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Key Foods/Nutrients/Substances

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Hi folks:
 
With this post I am hoping to start a thread on the subject of foods/nutrients/substances members believe we ought to make a special point of consuming on a "regular" basis.  But before providing a list, first I would like to suggest several guidelines as to what I perceive the thread might be about:
 
A)  In this context "regular" will likely mean different frequencies for different substances:  In some cases it might mean daily (B12?); in others weekly; and perhaps in some cases monthly would be adequate (largish doses of vitamin D3, for example?).
  
B)  I am unsure whether this topic merits a capitalized subject line.  Nor do I have the definitive, perfect title for it - suggestions welcome.  But I do expect/hope people will continue to add to it over time as more information comes to light from ongoing research findings.
 
C)  I do NOT mean this topic to cover what we all know and recognize to be overall desirable nutrition:  We already well know that in general it is better for health and longevity to consume a low calorie mostly-plant-based diet of fruits, vegetables and perhaps whole grains, along with a modest quantity of carefully selected animal products - of which fish might be the most obvious example.  This is well understood by everyone here, I think, and it is extensively discussed in other threads.  This thread would instead be for special cases of foods and other substances believed to have specific, special health attributes.
 
D)  When a suggestion is made it may be helpful to indicate an appropriate frequency of consumption and quantity, and the reason for the substance's inclusion in the list  (for example, one of my suggestions is:  PRUNES  //  two  //  daily  //  bone quality.)
 
E)  My motivation in starting this thread is entirely selfish.  While I will start with a list of items - appended below - I believe probably belong on such a list, I am really looking forward to seeing others post about items I haven't considered, as well as criticism (ridicule?!) of some of those I have suggested.
 
F)  Of course, we cannot expect ever to come up with a list everyone can agree about, but it might be nice to eventually develop a 'current' list agreed on by most people.  Or perhaps two lists?  One of items no one cares to dispute, and another of items suggested by some members but disagreed with, sometimes perhaps rather strongly, by others (cod liver oil might be an example of the latter?).
 
So, with the above preliminaries out of the way, here is my list to start the ball rolling (I am hoping the list will have at least tripled in size a couple of months from now):
 
Substance  //  Quantity  //  Frequency  //  Purpose
========      ======       ========      =======
B12  //  Tiny amount  //  Daily  //  Deficiency can be disastrous, source only animal products.
TURMERIC  //  modest quantity in food  //  weekly  //  Google 'curcumin'
GARLIC  //  one or more cloves  //  daily  //  search archives
POMEGRANATE  //  50 mls juice  //  daily  //  antioxidants
CHESTNUTS  //  one roasted // daily  //  see discussion (Dean).  Powerful nutrients; negligible fat
ASPIRIN  //  one small coated, with food  //  daily  //  multiple benefits / also risks
NATTO //  50g  //  weekly  //  decalcifies arteries; good for bone strength
TEA (CAMELLIA SINENSIS) - green and black  //  a few cups  //  daily  //  multiple apparent benefits
OAT BRAN  //  2 tbsp, in soup  //  daily  //  soluble fiber without all the calories in oats
WHEAT BRAN  //  2 tbsp  //  daily  //  insoluble fiber from whole grains without the calories
BERRIES  //  plenty  //  daily  //  may have more benefits than other fruits
COCOA POWDER (unsweetened, fat-free?) //  1 tsp added to food  //  daily  //  multiple benefits 
............................
 
Rodney.
 
===========
 

"The unverified conventional wisdom is almost invariably mistaken."

Edited by nicholson

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Rodney,

 

Great idea, and great list! Here are a few comments / suggestions.

 

First, a bit of a overall criticism of your list so far. It has a combination of food categories (e.g. berries), specific individual foods (e.g. garlic), food components (e.g oat bran, cocoa powder), isolated supplements (e.g. B12) and pharmaceuticals (aspirin).  That is quite a mix! I might suggest leaving off the last two categories (supplements & pharmaceuticals). I suggest leaving off pharmaceuticals in general (too broad a category, and too disease-specific) and aspirin in particular, given CR folks' low risk of heart disease and the increased risk of bleeding disorders associated with aspirin use. 

 

Regarding supplements, perhaps it would be better just to have a blanket statement at the beginning of the list saying people should avoid deficiency for all the standard micronutrients (e.g. listed in CRON-O-Meter) preferably from food, or supplements if foods aren't an option for some reason. B12 (for example) is only really an issue for vegans or near vegans, and really only a subset of those who don't eat fortified foods. If commonly deficient micronutrients like B12 are going to be included, the following should definitely be added: selenium, iodine, vitamin D, (controversially) DHA/EPA. But then what about "second tier" supplements that might be particularly relevant for CR folks, like bone-builders like strontium and vitamin K2 (assuming people won't eat natto)?

 

Regarding food categories - I agree that berries are great. But lots of fruit and veggies subcategories have special benefits. Cruciferous vegetables. Allium vegetables (which includes garlic). Citrus fruit. And what about the category of "nuts" if you're going to include berries?

 

Regarding specific foods you've listed - I'm not sure I'm ready to go to bat for chestnuts yet. They look good on paper, but I'm suspicious that they aren't endorsed or eaten by long-term CR folks, like Michael Rae. I'm still waiting for the "gotcha" on this one. Plus, I'm pretty sure that just one chestnut per day isn't going to do too much for one's health.

 

If you're going to include tea, there is no reason to exclude coffee, whose health benefits seem to at least rival tea. 

 

Tomato products (preferably cooked) deserve to be on the list for lycopene and other carotenoids. So do the 'orange' carotenoid-rich foods like carrots, sweet potatoes, or squash. I'm also quite favorably inclined to purple potatoes - for their unusual color, and therefore antioxidants. 

 

Sprouts - especially broccoli sprouts, are a superfood worth including IMO.

 

If you're going to include the two brans (oat and wheat) for their fiber - you might include psyllium husks (my preferred source of 'soluble' fiber), and what about a resistance starch source - like plantain flour or potato starch?

 

What about legumes? Great for soluble fiber, vegan protein, and IIRC they were the one food common to all the Blue Zones. If your going to break them out, my top picks are black beans, chickpeas and lentils.

