Dr Dingle's Blog / vegetables
The reason I call it the blood pressure smoothie is all of the ingredients have been multiple shown in scientific studies to reduce blood pressure. By no way is this meant to replace advice from you GP but you can share it with them and see if they are interested in preventing the problem rather than just treating it with pharmaceuticals. Remember also that I am not a GP I am just the guy who does all the research which is why I have a PhD.
4 ingredients in order of importance
Almonds (soaked for at least 8 hours)
Filtered re-mineralised ionized water.
(equal amounts of each ingredient excerpt a more water)
Extras for taste and minerals
Start by grinding the linseed and the almond in the smoothie maker.
Add the beetroot and the filtered water to make up to the constituency you need.
If you want to make it a bit sweeter add some ripe banana, dates or coconut water (and coconut meat if you have the whole coconut) as they are rich in Potassium (and other minerals) which is essential for muscle relaxation and tastes great. But wait till the banana is ripe for the best taste. You can also cold green tea instead of water to add to the antioxidant mix.
The properties that make this smoothie such a potent blood pressure mix is all of the ingredients have excellent antioxidant properties, rich in minerals and other nutrients liked with lowering blood pressure in scientific studies.
High blood pressure or hypertension is having a blood pressure reading of above of around 90mm Hg on 140mm Hg. Hypertension itself is not a disease but a condition or as an indicator of ‘increased risk’ of cardiovascular disease. Patients who are hypertensive have an increased risk of heart attack and stroke due to the direct correlation between the two. Hypertension also contributes significantly to the increased risk of kidney failure and other chronic illness.
In healthy people the cells of blood vessels produce the substance called nitric oxide (NO) which instructs smooth muscles surrounding arteries to relax. If they cant relax they stay rigid and you end up with high blood pressure. The NO is produced in a single layer of cells that line the inside of the arteries called the endothelium. If this tissue is damaged in the case of too much pressure, oxidation or through other means it stops producing NO and blood pressure rises.
Many of the beneficial actions of nutrition on lowering blood pressure results both directly and indirectly through improving endothelial tissue and NO production and release from this tissue. Two major pathways to increase NO are increase the rates of nitrates in the diet, the building block for NO, and L-Arginine which stimulate the enzyme to manufacture NO. Endothelial-derived NO also inhibits platelet adhesion, activation, secretion, and aggregation and promotes platelet disaggregation so you are less likely to have a stroke. A third mechanism that is absolutely critical is to protect and repair the endothelium, remember it is only one cell thick and very susceptible to damage. Vitamin C and antioxidants are essential for this part.
Diets high in dietary nitrate such as beetroot are associated with reduced blood pressure increased exercise performance as a result of vasodilation (expansion) of the blood vessels and a decreased incidence in cardiovascular disease. 100-200mg of beetroot per day has been shown to produce immediate effects of lowering blood pressure by around 15 mm of Hg. Beetroot is also rich in vitamins, phytochemicals and contains large amounts of iron and folic acid Mg, Na and Ca. Apart from the nitrates the major bioactive molecules in beet are polyphenols, flavonoids, betalains, therapeutic enzymes, ascorbic acid, and dehydroascorbic acid (DHAA). So they not only provide the ingredients for NO production but also help in repair and protection of the endothelium.
Almonds have one of the highest sources of L-Arginine (most nuts have lots of L-Arginine so you can substitute the almonds if you want) which stimulates NO synthesis. Studies of almonds have shown reductions of 5-6 mm of blood pressure. It is important to soak the almonds as they (all nuts and seeds) have enzyme-inhibiting factors in them which stop them from germinating until they have enough water. These enzyme inhibitors also stop the absorption of some nutrients, particularly minerals. When you soak the nuts many of the nutrients also become more available for digestion.
Flaxseed is rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, L Arginine (about 20% less than almonds), lignans, antioxidants and fiber that together probably provide benefits to patients with cardiovascular disease. Studies on consuming 30g of flaxseed have been shown to reduce blood pressure by up to 15 mm Hg.
