Superfoods

Superfoods are foods that are considered to be unusually rich in nutrients and so extremely good for our health. However, there are no set criteria for determining what is and what isn’t a superfood. Also, as there is no legal regulation of the term, it can be attributed to practically anything, by anyone. This leaves it open to exploitation.

And exploited it is! One reason for this is the fact that increasing numbers of people are now opting to live a healthy life – a crucial element of which is diet. The processed food companies are well aware of this trend and are keen to cash in.

To this end, many of the claims made for these foods are vastly exaggerated or even deliberately deceptive. While a food may well be healthy in its natural state, the processing it goes through invariably renders it much less so.

Green tea is a case in question. When this is sold unadulterated, as it should be, it contains a range of antioxidants. But it is quite common for it to be mixed with inferior teas, which make it a much less healthy product. Needless to say, this fact is kept quiet. What may have started out as a superfood, is no longer so by the time it hits the stores.

The takeaway therefore, is that you must take all claims regarding the supposed benefits of a superfood with a healthy dose of scepticism. There’s a lot of truth in the saying – if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Also, never underestimate the capacity of big business to hype ordinary products as being something out of the ordinary.

So, with that out of the way, let’s take a look at the most popular of these so-called superfoods. Some actually are super and have a place in any eating plan. Others, however, are less so as we’ll see.

Eggs

This shouldn’t come as a surprise – there are enough nutrients in an egg to turn a single fertilized cell into a baby chicken! Really, what else do you need to know? The protein in eggs is of the highest quality to be found in any food.

Eggs are also a veritable powerhouse of other nutrients – lutein and zeaxanthin being two good examples. These are carotenoids that lower the risk of age-related macular degeneration – one of the main causes of blindness. Another is choline – a nutrient known to enhance brain development and memory.

One medium sized egg provides approximately 75 calories, 7 grams of protein and 6.5 grams of fat (1.5 grams of which is saturated). It also contains iron, vitamins, minerals and the carotenoids. Overall, eggs are the most nutritious food on the planet.

Despite all this, many people are concerned about eating them because of their cholesterol content. This fear dates back many years and was sparked by the high incidence of heart disease associated with the high-fat western diet. However, while eggs do have quite a high amount of cholesterol (213 mg in a large egg), this isn’t, and never has been, a cause of heart disease. It is a fact that foods high in cholesterol are actually very good for our health.

The real culprit is the foods eaten along with eggs – processed meats such as sausage and bacon, bagels, cream cheese and highly sugared coffee, etc. All highly refined stuff loaded with unhealthy chemicals, carbohydrates and trans-fats. The egg itself actually has very little to do with it! Even if it did, the incredible amount of high quality nutrition it provides would far outweigh any negative effects. A related fact here is that eggs contain high levels of omega-3 fats that are known to be heart-protective.

The message to take from this is that eggs are perfectly safe to eat. Their cholesterol content is only an issue for people who already have a high level of it – if this is the case with you, it may be sensible to restrict the number of eggs you eat. Everyone else can eat as many as they like.

Quite apart from the nutrition they provide, eggs are also extremely satiating. For example, a three-egg omelette for breakfast is, by itself, sufficient to keep the average person going until midday. Furthermore, they are relatively low in calories so can definitely be incorporated into any weight-loss plan.

You do need to take a bit of care when buying eggs though. They are not all made equal and the major egg producers can be trusted about as far as you can throw them. This is clearly demonstrated by the labels they attach to their eggs – free-range, organic, cage-free and free-roaming are the classic examples. These are actually largely meaningless.

Take the free-range label; this can be legally applied to eggs laid by birds that are allowed to forage outside for just a few minutes a day! They are usually fed an unhealthy diet high in grains and synthetic additives but little in the way of nutrients. Furthermore, their living environment is almost always an extremely unpleasant one – over-crowded, dirty and very polluted.

It is a fact that many eggs are contaminated with drugs and chemicals. These are used by the producers to control the diseases caused by the unsanitary conditions the birds are forced to live in.

They aren’t all bad though. While the eggs from the big producers should be avoided if possible, there are many smaller outfits that do supply a quality, and ethical, product. These producers allow their birds to forage freely in the wild outdoors and eat their natural diet.

Genuine free-range eggs have darker, orange colored yolks – this indicates a higher nutrient content. The eggs from the larger outfits, however, almost always have an insipid pale yellow yolk.

The message here is that if you want the best possible return from your egg consumption, you must get the best quality eggs. Don’t bother looking in the supermarkets, you won’t find them there. Instead, you have to source local egg producers who take the time and trouble to produce the genuine article.

While on the subject of quality, you may be interested in organic eggs. A genuine organic egg is the ultimate and, ideally, is the only type you should eat. To qualify as organic, it should meet a number of criteria. The birds should be free-range and fed certified, nutrient-enhanced, organic feed. They should not be given drugs such as antibiotics (as they are raised in a healthy environment, they simply don’t need them) and they should not be exposed to chemicals in the form of pesticides, fungicides and herbicides.

When it comes to eating your eggs, ideally they will be eaten raw. This is because many of the nutrients are lost in the cooking process. However, few people are going to eat raw eggs so the next best option is to use the lowest heat you can, which basically means poaching or soft-boiling.

