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The Food Pharmacy Guide to Good Eating.

Unabashedly, the author says that food is medicine and marshalls an army of facts to assail any opposing forces who attempt to disdain or ridicule her assertions.

Garlic can ward off heart attacks. Cinnamon can stimulate the secretion of insulin. Cabbage (or coleslaw) has cancer-inhibiting properties, and beta carotene in foods (deep-orange vegetables, and deep green leafy vegetables) will reduce the dangers of smoking. These represent only a small portion of the copious doses of information Carper's book contains. For the most part, she is accurate in her assessments.

Not as easy to accept is her advocacy of the use of sugar, that it "helps to build strong bones." The reference is to a research team which found that 10 grams of glucose sugar taken with calcium increased the body's uptake of calcium nearly 25 percent. We have not found any other studies that either arrived at the same conclusion or advocated sugar for a lifetime diet.

Her other recommendations seem to have validity because the same conclusions have been advanced by a host of studies. Food as a bulwark against free radicals, the principle of antioxidant nutrition, is gaining scientific acknowledgment. Practically all fresh vegetables could be considered antioxidant in their ability to reduce oxygen free radicals, cancer-causing substances in the blood stream. Free radicals also contribute to making cholesterol toxic.

Although Carper is not a vegetarian, she acknowledges that there is a "vegetarian advantage." "Nothing looks surer in the food pharmacy," she writes, "than the powers of fruits and vegetables to ward off disease and prolong life. Fruits and vegetables are full of exotic health promoting compounds that boost bodily defense against disease. "Undeniably, vegetarians who eat lots of plant foods have an impressive health advantage." Carper urges the eating of fruits and vegetables -- at least five servings a day.

High-fiber food and its importance to good health is no longer rare news. The author, however, emphasizes their value in preventing and curing many disorders. Our population is suffering from an "epidemic" of chronic digestive problems -- just count the number of television commercials for digestive aids! The author quotes medical authorities who view the disorder as a link to even more serious conditions, such as irritble bowel disorder and constipation.

Once again, the prescription for high-fiber ingestion is to include more food containing roughage, such as legumes, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds.

Stroke has been in the news lately. "Take an aspirin a day (to thin the blood) or eat more fish or fish oil tablets (also to thin the blood)," are typical recommendations by many physicians. Carper provides a safe alternative that harbors no such blood-thinning dangers: the use of potassium-containing foods.

Potassium is a regulator of blood pressure (a supposition that is causing more physicians to deal with potassium depletion in addition to the high sodium problem in hypertension).

She reminds us that cantaloupe, baked potatoes, apricots, dired beans, almonds, peanuts, beet greens, seeds, some nuts, and bananas are delicious food rich in potassium.

Jean Carper is a passionate advocate of olive oil because all of its virtues (and seemingly no liabilities) dovetail into a regimen for an ideal diet. She quotes research that is impressive, olive oil's ability to reduce cholesterol, regulate blood sugar levels, and diminish buildup of plaque in the artery walls.

For every one of her advocacies, Carper provides recipes appropriate to those nutritional principles.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Vegetus Publications
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Nutrition Health Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 22, 1992
Words:563
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