Cooking and processing food is something that is widely accepted, but many of us don't realise that there may be nutritional drawbacks. High heat, as well as many of the cooking processes, alters the physical and chemical structure of food, changing how it is digested and the nutrients that are available to be absorbed. Enzymes are destroyed and nutrients can be lost from almost all forms of cooking, depending upon the type of cooking, temperature, pH, oxygen content and type of food. In addition, the processing of foods may add toxins, which can build up in the body, causing a negative effect on health.
Vegetables, provide a good example of how cooking reduces the amount of valuable nutrients. With vegetables, cooking by means of boiling or steaming produces three composition-changing actions: shrinkage due to the extrusion of vegetable juices; leaching by either boiling water or condensed steam; and hydration.
Leaching produces a higher loss of water-soluble nutrients in vegetables, which increases with duration of boiling and the quantity of water used. Between 70 and 80% of vitamins and minerals including vitamin C and B group (such as thiamine and folate), and potassium are lost during the boiling process. Steaming vegetables does not result in the loss of anywhere near as many nutrients into the water as with boiling; however steamed vegetables still may lose up to 30% of their water and water-soluble nutrients. As the nutrients leach into the cooking liquid, that full value of the vegetable can only be maintained, if this is consumed as well as the solid food.
In experiments, the boiling of spinach and broccoli removed between 51% and 56% of folate. Thiamine (B1) has one of the highest losses by cooking—up to 80% with complete loss from oven-roasted food, while boiled legumes had 50% thiamine loss. Riboflavin (B2) losses tend to be less but still significant; roast chicken retained only 22% of its riboflavin after cooking.
The fat-soluble vitamins, A, D, E and K, are not lost whilst boiling, because they are not water-soluble, though they are still prone to oxidation damage, through high heat. However, other cooking processes can certainly have a big impact on the levels of the fat-soluble vitamins. Oven roasting lamb chops decreased the vitamin A content by 58%. Similarly, baking fish reduced vitamin A content by 37%. Many foods lose between 19 and 57% of the carotenoids, beta-carotene and xanthophylls when cooked.
The minerals that form the most soluble salts, potassium and sodium, have the highest loss using wet (boiling and streaming) cooking methods. In an experiment, boiled fish lost 25% of its potassium and 60% of its sodium. Pressure-cooking resulted in losses of 51% of sodium and 71% of potassium in mangrove seeds. Boiling of some vegetables (mushrooms and asparagus) reduces their selenium content by between 29% and 44%.
Protein loss through cooking, is minimal, appearing to be around 13%. However, after cooking, proteins become harder to digest as they form cross-links with reducing sugars, meaning the body has to work harder to break down, which may lead to the fermentation of raw meat in the digestive system. Raw meat, such as steak tartare and sushi, are much easier to digest, although they are an acquired taste.
Cooking increases acidosis
Cooking food, alters its natural state, and therefore the way it interacts with the body. Ideally the body should have a neutral pH level, around 7.2 to 7.4, but heavily processed foods and cooked animal proteins can increase the acidity of the body. As a result acidosis (increased acid in the body) decreases the body’s ability to absorb minerals and other nutrients, energy production in the cells and the body’s ability to repair damaged cells.
Heat produced toxic compounds
The higher the cooking temperature, the more food is altered, sometimes into toxic compounds. One study found close to 3,800 heat-formed chemicals in cooked food, including a number of carcinogens. Toxins developed from cooked and processed foods include acrylamide, heterocyclic amines, nitrosamines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH’s). These substances are all carcinogens. Carcinogens such as acrylamide, which is found in cooked and processed foods, are not found in raw foods. PAH’s, the burnt bits of food (for example, from barbequeing meat or toast), are known to be carcinogenic and are the oldest known chemical carcinogens. In food, more than 10 out of 20 PAH identified have been shown to be carcinogenic in experimental animals. Oral administration at various concentrations in rodents have resulted in stomach, ovarian, lymphoid, mammary and hepatic tumours. The major sources for PAH in food is during heat processing (grilling, smoking, toasting). The formation of PAH is minimal below 400oC, however the amounts increase linearly in the range 400-1000oC or when foods are in direct contact with flames. Smoking also forms a variety of other toxic compounds including nitrogen oxides which can form nitrites and are able to react with amines and amides, yielding N-nitroso compounds (Nitrosamines and Nitrosamides). Formation of these compounds occurs optimally around pH 3.5 and is catalysed by high temperatures. A significant portion of nitrosamines produced during the frying of food is also found in condensed vapours and may be breathed in by people doing the cooking. These nitroso compounds are well known cancer causing chemicals in both human and animal studies.