 

Some would swear by olive oil, although I prefer nuts for my EFAs and fat soluble phytochemicals.

 

 

I'm a fan of raw ginger which I eat daily in small quantities for its multiple benefits and antioxidants.

 

Red cabbage has a particularly high antioxidant "bang for the buck", both wrt to calories and especially cost.

 

 

As for pomegranate - For me the whole fruit (i.e. seeds) is preferred, with juice coming in second. 

 

Walnuts and especially flax seeds for omega-3 fatty acids seem worth including specifically, in addition to nuts and seeds as worthwhile categories.

 

Beets are especially rich in antioxidants and nitrites, which help the cardiovascular system and make you run 5% faster!

 

Soy products (e.g. tofu) is likely too controversial for inclusion. Natto may be controversial as well, not just for its taste/texture but because it is a soy product, and perhaps because of its potency.

 

Avocados are a great source of MUFA, for those who want to avoid the very calorie dense sources in nuts and oils.

 

Those are my initial thoughts, to get/keep the ball rolling!

 

--Dean

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All:

I think this is an excellent thread topic, tho' I agree with most of Dean's suggestions for narrowing its focus:
 

I might suggest leaving off the last two categories (supplements & pharmaceuticals) ... and aspirin in particular, given CR folks' low risk of heart disease and the increased risk of bleeding disorders associated with aspirin use .... B12 (for example) is only really an issue for vegans or near vegans


Agree with all of this.

My own list of such foods is posted with my post on my quotidian diet:
 

I also make sure to incorporate specific foods that have been documented in long-term, well-designed prospective epidemiological studies or clinical trials to reduce the risk or improve the outcomes in actual diseases or mortality: short-term results using unvalidated surrogate markers don't count at all, and even results with well-validated disease risk factors (glycemia, blood lipoproteins, etc) must be treated with some caution and do not meet this bar when taken in isolation. On the list: raw vegetables; leafy greens; cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, mustard greens, cabbage, etc); Allium vegetables (onions, garlic, etc); carrots; green vegetables; citrus (including the peel -- but eat organic and wash thoroughly); cooked tomatoes; nuts; green tea; coffee; moderate (3-10 oz/d) wine, taken with a meal.

Another food that is definitely on my "must-consume" list is real extra-virgin olive oil (outright fraud is rampant in the olive oil industry -- I have a zillion other links on this, and the author now has a whole book). The official chemical standards for extra-virgin olive oil per the International Olive Association (similar to the USDA and identical to the North American Olive Oil Association (NAOOA) (significance of each explained here and here), but this is a very low bar aesthetically and for your health based on what is achievable with modern miling methods. [see more in this post on targets and sourcing]. ...

High-cocoa, undutched chocolate (or defatted cocoa products, as in Bingeing Brownies (scroll down for the recipe; also note that this is a "sometimes food") would be on the list, were it not for worries about Parkinson's disease and heavy metals from chocolate (the dead-link news story on Goldman's study is here). Unfortunately, the study was greatly underpowered, and so was never submitted for formal publication; and while Dr. Goldman initially expressed interest in following up his preliminary result in a larger twin study, but has been unable to secure the funding to do so. [There has been some very minor additional evidence since this was posted].


On weaker evidence (one study, albeit a very large and well-designed-looking one (1)), I have just recently added on fresh hot chili peppers. Hopefully, this provocative finding will be replicated in other populations: the enrichment of Latino Americans in the MESA study would seem to be an ideal population in which to test it, if as I would expect they collected data on chili pepper consumption. I take in 10-12 g most days in a single meal, mostly because that's all my delicate constitution can handle ;) .

Also on weaker evidence, legumes (I've in practice been eating generous quantities of legumes pretty much daily since I've been on CR, but basically as a portable source of veg(etari)an protein; I've only recently began considering them a "health food" in and of themselves).
 

TURMERIC // modest quantity in food // weekly // Google 'curcumin'


... and you'll come up with a lot of rank nonsense ;) . Almost nothing that has been said about turmeric or curcumin has been validated in vivo, still less in normal mammals, and nearly nothing in humans — not even epidemiology: when you dig down into the few such studies on 'curries,' they aren't usually even on turmeric-based Indian curries but completely different spice blends from South Asia and the Pacific Islands. Sufficient quantities of curcumin (at levels too high to be obtained from turmeric) seem to lower TG, but (a) there are no long-term outcome studies, (b) the mechanism is unknown, and © CR people (even those on pretty high-carb diets) almost uniformly have very low TG.
 

POMEGRANATE // 50 mls juice // daily // antioxidants


Why should one give a flying flip about "antioxidants"?
 

CHESTNUTS // one roasted // daily // see discussion (Dean). Powerful nutrients; negligible fat


I'd agree that their phenolic content (posted here by Dean from PMID: 26148924, originally posted by Al Pater) is impressive, but we don't know much about the specifics of those phenolics nor about their bioavailability or biological effects; nor do we have any specific long-term studies. Does anyone indeed even know of any short-term ones?

The fact that it has negligible fat is a point against them: the unsaturated fat content of most nuts is one of the more obvious reasons why they're beneficial. Certainly their lack of fat makes them deviants from the 'nuts' class, and makes me suspicious of using them as part of one's "nut"-category daily allotment.

When one looks at the real health outcome data on nuts as a class (from epidemiology or the PREDIMED trial), one is overwhelmingly seeing data for almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, and generally peanuts; I expect that almost no one in those studies consumes substantial amounts of chestnuts year-round. A daily regimen of "nuts" should conservatively focus on the widely-consumed kinds IMO.
 

Plus, I'm pretty sure that just one chestnut per day isn't going to do too much for one's health.


No, but if you're going to eat eg. 28 g/1 oz nuts/day, and if you thought chestnuts were an appropriate contributor to the category-wide target (again, I don't), 8 g would make an entirely respectable contribution. I eat >40 g nuts/d myself, very largely as hazelnuts, but 1 oz/d strikes me as a reasonable target based on the epidemiology, and would fit better into a low-fat diet or for people with lower Calorie targets.
 

