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Are You Hooked on America's Deadly Diet? Heal Your Body with These Life-Saving Foods

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***This is a Classic CBN News Report from 2020 featuring a special interview with CBN Founder Pat Robertson and some of his favorite, timeless recipes.***

Scientists report that the Standard American Diet (SAD) causes even more deaths than smoking. This diet largely consists of ultra-processed foods loaded with chemicals, added sugars, and industrial oils. For people with serious medical issues like diabetes, heart disease, and obesity, the SAD diet is especially dangerous.

An increasing number of doctors and other health experts recommend replacing the SAD diet with one that's full of whole, plant-based foods. Whole foods are ones that are as close to their original state as possible; and plant-based foods, as the name suggests, are those that grew out of the ground.

A Grandmother's Testimony

As a young boy, Michael Greger saw how food can be medicine. When doctors couldn't treat his 65-year-old grandmother's heart disease, they sent her home to die. However, at that time she started eating a plant-based diet, reversed her heart disease, and lived to the ripe old age of 96!

Astounded by what he saw in his grandmother's life, Michael decided to help others achieve the same results. Now as a physician, Dr. Greger offers free nutrition advice, including hundreds of healthy recipes on his non-profit website,

Dr. Greger points to an increasing number of scientific studies showing a plant-based diet proves to be the healthiest of all diets for people like his grandmother who deal with heart problems. 

"Not only can heart disease be prevented and arrested with a plant-based diet," he told CBN News, "It's the only diet ever proven to reverse heart disease in the majority of patients, opening up arteries without drugs, without surgery."

slider img 2Every Small Change Can Make a Difference

Every 37 seconds someone in America dies from heart disease. Cardiologists like Dr. Deepak Talreja urge their patients to switch to a whole-food, plant-based diet before it's too late. For some patients, particularly those who've been eating processed foods for many years, they're encouraged to do the best they can.

"We try to push people towards as optimal a diet as they can really stick with," Dr. Talreja told CBN News. 

In short, he tells them to eat as many plants and as few animals as possible. He also recommends eating foods as close to their natural state as possible. For example, instead of highly processed breakfast cereal, Dr. Talreja recommends whole-grain oatmeal. He says every small change can make a difference.

"Some people are very committed and they'll fall into a program where they do 100 percent the right thing," he explained, "Some people can't do that, but if they can do the right thing 70 or 80 percent of the time that moves them closer to where they're either going to get more committed or at least get some benefits from that diet." 

Prevents Other Causes of Death

Heart disease is just one of many chronic diseases a plant-based diet has been shown to prevent or reverse. The list includes other leading causes of death including cancer, diabetes, and obesity. 

Case in point: Loma Linda, California, is the American city with the highest percentage of centenarians per capita. It's also home to the highest concentration of Seventh Day Adventists, a denomination that advocates a plant-based diet. 

READ: This Chemical in Our Food 'Will Actually Perforate the Wall of the Gut': Doc Reveals Secrets to Living Longer, Healthier

Dr. Larry Beeson, a researcher at the Loma Linda School of Public Health, analyzed over 50 years of studies done by himself and others. 

"Adventists have approximately the same proportion of people who die of cancer, heart disease or stroke," he told CBN News, "But the age that they get diagnosed is much later."

Beeson said within the Seventh Day Adventist community, people follow various plant-based diets but noted the ones who ate more plants and fewer animal products lived longer, healthier lives in general.

Different Plant-Based Diets

Here are the four major plant-based diets.

1. Vegan: 100% plant food. No animal products whatsoever
2. Vegetarian: Mostly plants but some eggs and dairy foods
3. Pescatarian: Mostly plants but some eggs, dairy and seafood
4. Flexitarian: Mostly plants but some eggs, dairy, seafood, poultry, and meat

For the last 15 years, dietician Julieanna Hever has been teaching people how to switch to a more plant-based diet, which she says can reverse Type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure, and more. 

"It reduces obesity and extra weight," she said. "It reduces medication requirements. I love to say decreasing your medication results are normal. My clients get off their medications."

