Dr. Joel Fuhrman: Foods That Promote Good Health


This article was contributed by Dr. Joel Fuhrman.  Dr. Fuhrman is a best-selling author, nutritional researcher and board certified family physician specializing in nutritional medicine.  Learn more by visiting his informative website at DrFuhrman.com and his blog at Diseaseproof.com, and following Dr. Fuhrman on Facebook and Twitter.




To truly consume a healthy diet, the vast majority of the diet must be composed of nutrient-dense health-promoting foods, and disease-promoting foods must be avoided.  To define health-promoting and disease-promoting foods, we can turn to science to learn which foods are consistently shown to be protective against chronic disease (or associated with disease risk), which foods are associated with longevity (or mortality), and which foods contain known anti-cancer substances (and which contain cancer-promoting substances).

True health-promoting foods – these foods have the power to protect, to heal and prolong human lifespan:

-          Green vegetables.  Many green vegetables (such as bok choy, broccoli, and kale) belong to the cruciferous family, vegetables that contain potent anti-cancer compounds called isothiocyanates (ITCs).[1] Green leaves are perhaps the most powerful longevity-inducing foods of all.

-          Onions and mushrooms also have well-documented cancer-protective properties.  Onions and their Allium family members contain chemoprotective organosulfur compounds[2], and consuming mushrooms regularly has been shown to decrease risk of breast cancer by over 60%.[3]

-          Fruits, especially berries and pomegranate. Blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries are true super foods.  They are full of antioxidants and have been linked to reduced risk of diabetes, cancers and cognitive decline.[4]  Pomegranate has multiple cardiovascular health benefits, for example reducing LDL cholesterol and blood pressure.

-          Beans are an excellent, nutrient-dense weight-loss food – they have a stabilizing effect on blood sugar, which promotes satiety and helps to prevent food cravings.  Plus they contain substances that lower cholesterol, and regular bean consumption is associated with decreased cancer risk.[5]

-          Nuts and seeds.  Nuts contain a spectrum of beneficial nutrients including healthy fats, LDL-lowering phytosterols, circulation-promoting arginine, minerals, and antioxidants.  Countless studies have demonstrated the cardiovascular benefits of nuts, and including nuts in the diet has been shown to aid in weight control.[6]  Seeds have even a richer micronutrient profile, abundant in trace minerals, and each kind of seed is nutritionally unique.  Flaxseeds provide abundant omega-3 fats, pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc and iron, and sesame seeds are high in calcium and multiple vitamin E fractions.

Read more on DiseaseProof.com!

[1] Higdon JV et al. Cruciferous Vegetables and Human Cancer Risk: Epidemiologic Evidence and Mechanistic Basis. Pharmacol Res. 2007 March ; 55(3): 224–236

[2] Powolny AA, Singh SV. Multitargeted prevention and therapy of cancer by diallyl trisulfide and related Allium vegetable-derived organosulfur compounds.
Cancer Lett. 2008 Oct 8;269(2):305-14.

[3] Zhang M, et al. Dietary intakes of mushrooms and green tea combine to reduce the risk of breast cancer in Chinese women. Int J Cancer. 2009;124:1404-1408

[4] Bazzano LA, Li TY, Joshipura KJ, Hu FB. Intake of fruit, vegetables, and fruit juices and risk of diabetes in women. Diabetes Care. 2008 Jul;31(7):1311-7.
Hannum SM. Potential impact of strawberries on human health: a review of the science. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2004;44(1):1-17.
Joseph JA, Shukitt-Hale B, Willis LM. Grape juice, berries, and walnuts affect brain aging and behavior. J Nutr. 2009 Sep;139(9):1813S-7S.
Stoner GD, Wang LS,CastoBC. Laboratory and clinical studies of cancer chemoprevention by antioxidants in berries. Carcinogenesis. 2008 Sep;29(9):1665-74.

[5] Bazzano LA, Thompson AM, Tees MT, et al. Non-soy legume consumption lowers cholesterol levels: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2009 Nov 23. [Epub ahead of print]
Aune D, De Stefani E, Ronco A, et al. Legume intake and the risk of cancer: a multisite case-control study in Uruguay. Cancer Causes Control. 2009 Nov;20(9):1605-15.

[6] Sabaté J, Ang Y. Nuts and health outcomes: new epidemiologic evidence. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 May;89(5):1643S-1648S. Epub 2009 Mar 25.
Mattes RD et al. Impact of peanuts and tree nuts on body weight and healthy weight loss in adults. J Nutr. 2008 Sep; 138(9):1741S-1745S.

2 Responses to “Dr. Joel Fuhrman: Foods That Promote Good Health”

  1. Rebecca says:

    Hi Juanita,
    We actually don’t have any physicians on the Yummy Plants team, but we did find this article about beans. It talks about the what’s involved with tender fresh fava beans vs. mature fava beans… but doesn’t mention completely dry fava beans: http://www.foodsubs.com/Beans.html

    You might want to do some research about soaking beans and digestability.

    Another good resource about healthy foods in general is Dr. Fuhrman’s site http://www.diseaseproof.com and http://www.drfuhrman.com.

    Hope this information helps :)

  2. juanita says:

    I would like to know if is healthy food to consume once a month Dry havas , I am 200 pounds and 5.3hight
    Thank you.

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