Prescription Nutrition 4 of 4: Nature’s Candy

This series of four CuriosityStream videos, featuring our darling Dr Michael Greger, provides such as good overview of the health benefits of plant foods, as well as insights into how delicious plant foods can be as central features in our daily meals, that I thought it would be useful to show each video along with a transcript – just so that any useful links can be easier for you to copy and look up at your leisure. Part 4 considers nature’s candy.

Prescription Nutrition: 4. Nature’s Candy – The Video

(Only watch to 17 mins 20 seconds since, for some reason, the video repeats thereafter…)


Prescription Nutrition: 4. Nature’s Candy – The Transcript

People featured in the video are the narrator Craig SechlerDr Michael GregerChef Rich Landau Kate Jacoby(Vedge Restaurant), and Tracye McQuirter MPH.

(The person speaking is shown in brackets before the text.)

(Tracye McQuirter) Fruits are the second healthiest foods on the planet after vegetables.

(Dr Michael Greger) Imagine if there were a drug that can decrease your risk of dying by a third.

(Kate Jacoby) The best thing that I can do is to take a fruit and showcase it with as little meddling as possible.

(Dr Michael Greger) You need to realise the important difference between sugar in its natural form, the way that nature intended, versus these so-called industrial sugars.

(Tracye McQuirter) We have to take control, even if you are just able to do it once or twice or three times a week, that makes a huge impact on your health.

(Craig Sechler) For millions of years, humans have been developing an important symbiotic relationship with fruit. Trees and plants depend on us to disperse seeds from their fruits across the countryside. And we’ve come to depend on those fruits for a delicious and vital source of nutrition. But new research is revealing that our relationship with fruit may run much deeper than we ever imagined.

(Dr Michael Greger) According to the Global Burden of Disease Study, the largest study of human risk factors to date – funded by the Bill Melinda Gates Foundation –  the number one dietary risk factor for death and disease worldwide is not eating enough fruit.

(Tracye McQuirter) Fruits are the second healthiest foods on the planet after vegetables. They’re sweet. They’re delicious. They’re full of water. They are full of fibre, very high in phytonutrients and antioxidants, and those are basically cancer-fighting, health-promoting foods.

(Craig Sechler) Humans are naturally drawn to fruit, especially ripe, sweet fruit because we’re primates – animals that evolved eating fruit in the trees. Monkeys and apes still spend much of their days searching for fruit and have been selected to prefer the ripe, sweet kind, because it contains more sugar for energy and water which can be hard to find high in the trees. That highly developed palate for sweets and the power they provide remains with us to this day.

(Tracye McQuirter) We need fructose. We need naturally occurring fructose from fruit in our diet. Fructose is a component of complex carbohydrates. Our bodies run on that fuel. We need to eat that every day.  That’s the energy we use to fuel our movements, to fuel our bodies, to function; and so we need to get those complex carbs, because that’s the engine on which we run.

(Craig Sechler) Unfortunately, the vast majority of fructose we consume today doesn’t come from fruit. Food companies realised the powerful draw of sugar decades ago and have been adding large quantities of sugar to processed foods ever since. From breads and sauces to soft drinks, sugar has become a hidden core ingredient of most modern staples. And that refined sugar is missing several critical components that are essential to our health.

(Tracey McQuirter) We eat something like white table sugar and we’re basically eating something that has been processed. It started out as a sugar cane salt and it’s been processed into white table sugar crystals. In that process, the fibre is removed and most of the nutrients are removed. So you’re basically eating empty calories. And that’s the problem with sugar. So it’s empty calories. It’s very addictive. It’s the number one added ingredient to all processed and packaged foods. Americans eat about 30 tablespoons a day.

(Dr Michael Greger) You need to realise the important difference between sugar in its natural form, the way nature intended, versus these so-called industrial sugars. The sucrose table sugar and high fructose corn syrup have a very different effect on the body. So the reason we’re concerned about sugar intake in general, this excess added sugar intake, is because pretty much liver health, high blood pressure and high triglycerides, high fat in the blood from too much sugar intake. Well, fruit intake is associated with actually the reverse. The more fruit people eat, the better liver health, better blood pressure, lower triglycerides. Diabetics on high fruit diet have better blood sugar control than diabetics with restricted fruit intake.

