Cruciferous Vegetables: Nutritional Powerhouses

Greater Cruciferous Vegetable Intake Associated with less Aortic Calcification

To Define:

“Aortic calcification, also known as aortic valve calcification (or sclerosis) is a condition where large calcium deposits get accumulated in the aorta of the heart. These calcium deposits can cause the opening of the aortic valve to become narrow and reduce the flow of blood to the heart resulting in chest pain and heart attack.”

“Aorta – the main artery of the body, supplying oxygenated blood to the circulatory system. In humans. “

A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition showed an association between an increased intake of Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and other cruciferous vegetables and less extensive abdominal aortic calcification (AAC defined above) in older women. The study population included 684 women with a mean age of 75 who previously had enrolled in the Calcium Intake Fracture Outcome Study (1998) conducted at the University of Western Australia. Diet intake questionnaires were given to participants and calcification detected as extensive or not extensive was determined by imaging techniques.

A correlation was observed between greater cruciferous vegetable intake and a reduction of AAC. Women whose intake of the vegetables was more than 44.6 grams a day (equivalent of 1/4 cup of steamed broccoli or 1/2 cup of raw cabbage had a 46% lowered adjusted risk of extensive AAC, compared to those whose intake was less than 15 grams a day. Total vegetable intake, including other types of vegetables, was not related with risk.

Interestingly, cruciferous vegetables have had positive results with lessening disease risk not only in heart calcification but in cancer prevention. Vegetables in this family not only include broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower, but bok choy, kale, kolrabi, and Swiss chard. These vegetables are excellent sources of a family of anticancer phytochemicals called isothocynates that fight cancer by neutralizing carcinogens.

Broccoli also contains high levels of a phytochemical called sulforaphane. Sulforaphane increases the activation of enzymes known as phase-2 enzymes, which help fight carcinogens. According to the Department of Urology at Stanford University published in Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention, sulforaphane is the most potent inducer of phase-2 enzymes of any phytochemical known to date.

SOURCE: Life Extension, February, 2021

Bowden, Jonny, Ph.D., C.N.S. The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, 2007


Walnuts May Extend Life ?


By Michael Downey

Walnuts once had a bad rap because they have a high calorie and fat content. However, recently it has been found that these assumptions are false. These nuts are packed with healthy fats, vitamins, antioxidants, protein, fiber, and trace minerals. These nuts also have a small amount of sodium, are free of cholesterol, and contain polyunsaturated or good fats.

“Walnuts provide an array of health benefits shown by an observational study that spanned almost 20 years of follow-up data. The study was published in the journal, Nutrients in 2021. Compared to people who never ate walnuts, people who consumed five one ounce serving of walnuts per week resulting in an approximate 1.3 year increase in life expectancy for 60 –year olds and:

A 14% lower risk of death from any cause

A 25% lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease”.

Walnuts contain healthy fats, fiber and other nutrients. One ounce contains 4 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber, and 45 mg of the mineral magnesium. They also contain ALA

 (alpha – linolenic acid, an omega-3 found in plants. ALA may improve blood lipids as well as the function of endothelial cells that line the arteries. ALA is also associated with a lower risk of oxidative stress.

Heart Protection

Walnuts are believed to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease since regular intake is associated with blood pressure reduction. Also, regular intake can reduce blood levels of LDL, triglycerides which that increase heart disease risk. A clinical trial of healthy adults between 63 and 79 years old showed that eating about two ounces of walnuts daily for two years.

Help Controlling Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes has the potential for complications that include: heart disease, chronic kidney disease, nerve damage, vision problems and cognitive impairment. Some studies have shown that walnuts may help lower blood glucose and help to reduce these health risks. A human trial showed that consumption of walnut oil daily for three months lowered blood sugar levels and three-month HbA1c glycemic control. Fasting blood glucose should be <85mg/dL and a A1c less than 5.0%.

Brain Health

Lab and animal studies indicate that walnuts reduce oxidative damage and inflammation in brain cells. In an animal model of Alzheimer’s disease, mice were fed walnuts for 10 months and when compared to mice fed no walnuts, showed improvements in memory-learning ability.

Other studies found in Parkinson’s, depression, or stroke, walnuts lowered the progression of these diseases.


Try to use walnuts on salads and as snacks by the handful.

Source: Life Extension: The Science of a Healthier Life, April 2022.