TIP – to determine how fresh an egg is, put it in a pan of water – fresh eggs sink to the bottom, stale eggs don’t. With a hard-boiled egg, you’ll know it’s fresh if it’s difficult to remove the shell.

Verdict
Eggs are the superfood to beat all superfoods. Quite simply, there is nothing better for you on the entire planet.

Blueberries

This North American fruit has had superfood status for quite a while now. Whether or not it actually is, of one thing there can be no dispute – blueberries are a really excellent source of vitamin K. They are also valued for their high levels of antioxidants, while some advocates claim they protect against cancers, heart disease and even loss of memory.

With regard to the heart disease claim, a well regarded study in 2014 found that people who ate three or more portions of blueberries a week, had a 25 percent lower risk of a heart attack than those who ate them no more than once a month. It is also thought that blueberries combat high blood pressure and atherosclerosis (the build-up of fatty material inside the arteries). They do this by relaxing the walls of blood vessels and so preventing hardening of the arteries – a well known cause of heart attacks and strokes.

Can blueberries prevent cancer? Well, to date there is very little evidence of this. In laboratory studies on cells and animals, blueberry extracts have been shown to reduce free radical damage that can cause cancer. However, it is not clear how well humans absorb these compounds and whether or not they have a protective effect.

With regard to its beneficial effects on memory, again, there is no conclusive evidence of this. A number of small studies have found a link between blueberry consumption and improved spatial learning and memory. However, most of these relied on small sample groups or animals, and so carry no real weight.

Blueberries have a high content of fiber, a fact that makes them important with regard to the issue of digestion. A 2013 study reported that people who ate blueberries every day for five weeks had higher levels of a type of bacteria crucial for the health of the digestive system.

Verdict
Not a superfood. The health claims for blueberries simply cannot be substantiated. That said, there is absolutely no doubt that they are extremely good for us, as they are low in calories and high in important nutrients. But then, so are most fruits!

Broccoli

A somewhat unappetising mainstay of school dinners for many years, broccoli has undergone a resurgence recently. The vegetable is a very good source of vitamins, fiber, protein, omega-3 fats, calcium, zinc, selenium, iron and niacin, to name just some.

Supposedly, it helps fight diseases such as cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. What’s the reality though?

With regard to diabetes, Broccoli has a very high content of an antioxidant called sulforaphane. This may help to alleviate the damage to small blood vessels caused by high blood sugar, as is commonly seen in people with diabetes. There is no conclusive proof of this, though. Another claim made for sulforaphane is that it can inhibit the development of colon and prostate cancers. Again, though, there is no conclusive proof of this.

There is no evidence to support claims that broccoli lowers blood pressure either. A 2012 study in which blood pressure patients were given broccoli for five weeks, found it made no difference whatsoever.

Verdict
Not a superfood. However, it does provide a range of nutrients needed for many of the body’s functions. It may also offer a small degree of protection against cancer and cardiovascular disease due to its sulforaphane content.

Oily Fish

Oily fish are a very good source of protein, vitamin D,  selenium and B vitamins. They are also high in omega-3 fats – a type of fat that’s very good for our health, and which most people don’t get enough of.

It’s a known fact that Eskimos have a much lower incidence of cardiovascular disease than people in the western hemisphere. It’s also a fact that they have a diet high in oily fish. So not surprisingly, this has sparked research into the health benefits offered by these types of fish. The results show quite clearly that fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines do offer protection against this disease.

Furthermore, they also lower blood pressure. The evidence is conclusive enough for the UK government to recommend that people should eat at least two portions of fish a week, one of which should be an oily variety.

There is also evidence to show that eating oily fish several times a week reduces the risk of age-related macular degeneration – a common cause of blindness in older people. However, a study to see whether fish oil supplements could reduce the progression of macular degeneration in people who already had the condition failed to find any evidence that it did.

A study in 2011 investigated the possibility that omega-3 fats may reduce the risk of dementia. The conclusion was that there is no preventative effect.

A number of studies have claimed that eating oily fish can offer protection against cancer – prostate, bowel and breast in particular. However, these tests have all had limitations that mean they cannot be considered conclusive one way or the other.

Verdict
Definitely a superfood. Eating oily fish offers clear and proven protection against cardiovascular disease. It’s good for us in many other ways as well. The only reservation is that our oceans are heavily polluted with toxins such as mercury.

For this reason, we recommend eating the smaller varieties, such as sardines, anchovies, herring, etc, which don’t live long enough to be affected by the toxins. Two or three servings a week is enough. The larger fish, such as tuna and king mackerel, should be avoided because of the toxins they almost certainly contain.

Green Tea

After water, tea is the most popular beverage in the world. In the western nations, it accounts for about 12 percent of all tea consumed. Interestingly, few people are aware that, regardless of the various names given to them, all teas come from the same plant. This is an evergreen shrub called Camellia Sinensis.

What differentiates the various types of tea is the method of production; to be specific, the degree of oxidation they are exposed to. Black teas are exposed to a high level of oxidation, whereas green teas are not. The lower level of oxidation is thought to result in less of the tea’s nutrients being lost during the manufacturing process.

Green tea is an excellent source of a powerful family of antioxidants called polyphenols, a range of vitamins, and minerals such as zinc and selenium. Popular in Chinese medicine for centuries, it has been used to treat a whole range of ailments.