(Craig Sechler) The consumption of added sugar has increased rapidly since the dawn of the industrial age, leading to an epidemic of obesity, cancer and other serious illnesses. One recent study found that people who consumed roughly 20% of calories from added sugar had nearly 40% greater risk of dying from cardiovascular disease than those who ate less than 8%. These stunning findings are leading many health experts to recommend major reductions in the amount of added sugar we consume from processed foods.

(Dr Michael Greger) Ideally, you know World Health Organisation’s pushing 5% added sugars. The American Heart Association said 10%. For some people wouldn’t even allow a single can of soda a day. That’s how concerned they are about added sugar intake but they’re not talking about fruit. In fact, it’s done studies where they give people dozens of servings a day and we actually see just beneficial effects on their metabolism. So absolutely we should stuff our face our face with as many fruits and vegetables as possible, but indeed eliminate or reduce on a day-to-day basic our consumption of added industrial sugars.

(Craig Sechler) A seven-year study of more than half a million Chinese adults found that those who ate fruit regularly cut their risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by roughly 1/3rd. Even basic fruits, like oranges, provide critical phytochemicals, antioxidants and fibre, that boost our immune system and lower our blood pressure and glucose levels. But nutritionists are quick to point out that how you consume those fruits matters.

(Tracye McQuirter) What I recommend is that people eat fruit as a whole food. That’s the best way to eat it. So a whole apple instead of apple juice. A whole orange instead of orange juice. When you eat the whole fruit, you get the fibre and so what the fibre does is help to make the fructose – the natural fruit sugar that’s in the fruit – to enter your bloodstream slowly, and so it doesn’t spike your blood sugar level. If you’re just having fruit juice, you’re not getting any fibre. It’s going to spike your blood sugar, and then you’re going to crash. It’s actually very dangerous, especially for people who experience diabetes.

(Craig Sechler) In recent years, scientists have uncovered many surprising health benefits in fruits: from fighting cancer to improving memory. And, while food and nutrition companies often tout the latest benefits found in relatively rare fruits like barberries and goji berries, some of the most remarkable benefits have been found in some of the most ordinary fruits, including the ubiquitous apple.

(Dr Michael Greger) We hear a lot about exotic super fruits, but it turn out that apples, one of the most common fruits, are one of the most powerful fruits in terms of their health benefits. We’ve known for a while now that these in vitro petri dish studies show that apple peel is where most of the nutrition is – so we shouldn’t actually peel our apple – it can actually suppress cancer cell growth, human cancer cell growth. And, most exciting, a new study out of Australia followed about 1,500 women for a period of 15 years, women older than age 70, and those women that ate an apple a day or more had 35% lower risk of dying prematurely within that 15 year period compared with those that didn’t eat apples at all. Imagine if there were a drug that can decrease your risk of dying by a 1/3rd. That’s extraordinary. And that’s the kind of data that can inspire people to, you know, go to the produce aisle and see what the new exciting varieties of apples might in that way.

(Craig Sechler) Chef Kate Jacoby builds on the natural sweetness of fruits like apples to create healthy yet indulgent desserts that can satisfy even the sweetest tooth. She and her husband, Chef Rich Landau, scour the globe for exotic flavours and techniques and try out in their vegan restaurant, Vedge. For Jacoby, the biggest challenge and greatest reward is creating the ultimate plant-based treat that indulges your senses as much as mainstream desserts.