Diet and Cancer: What We Know

Cancer, Diet and Lifestyle

Lifestyles can interact with the epigenome, defined as the network of compounds around our genes that are capable of altering gene expression in response to environmental influences. The ultimate action can result in cancer prevention.


The general risk factors of cancer include obesity, physical inactivity, alcohol consumption and/or poor nutrition. These factors have the potential to determine if a cancer will result or in the opposite case, be suppressed.

Consume a nutrient dense, whole-foods diet that predominantly includes plant foods. As Michael Pollan puts it, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” Plant foods are rich in nutrients and phytochemicals that work synergistically to prevent many chronic diseases, primarily heart disease and cancer. Evidence exists that up to 45% of colon cancer cases could be avoided through diet and lifestyle changes alone.

Limit your consumption of high-calorie foods, primarily in the form of ultra-processed foods that are major contributors to weight gain leading to type 2 diabetes, or insulin resistance.

Cancers of the liver, pancreas, endometrium, colon, rectum, breast, and bladder are at higher risks for developing in obesity. Being overweight also raises the risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, multiple myeloma and gallbladder, liver, cervical, ovarian, and aggressive prostate cancers.

Be as lean as possible without becoming underweight. It may be helpful to be able to calculate your own weight status by using the Body Mass Index (BMI).

You simply divide your weight in pounds by your height in inches squared X 703.

For example: BMI =140 pounds divided by 64 inches squared (4096) X 703 = 24.0. A healthy BMI is 20 – 24. Being underweight is considered a BMI of less than 19.0.

Limit your consumption of red meat (including beef, pork and lamb).  There are several reasons:

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies red meat as a “probably carcinogen”.  You don’t need to give up meat; however, an intake of up to 18 ounces a week can be safely consumed without too much concern. BTW, 4 oz. is about the size of a deck of cards.

Another factor that raises cancer risk is the overcooking of red meat that produces charred areas of the meat – goodbye grill marks?). These create carcinogenic heterocyclic amines (HCAs) that have been linked to pancreatic and colon cancers.

Another carcinogenic compound comes from burning the fat from meat when grilling that produce polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), linked to stomach cancer.

Hint: Both compounds can be lessened by using a marinade on the meat.

Highly processed meats such as bacon, hot dogs, and lunch meats are known for their nitrite and nitrate content used as preservatives.  Smoking meats can lead to the formation of N-nitroso compounds which are considered carcinogenic.

Avoid deep-fried foods. When cooked in this manner, foods are exposed to a chemical called acrylamide that increases the risk of prostate cancer.

There are other lifestyle factors that can influence epigenetically the risk of any chronic disease. Alcohol intake, for example is important due to the carcinogenic effects of alcohol itself. 

“Chronic inflammation, which is strongly associated with being overweight, can increase the risk of developing cancer.  Excess belly fat produces hormones that can raise levels of insulin, estrogen and leptin, all of which have been linked to cancer development.” (Finlayson, 2019). 

The interconnected factors that trigger chronic diseases are vast and subject to manipulation by the body as well as our microbial environment. It would be wise to attempt to take the best care of your body as you possibly can and begin at an early age.  Aging as you know itself becomes a central factor in the development of any chronic disease. In 1980, Dr. James Fries, Professor of Medicine, Stanford University introduced the compression of morbidity theory. This theory states that “most illness was chronic and occurred in later life and postulated that the lifetime burden of illness could be reduced if the onset of chronic illness could be postponed and if this postponement could be greater than increases in life expectancy.” That theory tells it all. (Unknown source). SJF

Source: Judith Finlayson. You Are What Your Grandparents Ate: What You Need to Know About Nutrition, Experience, Epigenetics & the Origins of Chronic Disease, 2019

Working for an extension of a Healthy Lifespan

In the News


Memory Loss, Dementia, Mediterranean Diet

A Mediterranean-style diet could protect against memory loss and dementia, according to a study published in the journal, Neurology.

The 512 participants, with an average age of 70, completed food frequency questionnaires and then given brain scans to determine brain volume, and neurological tests to examine their cognitive abilities and biomarkers for beta amyloid and tau  proteins that are thought to characterize Alzheimer’s disease.

People who ate an unhealthy diet (not identified in abstract) had higher markers of amyloid beta and tau proteins in their cerebrospinal fluid, compared to those who followed a Mediterranean diet.

