. It is little wonder that this eating pattern has done so much damage.

So slow down. Turn off the TV and your mobile devices. Spend time with family or friends around mealtimes. Choose to enjoy eating and everything about food in your life.