ASPIRIN // one small coated, with food // daily // multiple benefits / also risks


Here I agree with Dean that the risk:benefit for aspirin is likely too high for its use by CR folk.
 

NATTO // 50g // weekly // decalcifies arteries; good for bone strength


I think you're referring to its K2 content. This doesn't "decalcify" arteries, tho' there's pretty good evidence that it retards the ongoing process of calcification.
 

COCOA POWDER (unsweetened, fat-free?) // 1 tsp added to food // daily // multiple benefits


See above.
 

Regarding food categories - I agree that berries are great. But lots of fruit and veggies subcategories have special benefits. Cruciferous vegetables. Allium vegetables (which includes garlic). Citrus fruit. And what about the category of "nuts" if you're going to include berries?


I think food categories are entirely appropriate in those cases where the evidence supports it, which includes all of the examples you give here, Dean.
 

If you're going to include tea, there is no reason to exclude coffee, whose health benefits seem to at least rival tea.


Agreed broadly, tho' ISTM that the cancer benefits (other than hepatic, and at sufficiently high-dose) are much more strongly supported for green tea than for coffee.

IAC, I don't think Rodney meant to exclude coffee (or cruciferous vegetables, Allium vegetables, citrus, or cooked tomato products (all of which are def'ly on my list).
 

Sprouts - especially broccoli sprouts, are a superfood worth including IMO.


Why, aside from their generally high micronutrient content?
 

If you're going to include the two brans (oat and wheat) for their fiber - you might include psyllium husks (my preferred source of 'soluble' fiber), and what about a resistance starch source - like plantain flour or potato starch?


The difference, I would say, is that there is good epidemiology on "whole grain" intake, and it's plausible that the fibers in these whole grains are a significant part of the reason for the observation (if it's not merely a substitution effect for white bread and other refined carbs). This would then largely be wheat and oat brans, and not psyllium, plantain, or potato fibers.
 

Some would swear by olive oil, although I prefer nuts for my EFAs and fat soluble phytochemicals.


While I have a love-hate relationship with Michael Pollan (unlike Michael Greger, with whom I have an hate-hate relationship ;) ), I do think you're here somewhat falling into what he calls "nutritionism," focusing a little too much on isolated nutrients at the expense of whole foods. I say "a little," because of course nuts are also healthy whole foods and are rightly on your, my, and Rodney's Key Foods lists, but still: there is extensive, powerful animal, human epidemiological, and now even short- and long-term large-scale randomized controlled trial data backing the benefits of EVOO, with extensive evidence internal to that body that the documented benefits of EVOO could be further improved by selection of high-oleic, high-phenolic, ultra-minimally-oxidized, fresh oils rather than whatever junk that minimally passed IOC muster two years ago is sitting on the local supermarket shelf. It really beats the pants over (almost?) anything else you can name as actually delivering health benefits.
 

I'm a fan of raw ginger which I eat daily in small quantities for its multiple benefits and antioxidants.


What actual benefits, aside from a short-term antinauseant effect?
 

Red cabbage has a particularly high antioxidant "bang for the buck", both wrt to calories and especially cost.


Pish tosh, 'antioxidants' ;) . Their absolute and bioavailable glucosinolates are lower than the standard crucifer of record (broccoli), and I for one only really like red cabbage raw, whereas for ideal release and bioavailability of the hydrolysis products one really wants to lightly steam (1 minute) or microwave (<2 min, tho' ideal protocol esp. with real microwaves unclear, tho' I live on teh wild side ;) and microwave at 60% power).
 

Walnuts and especially flax seeds for omega-3 fatty acids seem worth including specifically, in addition to nuts and seeds as worthwhile categories.


In the abstract I would agree, tho' in practice for me getting substantial n3 from walnuts entails too much n6 granted my other fat sources. Of course, you (Dean) are for the moment consuming very little fat, which presumably mitigates against this.
 

Beets are especially rich in antioxidants and nitrites, which help the cardiovascular system and make you run 5% faster!


Antioxidants-shmantioxidants, again; no really specific health benefits AFAIK. they're also too high-Calorie/sugar for my taste, but overall diet matters. The nitrates are certainly interesting and favorable, tho'.

 

References
1: Lv J, Qi L, Yu C, Yang L, Guo Y, Chen Y, Bian Z, Sun D, Du J, Ge P, Tang Z, Hou W, Li Y, Chen J, Chen Z, Li L; China Kadoorie Biobank Collaborative Group. Consumption of spicy foods and total and cause specific mortality: population based cohort study. BMJ. 2015 Aug 4;351:h3942. doi: 10.1136/bmj.h3942. PubMed PMID: 26242395; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4525189. (See also the Rapid Response by Prof. Nicholas D Moore).

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Michael wrote (regarding my suggestion of including sprouts, esp. broccoli sprouts):

 

Why, aside from their generally high micronutrient content?

 

Gram-for-gram, broccoli sprouts are much higher in sulphoraphane than broccoli. Here is a good Nutritionfacts.org video on the benefits of sulphoraphane, and below are Dr. Greger's references. You are obviously well aware of (it seems to me) well-documented health benefits of broccoli sprouts - so what's the catch? What makes you dubious about their health benefits?

 

But overall - point well taken on the dubious benefits attributed to the general category of 'antioxidants', sprinkled throughout your comments.

 

Of course, you (Dean) are for the moment consuming very little fat, which presumably mitigates against this.

 

It turns out that the low-fat nature of my diet has been greatly exaggerated :)xyz , as I documented at the bottom of this post where I was finally prompted by James (thanks James!) to crunch the numbers via CRON-O-Meter. My macronutrients are very close to 58% carbs, 33% fat, and 9% protein.

 

--Dean

 

 

Broccoli Sprout References:

J D Clarke, A Hsu, K Riedl, D Bella, S J Schwartz, J F Stevens, E Ho. Bioavailability and inter-conversion of sulforaphane and erucin in human subjects consuming broccoli sprouts or broccoli supplement in a cross-over study design. Pharmacol Res 2011 64(5):456 – 463.