Various mutagenicity (pre cancer cells) tests also showed positive results related to amino acid pyrolysis (protein cooking) products and are considered potent liver carcinogens in rats and mice. Frying at 143oC for 20 minutes only produced low activity, whereas 191oC and 210oC for up to 10 minutes gave much higher mutagen activities. In meat it appears that only low levels of TA98 mutagenic activity are produced when ground beef is microwaved, stewed, simmered, boiled or deep fat fried. Baking, roasting and broiling produce moderate activity, while frying produces the highest activity.
Increases in time and temperature of cooking have been shown to increase advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which are shown to increase inflammation, particularly in diabetics. AGE products do considerable damage in the circulatory system and are increasingly associated with a range of adverse health effects from which diabetics suffer, including those leading to gangrene and blindness.
Plastics in heating, cooking and Microwaves
Unfortunately a lot of people do not realise that plastics leach out toxic substances in the food and the rates of this release is often dependent on heating and the type of food. So putting hot food into plastic containers or heating food in plastic containers, which is common with microwave cooking, increases the release of different toxic plastic compounds such as PVC, BPA (Bisphenol A) and plasticizers like and phthalates (DEHA).
DEHA is a phthalate like chemical added to plastics to make them more pliable is a known endocrine (hormone) disruptor and causes testicular and reproductive defects in rats. In studies conducted on rats, DEHA has been known to cause androgenic effects. It was also found to have caused developmental toxicity in rat foetuses.
BPA has been found to cause oestrogenic effects in rats in low exposure, a change in maternal instinct in rats at one fifth the level considered safe and that it causes aneuploidy (extra or missing chromosones) in mice. Aneuploidy is the cause of spontaneous miscarriage in humans, and causes between 10 and 20 percent of birth defects, including Down's syndrome. This implicates BPA in a suite of health problems.
“Microwave safe” is not a health claim and has no bearing on the movement of chemicals into the food. Instead it is a warning that the plastic will not physically deteriorate if exposed to microwaves. That is it will not melt. Many of the microwave safe products use polyethylene instead of other plastics such as PVC as polyethylene has no plasticizers. PVC is a known liver cancer causing agent.
A common piece of cookware in most kitchens, teflon cookware is a high temperature cookware that is made with material that enable’s it to heat consistently at a lower temperature to prevent burning, and is more resistant to damage caused by sudden temperature changes, and maintains a non-stick surface. Teflon cookware is formulated from Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and Perfluorooctanoic acid (POFA), both being toxic substance which are released into the food and into the air.
Cooking with Teflon enables these gases to be released and penetrate the alveoli creating respiratory problems, causes direct damage to cell membranes of the lungs, elevates cholinesterase activity and increases levels of inorganic fluorides in the human body. Although research on the effects of PTFE on human health is limited, extensive animal studies have shown inhalation exposure to produce adverse health effects in several organs and at higher concentrations even death. Rats exposed to high concentrations developed hemorrhages, edema, fibrin deposition in lungs and damage to the proximal tubule of the kidney. Most alarming however, PTFE releases toxic pyrolysis products in the air that can cause rapid death of birds. Exposure of budgerigars to PTFE pyrolysis products in the air for only 9 minutes produced severe clinical signs, lesions and death of 31 of 32 birds. A similar effect on five cockatiels was also observed in an incident where all five had died within 30 minutes of exposure to an over-heated frying pan containing PTFE.
