A plant-based diet can do more than keep you healthy and improve your mood—it boosts brainpower too, if the experience of 23-year-old Swedish student Jonas Von Essen is any example. On Dec. 14, for the second year in a row, Von Essen won the World Memory Championship, a competition that attracts entrants from dozens of countries who complete a wide range of mental challenges. One of his most impressive feats included memorizing 26 packs of cards in one hour. Von Essen has followed a plant-based diet for several years, helping him through both his victory this year in China and in the 2013 competition in the U.K.
How does a vegan diet help the brain? Meat and other animal products contain saturated fat, which rapidly increases blood viscosity (“thickness”). The result, apparently, is diminished blood flow and poorer oxygenation. Plant foods provide beneficial antioxidants that can improve your health and lower your cholesterol, increasing the blood flow to your brain.
Endurance athletes have used vegan diets for many years, and those aiming for maximal cognitive function may want to choose them as well.
For more information on how a plant-based diet can boost brainpower and improve memory, visit PowerFoodsfortheBrain.org.
Remember the old “Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner” advertisements? Those were sponsored by the beef checkoff program.
Red meat production and sales have declined as the public has become increasingly aware of the link between meat consumption and chronic disease. For consumer health, this is progress. However, the USDA is now proposing a new “checkoff” program to allocate additional funds—potentially totaling $160 million—towards the promotion and marketing of beef in 2015. And since the USDA also issues national dietary recommendations, this creates a clear conflict of interest.
Beef is bad for your health. Physicians, researchers, and medical organizations clearly state the consequences of eating red meat. Harvard University has published numerous studies associating meat consumption with chronic disease. The World Health Organization notes the correlation between meat and colorectal and prostate cancers in its dietary recommendations. The American Heart Association published findings saying that women who had two servings per day of red meat had a 30 percent higher risk of developing coronary heart disease. Physicians Committee researchers found that eating meat is a risk factor for diabetes. The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends reducing and removing red and processed meat, as does the American Cancer Society. Even government officials in the United Kingdom have been clear in their recommendations to British citizens to cut red meat consumption.
However, the USDA has remained ambiguous when discussing red meat. In the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, the USDA recommended reducing saturated fat and cholesterol intake—neglecting to mention that a sirloin steak overloads your arteries with 155 percent of your daily maximum intake of saturated fat and 152 percent of your daily maximum cholesterol.
The USDA is accepting public comments on the proposed checkoff program until Dec. 10. Click here to take action by submitting your comments to the USDA.
Want to know more about the research? Check out this sample of studies from just the past two years linking red meat and chronic disease:
Red and Processed Meats Increase Risk of Bladder Cancer
Red Meat in Childhood Increases Risk for Breast Cancer
Breast Cancer Linked to Eating Red Meat
Iron in Meat Linked to Heart Disease
Even Modest Amounts of Meat Increase Risk for Diabetes
Meat-Eating is a Risk Factor for Developing Diabetes
Red and Processed Meat Endangers Health
Many Ways Meat Causes Colon Cancer
Red and Processed Meat Products Linked to Mortality
Cutting Out Meat Boosts Heart Attack Victims’ Chance of Survival
Red and Processed Meat Linked to Death for Colorectal Cancer Patients
Researchers Discover New Way Meat Causes Heart Disease
More Evidence That Red and Processed Meats Are Deadly
A recent question in The New York Times Well blog created some confusion by asking how many eggs you can (or should) eat. The answer was not eggs-actly correct.
Since one egg has the same amount of cholesterol as a Big Mac, it is unnecessary—even detrimental to your health—to consume eggs or egg products. One egg has more cholesterol than your body needs. In fact, any added dietary cholesterol is unnecessary because our bodies already produce more than the amount we require. An excess of cholesterol leads to heart disease, so it’s no surprise that a 2010 study in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology found that those who consume the most eggs have a 19 percent increased risk for cardiovascular problems.
What The New York Times blog fails to explain is that eating an occasional egg might not increase health risks for people already eating a high-fat, high-cholesterol diet—just as smoking an occasional cigar might not increase health risks for people already smoking cigarettes. But if people are already eating a healthful diet without any added dietary cholesterol, eggs can contribute to many problems in addition to heart disease. Recent studies in Atherosclerosis and the International Journal of Cancer show that egg consumption can also cause diabetes and even cancer.
The misperception surrounding the necessity of eggs has even spread to the courtroom. Unilever is suing Hampton Creek Foods for using the term “mayo” in relation to its egg-free Just Mayo condiment. The argument is that “mayonnaise” is defined as an egg-based product. However, removing the egg from mayonnaise also removes the cholesterol, a win-win. The lawsuit seems to be backfiring for Unilever by helping people realize that there are more healthful alternatives to Hellmann’s mayonnaise.
No matter what you call it, egg-free is the better option.
For more information about egg consumption and health, read and share our fact sheet: http://www.pcrm.org/pdfs/health/Nutrition-Fact-Sheets/Eggs-fact-sheet.pdf