Y I Yashin, B V Nemzer, V Y Ryzhnev, A Y Yashin, N I Chernousova, P A Fedina. Creation of a databank for content of antioxidants in food products by an amperometric method. Molecules 2010 15(10):7450 – 7466.

Y Gu, Q Guo, L Zhang, Z Chen, Y Han, Z Gu. Physiological and biochemical metabolism of germinating broccoli seeds and sprouts. J Agric Food Chem 2012 60(1):209 – 213.

Y Li, T Zhang. Targeting cancer stem cells with sulforaphane, a dietary component from broccoli and broccoli sprouts. Future Oncol 2013 9(8):1097 – 1103.

Z Bahadoran, P Mirmiran, F Hosseinpanah, M Hedayati, S Hosseinpour-Niazi, F Azizi. Broccoli sprouts reduce oxidative stress in type 2 diabetes: A randomized double-blind clinical trial. Eur J Clin Nutr 2011 65(8):972 – 977.

P Mirmiran. Effects of broccoli sprout with high sulforaphane concentration on inflammatory markers in type 2 diabetic patients: A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. J Funct Foods 2012 4:837 – 841.

Z Bahadoran, M Tohidi, P Nazeri, M Mehran, F Azizi, P Mirmiran. Effect of broccoli sprouts on insulin resistance in type 2 diabetic patients: A randomized double-blind clinical trial. Int J Food Sci Nutr 2012 63(7):767 – 771.

Z Bahadoran, P Mirmiran, F Azizi. Potential efficacy of broccoli sprouts as a unique supplement for management of type 2 diabetes and its complications. J Med Food 2013 16(5):375 – 382.

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Michael wrote:

Rodney said: 
 
      NATTO // 50g // weekly // decalcifies arteries; good for bone strength
 
I think you're referring to its K2 content. This doesn't "decalcify" arteries, tho' there's pretty good evidence that it retards the ongoing process of calcification.

 

In defense of natto (and Rodney), it appears to me that K2 has been shown to improve arterial stiffness (not just retard the increase in stiffness that occurs over time) in at least one double blind, placebo controlled trial [1]. Now whether this arterial de-stiffening is a result of decalcification or not, is another question, but it seems to me somewhat irrelevant, since less stiff arteries seems like what we care about (although this is admittedly less of an issue for CR folks than other people).

 

And while I (may) have your attention Michael on the topic of natto, I know you're a busy guy so I can't expect you to engage in every conversation I try to lure you into  :)xyz, but I was disappointed you never responded to my reply here (and subsequent taunt here  :)xyz) to your skepticism about natto's ability to break up amyloid beta plaques in the brain via nattokinase, and hence benefit dementia and particularly Alzheimer's disease, which Rodney didn't mention (but I will) as a possible benefit of natto.

 

Does your silence on this topic signal acquiescence in the face of my forceful argument, or were you just too busy to respond?

 

--Dean

 

-----------

[1] Thromb Haemost. 2015 May;113(5):1135-44. doi: 10.1160/TH14-08-0675. Epub 2015 Feb

Menaquinone-7 supplementation improves arterial stiffness in healthy
postmenopausal women. A double-blind randomised clinical trial.

Knapen MH, Braam LA, Drummen NE, Bekers O, Hoeks AP, Vermeer C(1).

Author information:
(1)Cees Vermeer, PhD, VitaK, Maastricht University, Biopartner Center Maastricht,
Oxfordlaan 70, 6229 EV Maastricht, The Netherlands, Tel: +31 43 388 5865, Fax:
+31 43 388 5889, E-mail: c.vermeer@vitak.com.

Observational data suggest a link between menaquinone (MK, vitamin K2) intake and
cardiovascular (CV) health. However, MK intervention trials with vascular
endpoints are lacking. We investigated long-term effects of MK-7 (180 µg
MenaQ7/day) supplementation on arterial stiffness in a double-blind,
placebo-controlled trial. Healthy postmenopausal women (n=244) received either
placebo (n=124) or MK-7 (n=120) for three years. Indices of local carotid
stiffness (intima-media thickness IMT, Diameter end-diastole and Distension) were
measured by echotracking. Regional aortic stiffness (carotid-femoral and
carotid-radial Pulse Wave Velocity, cfPWV and crPWV, respectively) was measured
using mechanotransducers. Circulating desphospho-uncarboxylated matrix
Gla-protein (dp-ucMGP) as well as acute phase markers Interleukin-6 (IL-6),
high-sensitive C-reactive protein (hsCRP), tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and
markers for endothelial dysfunction Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule (VCAM),
E-selectin, and Advanced Glycation Endproducts (AGEs) were measured. At baseline
dp-ucMGP was associated with IMT, Diameter, cfPWV and with the mean z-scores of
acute phase markers (APMscore) and of markers for endothelial dysfunction
(EDFscore). After three year MK-7 supplementation cfPWV and the Stiffness Index
β significantly decreased in the total group, whereas distension, compliance,
distensibility, Young's Modulus, and the local carotid PWV (cPWV) improved in
women having a baseline Stiffness Index β above the median of 10.8.
MK-7
decreased dp-ucMGP by 50 % compared to placebo, but did not influence the markers
for acute phase and endothelial dysfunction. In conclusion, long-term use of MK-7
supplements improves arterial stiffness in healthy postmenopausal women,
especially in women having a high arterial stiffness.

PMID: 25694037

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Michael,

 

And another thing...

 

 If you're going to include the two brans (oat and wheat) for their fiber - you might include psyllium husks (my preferred source of 'soluble' fiber), and what about a resistance starch source - like plantain flour or potato starch?


The difference, I would say, is that there is good epidemiology on "whole grain" intake, and it's plausible that the fibers in these whole grains are a significant part of the reason for the observation (if it's not merely a substitution effect for white bread and other refined carbs). This would then largely be wheat and oat brans, and not psyllium, plantain, or potato fibers.

 

My main reason for including plantain flour and potato starch is their high content of resistant starch, which is known to benefit healthy, butyrate-producing gut bacteria, as discussed here and in this review paper [1].