Having only recently been elevated to the list of so-called superfoods, just what is green tea really good for though? Well, if you believe everything you read, quite a lot actually. It offers protection against cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, it aids in weight loss, and lowers blood pressure. If the latter is true, it will help people suffering from cardiovascular disease.

Let’s look at the cancer claim first. Ten years ago, a major review of data taken from a number of studies involving over a million participants, tried to find a link between green tea and cancers of the prostate, bowel, lungs and mouth. None was found.

Green tea contains a powerful antioxidant called catechin which is said to promote weight loss by increasing the body’s metabolism. This causes calories to be burnt at a faster rate. One study has claimed people who drink green tea burn up to an extra 70-100 calories per day. It neglected to say how much green tea they had to consume to achieve this though!

Most blood pressure drugs work by reducing the effects of an enzyme called Angiotensin II. Compounds in green tea are touted as having the same capability. A 2015 survey of data taken from previous studies found evidence of a modest reduction in blood pressure in people who consumed green tea. It was not enough to be considered significant though.

Green tea is claimed to be an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. Supposedly, this is due to its high level of antioxidants. However, there is no conclusive evidence to back this up.

Verdict
Not a superfood. It’s a pleasant drink and very good for us in a number of ways. But that’s it.

Kale

Kale has rapidly established itself as one of the most popular health foods. A member of the cruciferous vegetable family, it comes with a lot of nutrients. These include vitamins (A, C and K in particular), fiber, omega-3 fats (unusual in a vegetable) and protein.

The health benefits claimed for kale are too long to list here but the main ones are that it has excellent anti-inflammatory properties, it fights a number of cancers, is effective against diabetes, can improve eyesight and is good for heart health.

The reason touted for it being so effective as an anti-inflammatory agent is that it is high in vitamin K. While there is no dispute about this, the fact is all dark green leafy vegetables are high in vitamin K. There is absolutely nothing special about kale in this respect.

With regard to cancer, studies show that compounds found in kale can help fight a range of them, including those of the lung, bladder, breast, colon and liver. However, these have all been done on rodents. Studies done on humans show mixed results – some showing a link and others not showing any.

Kale is good source of antioxidants. These fight free radicals in the body that are thought to cause diseases such as diabetes. However, once again, all fruits and vegetables are high in antioxidants, and so have the same beneficial effect with regard to diabetes and other diseases. This applies to heart disease as well.

Good eyesight is another supposed benefit of kale. This is because it is high in carotenoids, such as lutein and zeaxanthin which promote vision and the health of the retina. But, once again, it turns out that while this is true, it is also true of all dark green leafy vegetables.

Verdict
Kale is definitely not a superfood. Like all cruciferous vegetables, it is very good for you but that’s as far as it goes – there is absolutely nothing stand-out about it.

Nuts

Packed with protein, minerals, vitamins and fiber, nuts, just like eggs, are powerhouses of nutrition. There are many types, most offering both general and specific health benefits. One thing common to all of them is a very high fat content. It’s the fear that this will make them put on weight that prevents many people from eating them.

However, studies have shown quite clearly that eating nuts does not cause weight gain – in fact, as part of a sensible and controlled diet, they actually do the opposite – make you lose weight. This is because they are satiating and so suppress the body’s hunger signals.

As nuts are such an important source of high quality nutrients, we’ll take a brief look at the main types and see what they have to offer:

Almonds – almonds are a great source of bone-building calcium and so are ideal for people who don’t eat dairy products for whatever reason. They are also high in vitamin E and other antioxidants that nourish the skin and reduce signs of aging.

Almonds have compounds called flavonoids in their skin that are known to improve artery health and reduce inflammation – good for maintaining a healthy heart. Of all the nuts, almonds are also the best source of protein.

Brazil Nuts – a key nutrient provided by brazil nuts is a mineral called selenium. This is critical to several body functions, such as the prevention of damage to the thyroid gland, combating inflammation, and the production of DNA. It’s also important for the liver and kidneys. Three or four nuts a day provides all the selenium we need.

Brazil nuts are high in calories and so are a good source of instant energy – this makes them ideal for people who are active.

Cashews – cashews are a very rich source of minerals – copper and magnesium especially. The latter is known to be important for memory recall, brain function, keeping blood pressure under control and reducing the risk of migraine attacks. Copper is used in the production of skin, bone, and hair pigments called melanin and collagen. Amongst many other things, these help provide our skin’s elasticity.

Cashews also contain flavanols that inhibit the ability of cancer cells to divide and multiply, so reducing the incidence of some types of cancer.

Chestnuts – nutrition-wise, there’s nothing special about chestnuts. They do, however, have an extremely high level of fiber which makes them a low-glycemic index food. Accordingly, they can help to regulate glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

They also have less fat and calories than any other nut. This makes them an ideal addition to a weight-loss diet. When ground up, they form a gluten-free flour that can be used for baking.

Hazelnuts – hazelnuts are rich in calcium, potassium and magnesium. These are minerals that provide a range of health benefits, a very important one of which is the maintenance of healthy blood pressure.

Hazelnuts are also rich in oleic acid – this is known to lower blood sugar and insulin levels, and so helps to minimize the effects of diabetes.

Pecans – just one ounce of pecans provides 8 percent of the recommended daily amount of fiber. They are also one of the most antioxidant-rich foods in the world.