The unhealthy –diet eaters also performed worse on memory tests than those who ate healthy foods.

Editor’s Note:

Participants who did not eat a healthy, Med-style diet were also found to have a smaller hippocampus volume (the area of brain responsible for thinking and memory) than those who did. The hippocampus is known to atrophy (shrink) in those with Alzheimer’s disease.


Life Extension, September, 2021

Eating Fish for Brain Health

A study published in Neurology found that 1623 people over the age of 65 who eat more fish have lower risks of brain disease like vascular dementia, stroke, and a lower incidence of brain vessel damage. The researchers analyzed MRI brain scans and completed a diet questionnaire. Note: This association was strongest in people ages, 65-69, compared to older participants in the study.

Neurology, 2021.

Diabetes Screening Age Lowered from 40 to 35 for Overweight and Obese People.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has lowered the age at which overweight and obese people should begin screening for diabetes from 40 to 35. According to the Task Force, there is a spike in the prevalence of both diabetes and prediabetes around age 35. Lowering the screening age could help identify or prevent diabetes by adopting a healthier diet, exercise more, and lose weight.

Note: Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure and new cases of blindness among adults in the U.S.

JAMA, 2021; 326 (8):736-743

Feeding Your Gut Microbiome

“There’s been a lot of buzz recently about the need to eat probiotics — -living microorganisms found in foods such as yogurt and fermented vegetables. Probiotics add to your gut microbiota, the collection of 100 trillion or so bacteria and other critters living in your gut. Having a healthy microbiota may help foster a healthy immune system and reduce damaging inflammation in the body. Eating probiotics regularly may also help to prevent the intestinal environment from being overrun by unhealthy bacteria, which have been linked to everything from mood disorders and obesity to diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases.”

How to Feed your Microbiome 

Aim to maximize gut microbial diversity (a good thing) by maximizing regular intake of naturally fermented foods and probiotics.

Reduce the inflammatory potential of your gut microbiota by:  Cutting down on animal fat in your diet. Try to increase your intake of omega-3 fats and cutting down on omega-6 fats.

Avoid whenever possible, mass-produced processed food, and select organically grown food.

It’s not all diet, but behavioral aspects are important too.

Eat smaller servings at meals.

Be mindful of prenatal nutrition (if applicable).  

Reduce stress and practice mindfulness.

Avoid eating when you are stressed, angry, or sad.

Enjoy the secret pleasures and social aspects of food.

Become more expert in listening to your gut feelings.

Practice regular exercise. Aerobic is well documented that it reduces thickness of the cerebral cortex, improves cognitive function, and reduces stress responsiveness.

Emeran MAYER, MD. The Mind-Gut Connection: How the Hidden Conversation Within Our Bodies Impacts Our Mood, Our Choices, and Our Overall Health. 2016

In the News

In the News: Updates

Mediterranean Diet Can Lower Risk Of Sudden Death by 25-26%.

Either a Mediterranean Diet (vegetables, fruits, legumes, cereals, and fish) or U.S. Southern Diet pattern (added fats, fried food, eggs, organ meats, processed meats, and sugar-sweetened beverages) was given to 21, 069 men and women 45 years and older and compared for adherence to each diet using diet scores.

The results showed that 402 sudden cardiac deaths occurred during an average of 9.8 years of follow-up. People whose Mediterranean scores placed them among the top third of participants had a 25-26% lower risk of sudden cardiac deaths than subjects whose scores were among the lowest third. People whose Southern dietary pattern scores was among the top quarter of participants had a 46% higher risk of sudden cardiac death than those among the lowest quarter.

J. Am Heart Association 2021 July 6;10:e019158.

At a Glance

  • A study found that a diet high in added fats, fried foods, processed meats, and sugary drinks was associated with a greater risk of sudden cardiac death, while a Mediterranean diet was associated with a lower risk.
  • The findings provide evidence that adopting a healthier diet may decrease the risk of sudden cardiac death.

What Do We Know About Diet and Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease?

Changes in the brain can occur years before the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease occur.  It also should be noted that the focus of diet factors on diseases should be the prevention or delay of the disease in question and not a “cure.” Unlike other risk factors for Alzheimer’s that we cannot change such as age and genetics, the current thought is that with lifestyle choices such as diet, exercise and cognitive training, many chronic diseases can possibly be avoided adding health to our lifespans.