 

While a lot of discussion in this thread is about how to maximize the level of resistant starch in traditional grains, rice and potatoes via specific protocols for heating and cooling - plantain flour and potato starch kick butt when it comes to resistant starch content, exactly as they are (i.e. raw, without special preparation methods). According to this table, Compared with oats, barley or whole wheat flour, plantain flour and potato starch have 3-10 times the resistant starch on a per gram basis. Given that potato starch and whole wheat flour have virtually identical calories per gram, and plantain flour has even fewer calories per gram, these two foods are much higher in RS than other whole grains on a per calorie basis as well. And this is for the grain sources in raw form - the cooked grains have much lower resistant starch levels, even after cooling.

 

So Michael are you skeptical of the value of resistant starch, or is there some other reason you would exclude these two foods richest in RS per calorie - plantain flour and potato starch, from your list of particularly beneficial functional foods?

 

--Dean

 

-----------

[1] Trends in Food Science & Technology Volume 13, Issue 8, August 2002, Pages 251–261

 

Resistant starch and “the butyrate revolution”
 
Fred Brouns, †, ‡, , Bernd Kettlitz‡, Eva Arrigoni§
 
Abstract
 
Early epidemiological studies indicated that populations that consume a high proportion of non-starch polysaccharide (NSP) dietary fibre (DF) in their daily diet suffer less from gastrointestinal diseases, in particular colorectal cancers, than populations that consume diets that are high in fat and protein but low in NSP fibre. In this respect, diet, by increasing the amount of vegetables and NSP DF's, has been suggested to contribute as much as 25–35% to risk reduction for colorectal cancer. A reduction of fat intake may further reduce the risk by 15–25%. Based on these observations, DF's and substances that are part of the fibre complex such as antioxidants, flavonoids, sulphur containing compounds and folate have been proposed as potentially protective agents against colon cancer. However, results from controlled prospective studies in which beta-carotene and vitamin E or isolated dietary fibres were given to high risk groups showed disappointing results. There are recent indications that the regular consumption of certain subclasses of highly fermentable dietary fibre sources result in gut associated immune and flora modulation as well as a significant production of short chain fatty acids. In vitro studies as well as animal studies indicate that in particular propionate and butyrate have the potential to support the maintenance of a healthy gut and to reduce risk factors that are involved in the development of gut inflammation as well as colorectal cancer. A suggestion put forward is that beneficial effects may be obtained in particular by the consumption of resistant starch (RS) because of the high yield of butyrate and propionate when fermented. These SCFA are the prime substrates for the energy metabolism in the colonocyte and they act as growth factors to the healthy epithelium. In normal cells butyrate has been shown to induce proliferation at the crypt base, enhancing a healthy tissue turnover and maintenance. In inflamed mucosa butyrate stimulates the regeneration of the diseased lining of the gut. In neoplastic cells butyrate inhibits proliferation at the crypt surface, the site of potential tumour development. Moreover, models of experimental carcinogenesis in animals have shown the potential to modify a number of metabolic actions and steps in the cell cycle in a way that early events in the cascade of cancer development may be counteracted while stages of progression may be slowed down. The present review highlights a number of these aspects and describes the metabolic and functional properties of RS and butyrate.

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Michael wrote (regarding my suggestion of including sprouts, esp. broccoli sprouts):

 

Why, aside from their generally high micronutrient content?

Gram-for-gram, broccoli sprouts are much higher in sulphoraphane than broccoli. ... You are obviously well aware of (it seems to me) well-documented health benefits of broccoli sprouts - so what's the catch? What makes you dubious about their health benefits?

I think perhaps we may have had a communication breakdown due to the way you phrased your original statement: "Sprouts - especially broccoli sprouts, are a superfood worth including IMO." As written, this means that sprouts as a class are a superfood, and broc sprouts are a particularly attractive member of the class. I don't see any reason to think that, and you haven't offered one here.

 

What you seem, from your followup, to have intended to say is rather "Cruciferous vegetables, especially broccoli sprouts, are a superfood worth including IMO." The epidemiology and experimental data certainly tend to support the former (though less consistently than one sometimes gets the impression, particularly in Western populations and in prospective studies), and I am "nutritionist" in the Pollan sense enough to agree that broc sprouts are a particularly attractive member of the class as to merit special attention (tho' the dose levels and frequencies associated with reduced risk in epidemiological studies seem to undermine the "nutritionist" premise). I'd be eating them myself, if they weren't stupid-expensive, perishable, prone to foodborne illness, and wastefully packaged when purchased, and in my experience as a Sprout House homesteader are too much of a PITA to grow — I assume YM actually does V, Dean, and/or you actually enjoy tending to them).

 

NATTO // 50g // weekly // decalcifies arteries; good for bone strength

I think you're referring to its K2 content. This doesn't "decalcify" arteries, tho' there's pretty good evidence that it retards the ongoing process of calcification.

In defense of natto (and Rodney), it appears to me that K2 has been shown to improve arterial stiffness (not just retard the increase in stiffness that occurs over time) in at least one double blind, placebo controlled trial [1]. Now whether this arterial de-stiffening is a result of decalcification or not, is another question, but it seems to me somewhat irrelevant, since less stiff arteries seems like what we care about (although this is admittedly less of an issue for CR folks than other people).

First, this trial is a good find, so thank you for posting it IAC. However, it's not at all clear that arterial calcification actually contributes to arterial stiffness: the two are pretty consistently correlated, but the direction of causality isn't clear (notably, inflammation related to local plaque can exacerbate both). So the fact that they found an improvement in the latter really doesn't tell us anything about the former. This may be "news you can use" that is irrelevant to the question at hand.

 

I would also say an understanding of the mechanism would be important IAC, as the mechanism might be one that is irrelevant or likely to be maxed out in CR people (such as by increasing NO availability). Here, they did go to some lengths to test (and ruled out) both endothelial dysfunction and circulating "AGE" (they don't actually tell you what they mean here, just saying it's an asssay from Cell Biolabs; this would appear from their website to be either CML, CEL, or methylglyoxal), but excluding those doesn't prove that decreased calcification occurred or was related to the improved elasticity). But, again, excluding those doesn't demonstrate reduced calcification as the mechanism.