As with hazelnuts, pecans are high in oleic acid and so are good for people with diabetes. Many of the minerals found in pecans are very good for the brain.

Recent research has found that some nutrients in pecans can be helpful to people suffering from osteoporosis. They do this by increasing bone mass and reducing bone loss.

Walnuts – of all the nuts, walnuts are the best with regard to the heart. This is because of their rich content of omega-3, 6 and 9 fats. Omega-3 fat is also known to be good for cognitive function which means walnuts feed the brain as well.

Studies have shown that a handful of walnuts a day cuts the risk of both breast and prostate cancer. The same handful also has a significant impact on male fertility, i.e. sperm quality. This is one of the lesser known benefits of walnuts.

Pistachios – grown mainly in the Middle East, pistachios are lower in calories than most nuts. This makes them ideal for people who are trying to lose weight, as well as improve their diet. Nutrition-wise, as with nuts in general, they provide a range of minerals plus a large amount of protein.

However, one issue with these nuts is that the majority of them are bleached before being marketed. This is done to hide unsightly staining on the shells caused by the harvesting process. Not only can this leave bleach residues on the nuts, important phytochemicals in their skins are destroyed. For this reason, it is recommended that you eat only organically grown pistachio nuts.

Macadamias – macadamias are the most nutrient-rich of all the nuts. They provide high amounts of manganese, magnesium, iron and copper, plus several B vitamins. They are also low in carbohydrates and protein while being high in omega-3 fats.

100 grams of macadamias provides 20 percent of the daily recommended amount of fiber. They are also a very good source of phytosterols – these help to regulate cholesterol levels.

They are, however, the nut with the highest calorie count.

Verdict
Superfood. Nuts are a superb source of unsaturated fats, fiber, vitamin E, antioxidants and omega-3 fats. This makes them one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. Eating a handful of mixed nuts every day is one of the best things you can do if you are seeking a long and healthy life.

Avocados

Native to Central/South America and classified as a fruit, avocados are yet another of nature’s products that positively brim with health-giving nutrients.

As with nuts, these green fruits are an excellent source of monounsaturated fats. They provide close to twenty essential nutrients, including vitamins A, C and E, B-vitamins and folic acid. They are also a rich source of potassium (twice the amount found in bananas). The fruits also provide a high amount of fiber, which is another very good reason to eat them.

Benefits claimed for avocados include protection against cancer and heart disease. Another is that the fruit has anti-inflammatory properties.

How good are they really though? Well, firstly, their high content of monounsaturated fats makes avocados extremely satiating (just one provides half a person’s daily fiber requirement). Not only that, they provide a lot of energy – this enables you to cut down on carbohydrates should your weight be an issue.

Their high fat content also enables the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients from other foods eaten in conjunction. Furthermore, it is a well-known fact that monounsaturated fat offers protection against heart disease, and also lowers blood pressure.

With regard to cancer, several studies have been done in an attempt to find a link. One of these concluded that phytochemicals in avocados make them potentially beneficial for inhibiting the development of oral and prostate cancer. A 2015 study showed an antioxidant called lutein, which is high in avocados, may reduce the risk of developing breast cancer.

Avocados contain chemicals called phytosterols that have anti-inflammatory properties known to be good for treating osteoarthritis – a condition suffered by millions of people worldwide.

Tip – many of the nutrients found in avocados are in the dark green part of the fruit just under the skin.

Verdict
Superfood. Avocados contain too many healthy fats and nutrients, such as lutein, oleic acid, vitamins, folate, fiber, monounsaturated fats and antioxidants, to be anything but.

Chia Seeds

Originating in Mexico, chia seeds are becoming one of the most popular foods with the health-conscious. Supposedly, they offer a huge array of nutrients that include vitamins, protein, fiber, antioxidants, minerals and healthy fats.

So what are they good for? Well, if you believe the claims made for them, they have anti-aging properties, are good for the heart, the digestive system, bones and teeth, plus they help with diabetes and weight loss.

Chia seeds have a high content of antioxidants, which neutralize free radicals (damaged body cells) that, amongst other things, cause damage to the skin. So they may be helpful in this respect. There is no proof of this though.

Chia seeds provide more omega-3 fats than salmon. This has led many people to think they must therefore be very good for the heart. However, while they undoubtedly are, it’s a fact that plant-based omega-3 fats are not as good as those from animal sources.

With a high fiber content, chia seeds can be nothing else than extremely good for our digestive systems. There is no dispute here.

With regard to bones and teeth, they do have a high level of the necessary nutrients – calcium, protein, magnesium and phosphorus. In fact, chia seeds provide more calcium than most dairy products. This makes them a very good source of this essential mineral for people who don’t eat dairy for whatever reason.

There is research that suggests chia seeds lower blood sugar levels, and so can help control diabetes. However, there is no evidence that this is actually the case.

Verdict
Chia seeds may be a superfood. The main issue with the many health claims made for them is the lack of conclusive evidence. The few studies done have been mainly on animals. However, superfood or not, they do make a very worthwhile addition to any diet.

Coconut Oil

The coconut tree is thought to originate in South America. The oil, taken from the pressed meat of the coconuts, has only recently gained superfood status. Bear this fact in mind when you evaluate the various claims made for its supposed benefits. These include heart health, weight loss, improving digestion, treating Alzheimer’s disease  and many others.