(Kate Jacoby) I love the idea of incorporating fruits and vegetables, both really, into desserts and really kind of focusing on them and not just making them into a pie filling like covered with sugar you know or like blending them into something and losing their texture. The best thing I can do is to take a fruit at the peak of its ripe season you know and showcase it with as little meddling as possible. Each year, you knew we kind of revisit certain seasonal fruits because here in Philadelphia we go through a pretty predictable cycle, so when it comes to the time of year when everybody’s looking for something like apple, we try to reinvent it sometimes. This year, we wanted to do something a little bit different like a mini apple pie. We got an apple blossom, so it does have a pastry crust but then we take slices of apple and sort of layer them in almost to the point where they look like a rose. And so when we were working on this, it smelled delicious, like all the beautiful baking spices with a little cinnamon and like a little touch of clove and a dash of allspice. They’re all coming through so nicely. Again about texture, we wanted just a little something extra in there, so we turned to walnuts to create that little mid texture, because you have like the juicy soft baked apples and then you have that crispy kind of a little bit you know tender crust. We wanted something in between, so we made a walnut frangipane to layer underneath. We’ve pulsed down the walnuts to create almost like a pastry cream to layer underneath and  in this application, the walnuts are so rich and luscious that they add a really nice like third texture. Around the dish we have a a pomegranate cider using apple cider pomegranate juice that we’re reduced down with a little bit of apple cider vinegar. So we’re trying again to create a really nice balanced dish that’s gonna speak to the season and eat in a way that you know you’re basically getting like delicious apple pie but you’re also having the great texture between creaminess from the walnut frangipane and then like the crunch of the sprinkled walnuts. We’re going for like layers of flavour and texture.

(Craig Sechler) While the common apple remains one the world’s most popular fruits, research has shown that berries, like pomegranates, strawberries and blueberries, may turn out to be the healthiest. Recent studies indicate they may be a hidden weapon against Alzheimer’s disease. They’ve also been shown to be highly effective in combating cancer, heart disease and even inflammation – a major source of many chronic diseases.

(Dr Michael Greger) Berries are the healthiest fruits. Harvard researchers found that women who ate a single servings of blueberries a week or two servings of strawberries had slower rates of cognitive decline, slower rates of brain ageing, by as much as two and a half years compared to those women that didn’t eat berries. American Cancer Society study following a hundred thousand men and women found that those that ate berries had  significantly lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.

(Tracye McQuirter) I just recommend that people eat berries every single day. They’re that healthy for you. They’re the dark leafy greens of fruit. I’m talking about blueberries, blackberries. Those are the healthiest berries of them all. The darker the berry, the healthier the fruit.

(Craig Sechler) Darker berries have more antioxidants, just like most darker fruits and vegetables. That means they can remove even more oxidising agents from our bodies that cause significant damage to ourselves over time. But experts say that they most important factor in selecting then healthiest berries is to maintain variety and not forget about the many larger and sometimes less sweet types that scientists also classify in the berry family.

(Tracey McQuirter) In addition to berries and in addition bananas and in addition apples you also want to have tomatoes. You want to have cucumbers. You want to have avocados. Avocados are loaded with healthy fats. I recommend that people eat at least one avocado every day. So again you want to have colour. That’s how you know getting all the nutrients that you need – the antioxidants, the phytonutrients. So you want to focus on adding the rainbow to your cart just as you would with vegetables.

(Craig Sechler) A growing body of research clearly indicates that eating a diverse plant-based diet, full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes, is one of the biggest steps that we can take toward improving our health. It may seem like an uphill battle because we’re bombarded by many tempting and powerful choices that can lead us astray. But experts agree that it gets easier over time, and its the small everyday decisions that could ultimately end up saving our lives.

(Tracey McQuirter) We have to take control. I know that there are food deserts out there. I know that people don’t always have access to fresh healthy food. So you do what you can. You grow your own food. You shop at farmers’ markets. You join a Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA). Knowing that whole grains are healthier. Knowing that fruit is healthy. Knowing that vegetables are healthy. Knowing that beans, nuts and seeds are healthy. You have to start somewhere. Every little bit helps, even if you are just able to do it once or twice or three times a week, that makes a huge impact on your health.

(Dr Michael Greger) We’ve been swamped with this hyper salty, hyper sweet, hyper fatty power because that’s a processed food industry’s way to kind of get us to use cheap ingredients – to eat their garbage basically. They add more salt, sugar, fat just to kind of hijack our natural biological drives; when we start going back to whole natural foods, at first you know it’s a transition in our taste, but give it a few weeks, start eating healthy and all of a sudden whole natural food actually tastes delicious. And so then you get the best of both worlds – it tastes great and you get to live longer. That’s what plant-based eating is all about.