 

was disappointed you never responded to my reply here (and subsequent taunt here :)xyz) to your skepticism about natto's ability to break up amyloid beta plaques in the brain via nattokinase, and hence benefit dementia and particularly Alzheimer's disease, which Rodney didn't mention (but I will) as a possible benefit of natto.

I did take note of that. I haven't had time to properly look into the additional studies you (diligently and helpfully!) dug up, and still haven't. But despite what the researchers say in teh extracts from teh rodent study you posted, they provided no evidence to support their apparent contention of (hard-to-believe) direct cleavage of brain Abeta by oral NK enzyme itself, as the original paper reported based on in vitro work: rather, what they actually report is an indirect effect of the supplement on Abeta metabolism via increasing the

expression of ADAM9 and ADAM10 (which wouldn't strictly break up Abeta, but generate alternative cleavage products from amyloid precursor protein (APP)).

 

If you're going to include the two brans (oat and wheat) for their fiber - you might include psyllium husks (my preferred source of 'soluble' fiber), and what about a resistance starch source - like plantain flour or potato starch?

The difference, I would say, is that there is good epidemiology on "whole grain" intake, and it's plausible that the fibers in these whole grains are a significant part of the reason for the observation (if it's not merely a substitution effect for white bread and other refined carbs). This would then largely be wheat and oat brans, and not psyllium, plantain, or potato fibers.

My main reason for including plantain flour and potato starch is their high content of resistant starch, which is known to benefit healthy, butyrate-producing gut bacteria, as discussed here and in this review paper [1].

 

While a lot of discussion in this thread is about how to maximize the level of resistant starch in traditional grains, rice and potatoes ... And this is for the grain sources in raw form - the cooked grains have much lower resistant starch levels, even after cooling.

 

So Michael are you skeptical of the value of resistant starch, or is there some other reason you would exclude these two foods richest in RS per calorie - plantain flour and potato starch, from your list of particularly beneficial functional foods?

I think I really answered your question in the quote you reproduce above from the post to which you're replying — but let me make it more explicit with additional quotation therefrom:

 

I also make sure to incorporate specific foods that have been documented in long-term, well-designed prospective epidemiological studies or clinical trials to reduce the risk or improve the outcomes in actual diseases or mortality: short-term results using unvalidated surrogate markers don't count at all, and even results with well-validated disease risk factors (glycemia, blood lipoproteins, etc) must be treated with some caution and do not meet this bar when taken in isolation. ...

 

[in support of wheat and oat brans], there is good epidemiology on "whole grain" intake, and it's plausible that the fibers in these whole grains are a significant part of the reason for the observation (if it's not merely a substitution effect for white bread and other refined carbs). This would then largely be wheat and oat brans, and not psyllium, plantain, or potato fibers.

If that wasn't clear enough in that last sentence, what I meant is that the actual "whole grains" in the diets of the people studied in the available prospective epidemiology is overwhelmingly things like whole wheat (from bread) and oats (mostly oatmeal), which might thus support brans from these plants as lower-Calorie surrogates. Potato fiber, plantains, and psyllium would not fall into that category: the first two are not even grains, and are predominantly consumed (respectively) in very small quantities; by other populations (not Europeans or "mainstream" Americans like the NIA-AARP cohort); and by small numbers of health nuts and constipatees (or, very recently, consumers of diet foods — any of these categories of psyllium users being hugely confounded in overall lifestyle and health)

 

Of course, you (Dean) are for the moment consuming very little fat, which presumably mitigates against this.

It turns out that the low-fat nature of my diet has been greatly exaggerated :)xyz

Huh — surprising, and I take it unwitting/unintentional. Looking at some of the other posts in the thread, I would now have to agree, to my surprise, with Sirtuin's assessment of your PUFA intake as "stupid high" — albeit, I take it, similarly unwittting. I that case, I would suggest you take some steps to curtail your intake after all ...

 

References

[1] Thromb Haemost. 2015 May;113(5):1135-44. doi: 10.1160/TH14-08-0675. Epub 2015 Feb

Menaquinone-7 supplementation improves arterial stiffness in healthy postmenopausal women. A double-blind randomised clinical trial.

Knapen MH, Braam LA, Drummen NE, Bekers O, Hoeks AP, Vermeer C(1).

PMID: 25694037

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Hi Michael,

 

Thanks for your reply. A couple quick comments / clarifications.

 

First, yes - I was mostly referring to broccoli sprouts when talking about sprouts as a special food, since they have the best evidence in their favor. And yes, I do grow my own sprouts, including broccoli sprouts. And yes, they are a bit of a pain, but I've got a pretty efficient system.

 

Regarding whole grains and the bran from said grains vs. psyllium, plantain and potato starch - thanks for clarifying your criteria for considering a food worth going out of your way to include in your diet (i.e. only if there is "long-term, well-designed, prospective epidemiological studies or clinical trials to reduce the risk or improve the outcomes in actual diseases or mortality: short-term results using unvalidated surrogate markers don't count at all, and even results with well-validated disease risk factors (glycemia, blood lipoproteins, etc) must be treated with some caution and do not meet this bar when taken in isolation."). That is quite a high bar and I now understand better why you don't consider the latter three sources of fiber to have met this criteria.

 

Regarding "stupid high" - ouch...

 

--Dean

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I used to occasionally splurge on broccoli sprouts but the markets where I shop have all stopped carrying them due to high risk of bacterial contamination.

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In his response above to my suggestion that natto may break up the amyloid beta plaques associated with Alzheimer's disease based on the results in rodents from study [1], Michael wrote:

 

But despite what the researchers say in teh extracts from teh rodent study you posted, they provided no evidence to support their apparent contention of (hard-to-believe) direct cleavage of brain Abeta by oral NK enzyme itself, as the original paper reported based on in vitro work: rather, what they actually report is an indirect effect of the supplement on Abeta metabolism via increasing the expression of ADAM9 and ADAM10 (which wouldn't strictly break up Abeta, but generate alternative cleavage products from amyloid precursor protein (APP)).