Coconut oil contains more saturated fat than butter, lard and beef tallow (no less than 90 percent of it is fat). It has no carbohydrates or protein and only minute amounts of a few assorted nutrients.

However, as we’ve mentioned elsewhere, saturated fat is not the demon it’s made out to be; it is, in fact, very good for us – in small amounts. So when consumed in said small amounts, the fat content of coconut oil is nothing to be alarmed about. That’s the first thing.

The second is that 50 percent of this saturated fat is lauric acid – a medium-chain fatty acid (MCFA) that has several health-promoting properties. One of these is that it increases the rate at which we burn calories. For this reason, coconut oil is being touted as a means of losing weight. A recent study has suggested that this might actually be the case. However, it only involved a few subjects so cannot be taken too seriously.

Still with lauric acid, when the liver breaks it down, ketones are created that can be used as fuel by the brain. There is a current theory that because these ketones supply energy to the brain, thus eliminating the need for insulin to convert glucose into energy, coconut oil is an effective treatment for people with Alzheimer’s. While there may be something in this, a study has yet to be done that actually proves it.

MCFAs are also thought to boost digestive health. This is because they are easily absorbed in the digestive tract, plus they apparently help other nutrients to be absorbed as well. If so, it follows that people with digestive disorders, like Crohn’s disease, will benefit from eating coconut oil.

Verdict
Not a superfood by any stretch of the imagination. There are no conclusive studies that prove otherwise. In fact, for some people coconut oil could even be dangerous due to its extremely high content of saturated fat. If you’re looking for a healthy oil, go with olive oil which has proven benefits.

Turmeric

A spice native to Southern Asia, turmeric has a deep orange-gold color, and is widely used for cooking and as a coloring agent (it is the main ingredient in curry powder). Before use, it is usually dried, boiled and then ground into a powder. It has been used for centuries in China where it is considered to have medicinal qualities.

One of the main claims made for turmeric is that it is rich in a compound called curcumin – this is thought to give it anti-inflammatory properties. Some studies indicate curcumin may be effective at fighting Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.

Other studies show it has a high content of antioxidants that fight and neutralize the free radicals in our bodies that can be the cause of so many illnesses.

However, it’s a known fact that turmeric is not easily absorbed by the body. Therefore, to get any worthwhile benefits from it, assuming there are any, you would need to consume so much of the stuff there would almost certainly be side effects. It is also a fact that many of the studies done have involved conflicts of interest, i.e. researchers with vested interests in the results (was it ever thus!)

Verdict
Not a superfood. As is so often the case, the claims made for this undoubtedly tasty spice are overblown. There simply aren’t any studies that provide conclusive proof for any of them.

Yellowtooth Diet Plan

To understand the rationale behind the Yellowtooth Diet Plan, it is necessary to first take a look at the foods we have been eating over the years, why we have been eating them and what they have done to us. The story starts not that long ago – we’re only going back to the first half of the 1900’s. This was a volatile time in world history, what with the two world wars, the Russian civil war, the Afghan civil war and the Mexican revolution. There were plenty of lesser conflicts as well.

Food would have been scarce anyway because the methods used in agriculture and farming were basic and inefficient. The various wars made it even scarcer. However, although it may not have seemed so at the time, this was not necessarily a bad thing for some. With food limited, people who would perhaps have over-eaten and become overweight, or even obese, simply weren’t able to do so. As a result, the incidence of heart disease and strokes was low.

The end of the second world war saw things improve rapidly. Industry and farming became increasingly mechanized and, hence, efficient. Chemical pesticides and new types of fertilisers were developed which enabled farmers to vastly increase crop yields. Within a very short period, food shortages in the western world were a thing of the past.

The foods commonly eaten at this time were high in saturated animal fat – red meat, cheese, butter, full-fat milk, lard and cream. They were rich in nutrients and also nice to eat. However, food wasn’t the only thing that was plentiful – cardiovascular diseases were now as well.

In fact, by the late 1950’s, heart disease was pandemic in the USA and rapidly becoming so in countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain. In an attempt to discover why, government agencies were commissioned to investigate and find solutions. One of these studies – the Seven Countries Study – was conducted in 1958 by a scientist called Ancel Keys. This focused on the link between diet and cardiovascular disease in different countries. The study concluded that the countries where people ate the most saturated fat had the highest rates of heart disease – the connection seemed obvious.

However, for some reason, Keys ignored a number of contradictory facts. One was that in some of the countries, such as Holland and Norway, fat consumption was high but rates of heart disease were low. But in other countries, such as Chile, fat consumption was low but the rates of heart disease were high. Basically, Keys disregarded anything that didn’t support his theory.

However, the American Heart Association allowed itself to be convinced by Keys thus giving credence to the flawed study. Massive exposure in the media followed and, very quickly, the demonisation of saturated fat began. Suddenly, it was all ‘fat and cholesterol are bad for you’ and ‘carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables and grains are good’. This was the beginning of the obesity epidemic currently sweeping around the globe.