How could our diet affect our brains?

“It’s possible that certain diet patterns affects biological mechanisms, such as oxidative stress and inflammation that underlie many chronic diseases. Or perhaps diet works indirectly by affecting other disease risks, such as diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. A new avenue of research focuses on the relationship between gut microbes in the digestive system and aging-related processes that lead to Alzheimer’s.”

Reference: National Institute on Aging

Several diet patterns show some promise. One is the Mediterranean Diet or its variations, the MIND diet (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) or the DASH diet. (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. All are based on leafy green vegetables and colorful vegetables, berries, fish, poultry, beans, nuts, wine (1 glass a day), whole grains and preferably olive oil.

“For example, two recent studies suggest that, as part of the Mediterranean diet, eating fish may be the strongest factor influencing higher cognitive function and slower cognitive decline. In contrast, the typical Western diet increases cardiovascular disease risk, possibly contributing to faster brain aging.”

The problem with the research is that most is called observational (subject to recall from the participants). To rectify this, several organizations like National Institute of Aging are conducting clinical trials (considered the gold standard of medical proof to shed more light on any cause and effect.

What About Supplements?

Clinical trials in humans have had mixed results, some with positive effects, others with negative results. These types of studies often attempt to measure the effects of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet. However, at this time: despite early findings of possible benefits for brain health, no vitamin or supplement has been proven to work in people. Overall, evidence is weak as many studies were too small or too short to be conclusive.

Note: A deficiency in vitamin B12 or folate due to aging or strictly following a vegan diet may cause memory problems that are reversible with proper treatment. Please consult with your physician. If you are over 65, it may be prudent to have your Vitamin B12 status checked. Sometimes, the deficiency may be due to problems with absorption of the vitamin, not the intake. Also, healthy humans are equipped with a number of adaptive mechanisms that partially protect the body from poor health due to fluctuations in dietary intake. Vitamin B12 can be stored within body tissues for later use. Meats and seafood are good sources

Omega-3, Omega 6 and Breast Cancer

Note: I personally conducted animal research using high or low omega-3 or omega-6 diets on breast cancer incidence. The study was repeated two times and no significant differences in breast cancer incidence, tumor weight or immune system parameters were found between the study groups. This content is partly provided by the NIH National Institute on Aging (NIA) scientists and other experts review this content, so it is accurate and up to date. This content was reviewed November 27, 2019.

Influence of Type and Level of Dietary Polyunsaturated Fat on Incidence of Chemically-induced Mammary Tumors and on Selected Immune Responses in Rats. Sally J. Feltner, June, 1988.

The Mind-Gut Connection

The Mind-Gut Connection teaches us how to make simple changes to diet and lifestyle to achieve balance that can help us achieve optimal health.

The gut is a large storage area for specialized cells and signaling systems. It functions as a large sensory organ that when spread out fills the size of a basketball court. Its job is to communicate between the gut and the brain using hormones, bidirectional nerve communication channels, and inflammatory signaling molecules. When this communication channel is not functioning or suffers from dysbiosis, major health problems can occur in both the mind and body that can result in food sensitivities, allergies, digestive disorders, obesity, depression and anxiety.

“The gut and the brain are closely linked through pathways that include nerves, hormones, and inflammatory molecules. Rich sensory information generated in the gut reaches the brain (gut sensations) and the brain sends signals back to the gut to adjust its function (gut reactions). The close interactions of these pathways play a critical role in the generation of emotions and in optimal gut function. The two are intricately linked.”

Emeran Mayer, MD. The Mind-Gut Connection, How the Hidden Conversation Within Our Bodies Impacts ouor Mood, Our Choices, and Our Overall Healh. 2016. This book is highly recommended.


“QUESTION: Humans aren’t genetically designed to eat three meals a day?

“In the Stone Age, people would eat what they could find when they could find it. Sometimes they couldn’t find much of anything.

We have good reason to believe that intermittent feast (and famine) was native to the human condition. We are actually quite well adapted to periods of fasting.

A word of warning: Fasting is not safe for everyone, especially those on medication, e.g. insulin or blood pressure meds”,

Check with your doctor when you change your diet or take any supplements. The supplements are not regulated by the FDA. (SJF).

Mark Bittman, and David Katz, MD. “How to Eat: All Your Food and Diet Questions Answered. 2020.