 

You are (of course) correct regarding the action of the ADAM9 and ADAM10 genes. As I now understand better from the intro to this paper [2], these two genes (ADAM9 and ADAM10, along with a third, ADAM17) influence (increase?) the expression of the α-secretase enzyme. The α-secretase enzyme cleaves the amyloid precursor protein (APP) in the correct location, toward the middle of the Aβ sequence, which precludes the production of plaque-forming amyloid-beta, which is generated when APP is cleaved elsewhere. So more ADAM9 and ADAM10 results in more 'good' cleavage of APP, so less bad cleavage that results in the plaques seen in AD.

 

The authors of [1] found that ADAM9 and ADAM10 expression was increased in rats fed a physiologically-relevant amount of nattokinase, relative to control rats. They suggest that this extra ADAM9/10 expression resulted in increased α-secretase levels, which was able to increase cleavage of APP at the correct location, preventing incorrect cleavage of APP from generating amyloid-beta plaques.

 

But whatever the mechanism (i.e. either direct cleavage of the amyloid beta by NK, or better cleavage via increased ADAM9/10 expression), both doses of nattokinase resulted in a reduction in brain pathology where it counts - i.e. reduced beta-amyloid plaques in the hippocampi of rats fed aluminum to induce Alzheimer's-like beta-amyloid plaques:

 

Treatment of AD group with a low dose of NK [nattokinase]
(360 Fu/ kg bw) for 45 days revealed an obvious
improvement in the histology of different brain areas
associated with the lysis of amyloid plaques in the
hippocampus. ... Treatment of
AD group with a high dose of NK (720 Fu/kg bw)
resulted in the disappearance of amyloid plaques in
the hippocampus.
 
Obviously this evidence doesn't really come close to your high standard for including a food in your diet (i.e. "specific foods that have been documented in long-term, well-designed prospective epidemiological studies or clinical trials to reduce the risk or improve the outcomes in actual diseases or mortality: short-term results using unvalidated surrogate markers don't count at all, and even results with well-validated disease risk factors (glycemia, blood lipoproteins, etc) must be treated with some caution and do not meet this bar when taken in isolation. ...").
 
But coupled with the fact that natto is by far the best dietary source of vitamin K2, which I believe you acknowledge as beneficial for bone (and possibly cardiovascular) health, and which you take yourself IIRC, this evidence for possible benefits of natto for preventing / reversing AD pathology, puts natto above my (admittedly less stringent) threshold for a beneficial food worth including in my diet.
 
--Dean
 
----------
[1] Hum Exp Toxicol. 2013 Jul;32(7):721-35. doi: 10.1177/0960327112467040.
Serrapeptase and nattokinase intervention for relieving Alzheimer's disease
pathophysiology in rat model.
 
Fadl NN(1), Ahmed HH, Booles HF, Sayed AH.
 
Full Text (via Sci-Hub.io)
 
Serrapeptase (SP) and nattokinase (NK) are proteolytic enzymes belonging to
serine proteases. In this study, we hypothesized that SP and NK could modulate
certain factors that are associated with Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathophysiology
in the experimental model. Oral administration of aluminium chloride (AlCl3) in a
dose of 17 mg/kg body weight (bw) daily for 45 days induced AD-like pathology in
male rats with a significant increase in brain acetylcholinesterase (AchE)
activity, transforming growth factor β (TGF-β), Fas and interleukin-6 (IL-6)
levels. Meanwhile, AlCl3 supplementation produced significant decrease in
brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1)
when compared with control values. Also, AlCl3 administration caused significant
decline in the expression levels of disintegrin and metalloproteinase domain 9
(ADAM9) and a disintegrin and metalloproteinase domain 10 (ADAM10) genes in the
brain. Histological investigation of brain tissue of rat model of AD showed
neuronal degeneration in the hippocampus and focal hyalinosis with cellular as
well as a cellular amyloid plaques formation. Oral administration of SP or NK in
a rat model of AD daily for 45 days resulted in a significant decrease in brain
AchE activity, TGF-β, Fas and IL-6 levels. Also, the treatment with these enzymes
produced significant increase in BDNF and IGF-1 levels when compared with the
untreated AD-induced rats. Moreover, both SP and NK could markedly increase the
expression levels of ADAM9 and ADAM10 genes in the brain tissue of the treated
rats. These findings were well confirmed by the histological examination of the
brain tissue of the treated rats. The present results support our hypothesis that
the oral administration of proteolytitc enzymes, SP and/or NK, would have an
effective role in modulating certain factors characterizing AD. Thus, these
enzymes may have a therapeutic application in the treatment of AD.
 
PMID: 23821590
 
---------
[2] Hum Mol Genet. 2009 Oct 15;18(20):3987-96. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddp323. Epub 2009 Jul
15.
 
Potential late-onset Alzheimer's disease-associated mutations in the ADAM10 gene 
attenuate {alpha}-secretase activity.
 
Kim M(1), Suh J, Romano D, Truong MH, Mullin K, Hooli B, Norton D, Tesco G,
Elliott K, Wagner SL, Moir RD, Becker KD, Tanzi RE.
 
 
ADAM10, a member of a disintegrin and metalloprotease family, is an
alpha-secretase capable of anti-amyloidogenic proteolysis of the amyloid
precursor protein. Here, we present evidence for genetic association of ADAM10
with Alzheimer's disease (AD) as well as two rare potentially disease-associated 
non-synonymous mutations, Q170H and R181G, in the ADAM10 prodomain. These
mutations were found in 11 of 16 affected individuals (average onset age 69.5
years) from seven late-onset AD families. Each mutation was also found in one
unaffected subject implying incomplete penetrance. Functionally, both mutations
significantly attenuated alpha-secretase activity of ADAM10 (>70% decrease), and 
elevated Abeta levels (1.5-3.5-fold) in cell-based studies. In summary, we
provide the first evidence of ADAM10 as a candidate AD susceptibility gene, and
report two potentially pathogenic mutations with incomplete penetrance for
late-onset familial AD.
 