Of additional concern to the manufacturing of Teflon cookware is the inclusion of Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in its’ non-stick coating. Perfluorooctanoic acid is linked to damaging the human immune system, altering the endocrine system, causing infertility, damaging children’s health and producing development problems, and to be carcinogenic. One study found PFOA production workers in the U.S. have a three-fold increase in developing prostate cancer. The U.S. EPA state that not only is PFOA a likely cancer carcinogenic, exposure to the chemical also impairs the fertility of women. While exposure to PFOA in utero (to the fetus) has been linked with reductions in newborn birth weight and adverse effects on the skeletal and organ development of the baby. Exposure to POFA from Teflon cookware alters the endocrine system including decreased levels of reproductive hormones and disrupted thyroid hormone regulation.
Other than the emissions from Teflon cookware into the air lesser known side effect of cooking is the creation of indoor combustion air pollutants. Carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and particulate matter (PM) are harmful air pollutants that pose significant short- and long-term health risks. These same pollutants are also some of the most common contributors to unhealthy air inside homes, due in part to cooking. Researchers now understand that the process of cooking food and even simply operating stoves—particularly gas appliances—can emit a cocktail of potentially hazardous chemicals and compounds. Within our homes, these pollutants are less diluted than they are outdoors, and in the absence of proper ventilation, they often are trapped inside. Literally millions of people are routinely being exposed to air pollutants at levels that we don’t allow outdoors
Cooking and Weight gain
Cooking is a universal human behaviour that has been proposed to function partly as a mechanism for increasing dietary net energy gain and Research shows that cooked foods are a major contributing factor to the epidemic weight gain and obesity crisis we see now. A long time ago farmers found out that animals eating raw food put on a lot of lean mass but not much fat or the weight needed to make good profits. So farmers started processing the food to get bigger weight gains. On experiments feeding mice processed grains put on significantly more weight and became obese compared to mice fed whole grains in their natural unprocessed form.
An explanation for this is that processing and cooking increases the energy gained from carbohydrate, protein and fat sources. In fats the cellular structure of many foods constrains their digestibility. For example, Oilseeds have cell walls composed mainly of indigestible non-starch polysaccharides and store their lipids in oil bodies, intracellular, spherical organelles coated by oleosin proteins. These features hinder digestive lipases from accessing the encapsulated lipids which may explain why unprocessed (raw/whole; RW) nuts and other oilseeds have high measured lipid and energy content, but display lower digestibility. Cooking and/or mechanical processing tears cell walls and disrupts oil bodies, promoting lipid release which shows that processing could increase lipid digestibility, because, unguarded by cell walls and oleosins, the freed lipids are likely more accessible to lipases.
Prebiotics through the metabolism of the gut microbiome have also been linked to satiety effects and foods that contain fiber, protein, and plant-based fat tend to be the most filling. These nutrients slow down digestion and the absorption of nutrients, a process that helps you feel physically full for longer, and also means lower blood sugar and insulin spikes. While all unprocessed plant sources are rich in prebiotics leeks are rich in fructan and cellulose fibers (types of prebiotics) are long enough to survive all the way down the GI tract. However, cooking shortens the fiber chain, so it should be eaten raw or lightly cooked.
A variety of natural vinegar products are found in civilizations around the world. It is a sour traditional fermented food that is used in pickles, sauces and beverages, as well as in various food-processing procedures and as a specialty food ingredient. Vinegar is produced from fruit juices such as grape, apple, plum, coconut, and tomato, rice, and potato. It is made by crushing the fruit and squeezing out the liquid. Bacteria and yeast are added to the liquid to start the alcoholic fermentation process, and the sugars are turned into alcohol. In a second fermentation process, the alcohol is converted into vinegar by acetic acid-forming bacteria.