If people had stuck to eating mostly fruit and vegetables there wouldn’t have been a problem. Not only is the carbohydrate content of both these food groups much less than that of grains, it is also digested by the body at a much lower rate thanks to their high fiber content. Unfortunately, they didn’t. Instead, they latched on to carbohydrate-rich grains. Most foods produced from wheat, barley, rye, oats, etc, go through an industrial process that removes virtually all their fiber, vitamins and minerals. While they provide energy in the form of calories, they offer very little in the way of nutrition – they are basically just empty calories.

The other problem with them is that they are quickly and easily digested by the body – often in as little as two hours – a process that should take between six and eight hours! Because the body turns carbohydrates into glucose (sugar), the result is a rapid increase in both blood sugar level and insulin. After an hour or two, the blood sugar level will drop back and, in so doing, stimulate the parts of the brain associated with reward and craving. These signals create a craving for more food and are a known cause of over-eating.

Now, if the person eating the carbohydrate is active to a sufficient enough degree, the body will use the glucose for fuel and simply burn it off. However, if not, the glucose won’t be used and the body will instead store it as fat for use in emergencies such as famine – just what nature has programmed it to do.

Now, couple the above with the following:

Firstly, people lead sedentary lifestyles these days. Indeed, they spend most of their time sitting down. They sit in their offices at work, they sit in buses, cars and trains, they sit at the movies, they sit on the beach and they spend their evenings sitting in front of the TV. Much of the time they’re doing this sitting, they are eating and drinking and, therefore, taking in shed-loads of calories that their bodies simply don’t need. The inevitable consequence is that they put on weight.

Secondly, it is a fact that many of the most popular foods and drinks on the planet consist mainly of carbohydrates, i.e. bread, cakes, rice, biscuits, pasta, pizzas, pastries, fruit drinks, sports drinks, etc. These are all naturally very high in calories, a fact that is compounded by the food manufacturers adding large amounts of refined sugar to make them more palatable. This makes these already fattening foods even more fattening.

Thirdly, regardless of what they are consuming, people these days are simply consuming far too much of it. It’s understandable enough as eating and drinking are activities that we all enjoy; many of us however, are overdoing it. Another factor in this is the ready availability of food these days – if you have the money, you can have as much of it as you want, when you want.

The way we live our lives has had an effect as well. Years ago, eating was largely restricted to set mealtimes of breakfast, lunch and dinner. Now, with the instant availability of processed foods, people snack at all hours of the day and night, as well as eating at mealtimes.

This last point takes us back to the processed food industry, which is so vast these days that it basically rules the world. As a result, their high-carbohydrate foods are everywhere – restaurants, supermarkets, stores, bus stations, airports – you name it and processed food will be there. It’s so ubiquitous, in fact, that many people just don’t bother cooking any more. As we have shown here, the processed food industry is also extremely dishonest and packs its products with vast amounts of sugar, the presence of which it tries to conceal with sneaky product labeling. Because of this, many people are completely unaware of the horrifically high calorific content of the foods they are consuming.

And so to the situation as it is today. Since the 1980’s, the number of overweight and obese adults in the developed world has quadrupled to around one billion. One in three adults is overweight. In western countries, such as the USA and the UK, the situation is even worse as two-thirds of adults are overweight. Of these, one in three is considered to be obese and one in twenty is considered to be extremely obese. With regard to children and adolescents, the situation is not much better.

These people all have a much higher risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attacks and strokes, which are now the leading causes of premature death in the world. They are also much more likely to get type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and osteoarthritis, not to mention cancers such as breast, colon, endometrial and kidney.

As we have pointed out, there are several factors at play here, such as sedentary lifestyles and the over-abundance of food. However, the main one is the fact that refined carbohydrates are a highly fattening food and, of these, the worst is sugar. Therefore, the Yellowtooth Diet Plan is based on eating foods that either don’t contain any carbohydrates or are very low in them. Merely cutting out sugar in its most obvious forms is not enough.

You need to remember that your body converts all the carbohydrates you eat to sugar in the form of glucose – so, those carbs have to go! While the plan eliminates a lot of the foods people have become accustomed to over the years, and will therefore miss enormously at the beginning of it, the hard fact remains that these foods are basically empty calories that provide little or no nutrition. They are also the foods that make people put on weight – that’s the bottom line!

What the diet does permit is a range of more natural foods that provide all the nutrients needed to fuel the body and keep it operating at it’s maximum capacity. At the same time, the vastly reduced intake of carbohydrates means it is not constantly making the glucose sugar that invariably leads to the creation of body fat. Not only will it make you feel younger, it may even make you look younger!

The foods we are talking about here are non-starchy vegetables, low-sugar fruits, nuts and seeds, fish, meat, eggs, spices, herbs, full-fat dairy products and some types of vegetable oil. With the exception of the vegetables, herbs, fruits and spices, they all contain high amounts of healthy fats.

To people raised on the old belief that eating fat makes you fat, this may make the diet sound contradictory but it’s not. All the evidence now actually indicates the opposite – eating fat is good for you (and not fattening) as long as you eat the right type and in the right quantities.

The diet is also adaptable – it can be tweaked to suit your requirements. If it’s rapid weight loss you want, the diet in its most extreme form will deliver weight loss in the region of half a pound a day. Combine it with intermittent fasting and you will lose even more.