PMCID: PMC2748890
PMID: 19608551

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A few posts up in this thread, Michael bashed curcumin, saying rather flippantly (my highlights):

 

Michael said:

TURMERIC // modest quantity in food // weekly // Google 'curcumin'

... and you'll come up with a lot of rank nonsense ;) . Almost nothing that has been said about turmeric or curcumin has been validated in vivo, still less in normal mammals, and nearly nothing in humans — not even epidemiology: when you dig down into the few such studies on 'curries,' they aren't usually even on turmeric-based Indian curries but completely different spice blends from South Asia and the Pacific Islands. Sufficient quantities of curcumin (at levels too high to be obtained from turmeric) seem to lower TG, but (a) there are no long-term outcome studies, (b) the mechanism is unknown, and © CR people (even those on pretty high-carb diets) almost uniformly have very low TG.

 

From what I can see most of what Michael says here isn't true. There are in vivo, interventional studies of curcumin in people showing benefits quite independent of any triglyceride-lowering effect it might have. An important one I posted about in this thread appears to be that curcumin may assist in the conversion of ALA to DHA in the brain, although admittedly that one was a study done in rats.

 

But here is an example of an intervention trial showing benefits of curcumin in people. Researchers in [1] gave 150mg curcumin supplements per day to 40 postmenopausal women for eight weeks. At the end they measured their flow-mediated dilation (FMD) as an indicator of the health of endothelial cells in their circulatory system. Reduced FMD is a predictor of cardiovascular disease [2].

 

What they found was that the women taking curcumin had significantly better (higher) FMD than the control women, and in fact the improvement in FMD was equivalent to that seen in a third group of women who engaged in one hour of aerobic exercise for the eight weeks. Here is the graph of the FMD change in the three groups:

 

FwJaXUe.png

 

The systolic blood pressure of both the curcumin and exercise groups improved relative to controls as well. 

 

So can we skip the exercise and just take curcumin? The same authors found in another study [3], that the combination of curcumin and exercise was better than either alone for other parameters of cardiovascular health related to blood pressure.

 

--Dean

 

-------

[1] Nutr Res. 2012 Oct;32(10):795-9. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2012.09.002. Epub 2012 Oct 15.

 
Curcumin ingestion and exercise training improve vascular endothelial function in
postmenopausal women.
 
Akazawa N(1), Choi Y, Miyaki A, Tanabe Y, Sugawara J, Ajisaka R, Maeda S.
 
Author information: 
(1)Graduate School of Comprehensive Human Science, University of Tsukuba, 1-1-1
Tennodai, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.
 
 
Vascular endothelial function is declines with aging and is associated with an
increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Lifestyle modification, particularly
aerobic exercise and dietary adjustment, has a favorable effect on vascular
aging. Curcumin is a major component of turmeric with known anti-inflammatory and
anti-oxidative effects. We investigated the effects of curcumin ingestion and
aerobic exercise training on flow-mediated dilation as an indicator endothelial
function in postmenopausal women. A total of 32 postmenopausal women were
assigned to 3 groups: control, exercise, and curcumin groups. The curcumin group 
ingested curcumin orally for 8 weeks. The exercise group underwent moderate
aerobic exercise training for 8 weeks. Before and after each intervention,
flow-mediated dilation was measured. No difference in baseline flow-mediated
dilation or other key dependent variables were detected among the groups.
Flow-mediated dilation increased significantly and equally in the curcumin and
exercise groups, whereas no changes were observed in the control group. Our
results indicated that curcumin ingestion and aerobic exercise training can
increase flow-mediated dilation in postmenopausal women, suggesting that both can
potentially improve the age-related decline in endothelial function.
 
Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
 
PMID: 23146777
 
-------------
[2] Bugiardini R, Manfrini O, Pizzi C, Fontana F, Morgagni G. Endothelial function predicts future development of coronary artery disease: a study of women with chest pain and normal coronary angiograms. Circulation 2004;109:2518–2523.
 
-----------
[3] Am J Hypertens. 2012 Jun;25(6):651-6. doi: 10.1038/ajh.2012.24. Epub 2012 Mar 15.
 
Effect of endurance exercise training and curcumin intake on central arterial
hemodynamics in postmenopausal women: pilot study.
 
Sugawara J(1), Akazawa N, Miyaki A, Choi Y, Tanabe Y, Imai T, Maeda S.
 
Author information: 
(1)Human Technology Research Institute, National Institute of Advanced Industrial
Science and Technology (AIST), Tsukuba, Japan. jun.sugawara@aist.go.jp
 
BACKGROUND: Lifestyle modification (i.e., regular physical activity and diet) is 
effective in preventing the age-related increase in cardiovascular disease risks.
Potential therapeutic effects of curcumin (diferuloylmethane) have been confirmed
on various diseases, including cancer and Alzheimer's disease, but the effects of
curcumin have not been tested on central arterial hemodynamics. The aim of this
pilot study was to test the hypothesis that the regular endurance exercise
combined with daily curcumin ingestion lowers the age-related increase in left
ventricular (LV) afterload to a greater extent than monotherapy with either
intervention alone in postmenopausal women using a randomized, double-blind,
placebo-controlled, parallel manner.
METHODS: Forty-five women were randomly assigned to four interventions: "placebo 
ingestion" (n = 11), "curcumin ingestion" (n = 11), "exercise training with
placebo ingestion" (n = 11), or "exercise training with curcumin ingestion" (n = 
12). Curcumin or placebo pills (150 mg/day) were administered for 8 weeks. Aortic
blood pressure (BP) and augmentation index (AIx), an index of LV afterload, were 
evaluated by pulse wave analysis from tonometrically measured radial arterial
pressure waveforms.
RESULTS: There were no significant differences in baseline hemodynamic variables 
among four groups. After the interventions, brachial systolic BP (SBP)
significantly decreased in both exercise-trained groups (P < 0.05 for both),
whereas aortic SBP significantly decreased only in the combined-treatment (e.g., 
exercise and curcumin) group (P < 0.05). Heart rate (HR) corrected aortic AIx
significantly decreases only in the combined-treatment group.
CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that regular endurance exercise combined with
daily curcumin ingestion may reduce LV afterload to a greater extent than
monotherapy with either intervention alone in postmenopausal women.
 
PMID: 22421908

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