Although vinegar can be made from any fruit, apple cider vinegar is the most common vinegar used in western folk medicine. Traditionally, apple cider vinegar is made with a long fermentation of apple juices and pulp, of around 1 month, and is fuelled by species of acetic acid bacteria from the fruit and the environment. As a result, acetic acid is the main ingredient of apple cider vinegar, around 3–10% and gives vinegar its characteristic taste and smell. In addition, some of the other ingredients include, polyphenols, like carotenoids, catechin, ephicatechin, as well as gallic acid, citric, lactic, malic and tartaric acids, chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, p-coumaric acid, ferulic acid, pectin, probiotics and prebiotics 1-5. Vinegar also contains various minerals such copper, potassium, sodium, chloride, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, as well as vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C, E and, complex carbohydrates and fiber, amino acids and numerous beneficial enzymes to help with digestion. Many of the ingredients in vinegar such as the phenolic compounds are also found in the starting material (i.e., the fruit), or may be introduced to it by aging the vinegar so large differences exist in content of phenolic compounds among vinegars. Overall vinegar is an extremely well rounded nutritious food.
While vinegar products are widely used around the world, the scientific information about the health effects of vinegar as a traditional medicine is only now catching up and supported by many scientific studies. Over the past 20 years the research on vinegar has shown many positive effects on health 2,3 such as an antibacterial effect, cardiovascular benefits, reduction in blood pressure, an antioxidant and anti inflammatory effect, regulation of blood sugar and anti-diabetic effect, reduction and prevention of obesity 6-8, a healing effect on injuries, and a positive effect on brain and cognitive functions 1,9 and on bone health 10.
Historically vinegar was used in the treatment of diabetes before any pharmacologic glucose-lowering therapy 11,12. Recent studies indicate that vinegar improves insulin sensitivity in healthy volunteers, diabetics and obese individuals 8,13,14. In type 2 diabetics vinegar reduces the after meal peak in circulating sugar (hyperglycaemia), insulin and fatty acids (triglycerides) 11,12,16, which in turn reduces the level of blood sugar reacting with the red blood cells (haemoglobin A1c) which is damaging to the blood cells in patients with type 2 diabetes 17.
More specifically the blood glucose/sugar-lowering effect of vinegar was evident when vinegar was ingested with complex carbohydrates, but to a lesser extent with simple sugars (monosaccharides) 13,18 and vinegar reduced the after meal sugar spike (postprandial glycaemia) in patients with type 2 diabetes when added to a high, but not to a low, glycaemic index meal 15. This suggests that vinegar is more effective in controlling blood sugar and triglycerides best in the processed carb rich diet compared to when you just take it with simple healthy meals.
While there appear to be many mechanisms by which vinegar reduces glucose levels not everything is fully understood yet. However, what we do know is that vinegar/acetic acid delays gastric emptying, slowing down the digestion and absorption of sugars and fats 19,20; it slows the breaking down of more complex sugars (disaccharide) in the small intestine and suppresses the absorption of carbohydrate 21; lowers free fatty acid in the blood leading to improved insulin sensitivity, increased blood flow to the peripheral tissues and increased satiety, leading to lower food intake 22. In a study of 12 healthy volunteers vinegar served with a portion of white wheat bread containing 50 g available carbohydrates reported a significant dose-response relation for blood glucose and serum insulin; the higher the acetic acid level, the lower the glucose and insulin. Furthermore, the rating of stomach fullness was directly related to the acetic acid level 8.
Vinegar also increases glucose uptake in skeletal muscles 23 and ingestion at bedtime has also been shown to decrease fasting glucose levels in the morning in humans with type 2 diabetes, suggesting an effect of acetic acid on reducing glucose production and increasing the rates of glycogen synthesis (storage) in the cells 24. Vinegar also stimulates the blood flow and capillary recruitment to the muscles 25,26. Much of this occurs through epigenetic processes and induced gene expression 27.
Apple cider vinegar and other fruit vinegars also have a protective effect on the liver, protecting it from metabolic damage associated with metabolic syndrome and diabetes type 2 28-31. These findings suggest that these vinegars may prevent high fat diet-induced obesity and obesity-related cardiac complications 32.