In her cookbook, The Healthspan Solution, she offers recipes and tips for newcomers to this lifestyle, adding there's a bit of a learning curve.  

"I liken it to learning a new language," she said, "Anything, when you're transitioning to something major, like the way you've eaten your whole life, you just have to learn a few new words, a few new ingredients, tie them together in sentences and paragraphs and some recipes and then if you keep doing it over and over again you become fluent."  

ALSO recommended by Lorie Johnson: The How Not To Die Cookbook.

Hooked for Life

Dr. Greger says if he can get his patients to try a plant-based diet for three weeks, they're usually hooked for life. 

"They're going to sleep so much better, their digestion's better, their periods {are} less painful, they have more energy," he said, "In fact, some people say 'Oh, I felt fine, Doc,' but then they didn't realize they had chronic indigestion. They just thought it was normal to feel like this after a meal. But no, you don't know how good you're going to feel until you give it a try." 

Dr. Greger tells his patients to consume the following plant-based foods each day:

3 Servings of Beans (such as hummus, lentils, or tofu)
1 Serving of Berries 
3 Servings of Other Fruit
1 Serving of Cruciferous Vegetables (such as broccoli, cauliflower, or Brussels sprouts)
2 Servings of Greens (such as kale, romaine, or collards)
2 Servings of Other Vegetables (such as mushrooms)
1 Tablespoon of Ground Flaxseed
1 Serving of Nuts
1/4 Teaspoon of Turmeric
3 Servings of Whole Grains (such as 100% whole grain bread, oatmeal or pasta)

READ: Kill the Sugar Before It Kills You: 'Sugar Is the Source of All Chronic Disease'



Recipe for Pat Robertson's Minestrone Soup:

1 can (14.5 oz.) chicken broth, low sodium, NO MSG
1 can (approx. 15 oz.) chickpeas, drained
2 cans (15 oz. each) diced tomatoes
1 can (11-15 oz.) corn, drained
2 large red potatoes (with skins), diced
1 zucchini, diced
1 large onion, diced
3 large stalks celery, diced
1 package (10 oz.) frozen spinach
2 cups chopped kale
2 cups chopped cabbage (outer leaves preferred)
Half a 16-oz. package of frozen peas
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Worcestershire sauce, sea salt, and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients into a large pot and mix well. Bring soup to a boil, then
reduce heat, cover, and simmer for four or five hours, adding a small amount of water as needed. For a hearty meal, serve with your favorite whole-grain bread. Leftover soup can be kept in the refrigerator for up to three days. Use it as a quick heat-and-eat meal or savory first course.
• Optional: For extra spice, try one can of regular chopped or diced tomatoes and one can (10 oz.) of diced tomatoes with green chiles

Recipe for Butternut Squash, Ginger, Turmeric Soup
Courtesy of Elizabeth Lindemann

1 large butternut squash cooked (see notes)
2 tablespoons fresh ginger peeled and chopped
1 onion diced
1 tablespoon coconut oil or olive oil, or butter
2 cups chicken stock/broth or vegetable broth, for vegetarian/vegan
15 oz. canned coconut milk
kosher salt to taste
black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
roasted squash or pumpkin seeds and fresh cilantro for serving (optional)

In a large pot, sauté the ginger (2 tablespoons) and diced onion in oil (1 tablespoon) over medium heat until softened (about 3 minutes).
Add the stock (2 cups), bring to a boil.
Add the cooked butternut squash.
Stir in the can of coconut milk.
Season with salt, pepper, and turmeric (1 teaspoon).
Use an immersion blender to blend to a smooth puree (alternatively, you can use a standing blender in batches). Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
Serve topped with roasted seeds and/or fresh cilantro, if desired.

To cook the butternut squash, place it whole in your slow cooker for 3 hours on high or 6 hours on low. Remove, let cool, halve, deseed, and remove flesh from the peel. Or, purchase about 4 ½ cups cubed, raw squash and roast on an oiled pan in your oven at 425 degrees for 25 minutes or until fork-tender. 

***This story and interview were first published in February 2020

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