At the other end of the scale, for those of you who are already at the right weight and just want to eat a healthy diet as a lifestyle choice, the Yellowtooth Diet Plan can, again, be the one to follow. In this case, instead of virtually no carbohydrates, it’s quite possible to introduce a limited range of them. Remember, there are many carbohydrate-rich foods that are actually good for you. These include fruits, legumes such as lentils, beans and peas, and whole grains, such as oats, quinoa and brown rice.

Not only do these foods increase the options available to you, and so make the diet more varied and easier to persevere with, they provide a vital nutritional resource – fiber. You can even eat some carbohydrates that aren’t particularly good for you; bread being a typical example.

The big no-no on the Yellowtooth Diet Plan is processed food. Basically, anything that comes in a box, packet or tin is processed to one degree or another. The nutritional value of this type of food is usually very poor. Plus, of course, it is invariably packed with carbs and hence calories.

Losing Weight With The Yellowtooth Diet Plan
We have looked at the most popular diet plans and while they all have their pros and cons, none of them in our opinion are as good as they could be. For example, the Atkins and Ducan diets that restrict fiber intake in the early stages to a level that’s low enough to be potentially dangerous.

A lot of them try to make you lose weight at a rate that is not good for you. To achieve this, these diets are extreme – in some cases, they forbid entire classes of food. So not only can they actually be bad for you, they can also be difficult to persevere with. The Yellowtooth Diet Plan is different in a number of ways.

Firstly, and unlike other diets, it is healthy and includes all the nutrients your body needs in order to keep firing on all cylinders. This is in stark contrast to some that actually do the opposite!

Secondly, while not designed to be a weight-loss diet as such, it is a fact that overweight people who follow it will lose weight as sure as night follows day. However, unlike with most other diets, the weight loss will be slow, steady, easily sustainable and, ultimately, much healthier.

Please note that the Yellowtooth Diet Plan is just part of what you need to do to get your body as fit and healthy as possible. The other part is exercise and this is every bit as important as the foods you eat and don’t eat. That’s another story though.

So, let’s take a look at the foods you can and cannot eat on this plan.

Meat
White meat such as chicken is the favored option as it contains less calories than red meat. This is due to its lower fat content. If you prefer red meat though, you need to choose carefully. Go for leaner cuts and trim off as much of the fat as you can.

Of the red meats, beef is the highest in calories with pork and lamb having slightly less. The red meat with the least amount of calories is game animals, such as deer, elk, rabbits, etc.

As regards processed meat, this must be given a wide berth – the processing leaves all types high in calories. The worst are the sausages, such as salami, hot dogs, bologna and chipolata. Not only are they padded-out with highly fattening starches, they contain unhealthy additives.

Seafood
Nutrition-wise, there is little to choose between red/white meat and seafood. However, seafood has the edge with regard to it’s fat content which is much less. As low fat means low calories, this makes seafood an extremely good option for the dieter. There are many different types though – which ones do you go for? Unsurprisingly, the answer is the species with the least fat content – namely, cod, flounder, sole, hake, haddock, pollock and shellfish.

The species with the highest amount of fat, and so the highest calories, are the oily fish like herring, mackerel, sardines and salmon.

Note that with most fish species, the color of the flesh is an indication of their fat content. The leanest species have a white or light color and the fattier species usually have a darker color.

Luckily, the low-calorie fish also happen to be the ones least affected by mercury and other sea contaminants.

Dairy Produce
Let’s start with milk. The skimmed type, from which all the cream has been removed, is the lowest in calories. It is, however, tasteless – little more than water. If you can stomach the stuff, fine; if not, the next best option and the one we recommend, is low-fat milk. While it may have more calories, it does at least have some flavor and nutritional content. Whole and raw milk should be avoided when on a weight-loss diet.

Moving on to cheese, this is in general a high calorie food that is not the best thing to be eating when trying to lose weight. With this in mind, you may be tempted by the low-fat cheeses on the supermarket shelves. Take our advice and give these a miss. Virtually all foods labeled as ‘low-fat’ are the processed food industry’s attempt to cash in on the current trend for healthy eating. While foods given this label may indeed be low in fat, don’t think for a minute they will also be low in calories – they won’t!

However, one cheese in particular is naturally low in calories and so can be incorporated into a weight-loss diet. This is cottage cheese which has only 98 calories per 100g. At the other end of the scale are the hard cheeses such as cheddar and monterey jack – these contain over 400 calories per 100gm and are definitely to be avoided.

The situation with butter is largely the same as with cheese. It is simply too high in calories to be part of a weight-loss diet. There are products marketed as low-fat butter but these are usually spreads made with vegetable oils and margarine. As with low-fat cheeses, steer well clear.

Another very popular dairy food is yoghurt. Is it ok in a weight-loss diet though? Well, there’s no question that the fruit yoghurts are high in calories, typically in the region of 250 calories per carton. Plain yoghurts on the other hand, of which Greek is an example, only have about 150 calories in a carton – much better. Once again, give the low-fat versions a miss – many of these contain alarming amounts of sugar.

Nuts
Nuts are extremely nutritious and offer vitamins, minerals, fiber and protein. They  also have a lot of fat though, which gives them a high calorie count. On the face of it, this would seem to make them one of the last things to include in a weight-loss diet. However, this isn’t the case. There’s plenty of evidence to show that dieters who eat a small quantity of nuts are more likely to stick to their diets. This is because the fat and fiber content of the nuts is extremely satiating and, as a result, they are not as hungry and, ultimately, eat less.