A large number of studies have also shown the cardiovascular benefits of vinegar 33. In a study of rats with high blood pressure both vinegar and acetic acid decreased blood pressure 34. The studies show that even acute consumption of apple cider vinegar (which is rich in antioxidants and anti inflammatories) causes significant reduction on some risk factors around the build up of plaque in the arteries 35 and reduced atherosclerotic lesions in the aorta, among rabbits on fat diets 36. Vinegar also decreases circulating blood fat (triglyceride) levels 37,38,39 and protect from fat accumulation in liver 40,41 in obese 38and/or type 2 diabetic 42 humans . It also decreases fat levels in skeletal muscle 43 which is a common feature in diabetes and insulin resistance. Apple cider vinegars, regardless of the production method, decreases triglyceride and very low density lipoproteins (VLDL) levels in all groups when compared to controls without vinegar supplementation. A number of studies have also shown the benefits of vinegar on the cholesterol profile even in animals consuming a high cholesterol diet 36,37 and the polyphenols (catechins) present in apple vinegar have been shown to inhibit the LDL oxidation in endothelial cells 44 which make up the lining of the cell wall and may be the precondition for plaque build up.
As a result of its improvement on blood circulation vinegar is likely to have a benefits for many cardio vascular illnesses, even Alzheimer’s (which is just another cardio vascular disease), but as yet the research is only circumstantial. Vinegar has also been shown to be an effective treatment for varicose veins taken internally and applied externally. In a study randomized controlled trial of 120 patients application of vinegar lead to reduction in cramps, pain, leg fatigue perception, edema, itching, pigmentation, weight feelings in the leg, and visual ratings 45. Even though vinegar does not remove the problem veins entirely, the effects they have can reduce symptoms, reduce complication development, or reduce aesthetic concerns.
Vinegar has been shown to reduce osteoporosis 46. Vinegar is a rich source of minerals, such as calcium, manganese and magnesium, which are important in sustaining optimal bone mass. Moreover, the acetic acid content in vinegar has also been shown to promote the absorption and retention of calcium 47.
Consuming apple cider vinegar has also been shown to to have many anti oxidative effects throughout the body including reducing eye lens oxidative injury, a characteristic of the developments of cataracts, by stimulating one of the main antioxidant systems in the body called glutathione peroxidase in mice 48.
Vinegar also helps with digestion and has been recommended to people with digestive troubles for hundreds of years. Common thought is that it helps to prime the gastro-intestinal system for digestion and experience shows that people suffering from reflux (GORD) are more likely to have low levels of gastric acid, not too much acid and one teaspoon (diluted) of vinegar before a meal can assist with digestion. However, this is unlikely to be a result of the pH of the vinegar but may be due to other compounds such as enzymes, prebiotics and probiotics to assist digestion or that it promotes the release of bile acids to assist with the digestion of fats.
In the future our medical doctors will tell their patients to go and have 30-50 ml of organic apple cider vinegar a day spread over two meals to prevent and help treat the major health conditions we are confronted with today rather than put them on multiple drugs that have deadly side effects.
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Men eat 57% more meat, more starchy-vegetables and less green vegetables than women. According to the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey there is a big gender gap for eating habits. It appears meat is seen as more “manly”. Other misconceptions are plant based diets don’t have taste and of course the old one that they don’t have enough protein. While there are many misconceptions over meat and protein USA males consume about twice as much protein as they need to. There are also many top male athletes, sportsmen and bodybuilders who are vegetarian or vegan showing that the manly myth of meat just does not hold.
Interestingly while meat is associated with a number of health issues including prostate problems and cancer the lack of green vegetables and nutrient dense plant based foods is the major cause of high blood pressure and the associated erectile dysfunction. Erectile function is probably the most important personal display of manhood. So much for meat being a mans food. In fact to be manly you need to consume more vegetables just like mum used to tell us.