The key to it is portion control. All you need to eat is about one ounce of nuts per day – this equates to just one handful. With almonds, brazils, cashews, pistachios and walnuts, this will be about 170 calories. Peanuts have the lowest calories – 150, while pecans and macadamias are the highest at about 200 calories.

Vegetables
Vegetables are the dieter’s best friend. Very low in calories so you can eat as much of them as you like and, at the same time, high in satiating fiber. Really, what more could you ask for?

First on your diet plan should be leafy greens, such as kale and spinach. They are incredibly nutritious and very high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Next are the cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and cabbage. You should also eat peppers – hot peppers like chilli particularly. They contain a substance called capsaicin which has been shown to help reduce appetite and increase the body’s ability to burn fat.

The vegetables you don’t want be eating are the root varieties – carrots, potatoes, parsnips, etc. These contain more starch and so are higher in calories.

Fruit
Fruits of all types are very good for us. They do, however, have an inherent problem – they all contain sugar to one degree or another. Some have a lot more than others and so can be quite high in calories. The key to including fruit in a diet plan, therefore, is knowing which types to avoid.

In the list of fruits below, the figures given are the calorie content in 100 grams of fruit.

The fruits with the lowest calorie count are:

  • rhubarb 21
  • strawberries 33
  • honeydew melon 36
  • peaches 39
  • blackberries 43
  • nectarines 44
  • cranberries 46
  • oranges 47

Fruits with a medium calorie count are:

  • apricots 48
  • cherries 50
  • pineapples 50
  • apples 52
  • raspberries 53
  • tangerines 53
  • pears 57
  • blueberries 57

Fruits with a high calorie count are:

  • mangoes 60
  • kiwifruit 61
  • grapes 67
  • guavas 68
  • bananas 89
  • figs 107
  • dates 280

Be aware that dried fruits like raisins, sultanas, prunes, figs and dates have the highest sugar count of all. They most definitely should not be part of a weight-loss diet.

The nutrients in fruit are simply too good to miss out on, even when dieting. Accordingly, we recommend that the low calorie fruits should be part of your diet. The relatively small amount of sugar they contain is nothing to worry about.

Carbohydrates
Foods made from refined carbs are simply not worth eating – all the nutrients have been stripped out, they’re starchy, full of sugar, and additives are needed to make them palatable. However, this doesn’t apply to carbohydrates left in their natural state. The main thing these offer to the dieter is fiber. As with the fiber in nuts and vegetables, this is filling and so acts as a powerful appetite suppressant. Accordingly, diets that include them are easier to adhere to.

It is a fact that fruits, vegetables and nuts all contain carbohydrates, and a diet rich in these foods will provide everything you need in this respect. However, you may have reasons of your own for limiting your consumption of them or, indeed, not wanting to eat them at all. If this is the case, there are several carb-rich foods that will be the perfect substitute. The ones we’re talking about are legumes (lentils, beans and peas), whole-wheat pasta, oatmeal, whole-wheat bread and brown rice. Another good reason for including them in your diet is to add variety. Just remember they are quite starchy and so should be consumed in small amounts.

Liquids
With regard to what you can drink on a weight loss diet, there’s only one contender really and that’s water – lots of it. It’s absolutely the best thing you can drink. The worst are soda drinks, juice drinks, sports & energy drinks and alcohol. Very few people, though, are going to stick rigidly to water and nothing else. Nor is there any need to.

Smoothies, which we look at here, provide a very good alternative. Just remember to leave out ingredients high in calories.

The most popular drink in the world next to water is tea. When flavorings and additives are added, such as sugar, milk, herb extracts, oils, etc, it’s calorific content goes up. Taken by itself, however, it is virtually calorie-free and can be drunk in any amount. In this form, it should be part of any diet.

Vegetable juices are another good option. These require a juicing machine as we describe here. Just don’t over-do it – too much of a concentrated dose of vegetable nutrients isn’t recommended.

Currently, coconut water is very popular. This is the clear liquid found inside a green coconut. It’s a healthy drink that has plenty of nutrients. It is also relatively low in calories so can be taken in reasonable quantities. Just remember not to confuse it with coconut milk. Higher in fat and calories, a cup of coconut milk is about 550 calories compared to about 50 calories in a cup of coconut water.

The fruit drinks and squashes available in the stores all have an extremely high sugar content and so have no place in any diet. However, there’s no reason dieters can’t make their own – it’s just fruit squeezed into water after all. By doing so, they can adjust the amount of fruit and, hence sugar, it contains.

Lastly, there is alcohol. There’s no question it shouldn’t be drunk at all, never mind on a diet. However, it is a fact that many people can’t get through life without it. So, for these people, the best options are light beers, wine (both red and white) and neat spirits. Give all alcoholic drinks that contain mixers a miss – this is where most of the calories come from. Sweetened drinks like cider are strictly taboo as well. Never, ever, go near the frozen alcoholic drinks you see in the supermarkets – these are liquid sugar!

Be aware that the calories in alcoholic drinks are not just down to the sugar they contain – their carbohydrate content is also a factor. Beer is a good example of this – virtually no sugar but, thanks to the carbohydrate content, quite high in calories.