Topic summary contributed by volunteer(s): Randy

Dr. Walter Willet, the Department of Nutrition Chair at Harvard University has pointed out that plant protein sources are healthier than animal sources. He has also recommended limiting consumption of coconut oil to prevent a rise in bad cholesterol.

Earning a high score on the Alternative Eating Index, developed by Harvard faculty members, can lower macular degeneration risk.

Like London School and Stanford counterparts, Harvard researchers have found exercise may be as effective as medications in treating heart disease, stroke, and in preventing diabetes. Harvard research has resulted in other key findings such as eating nuts regularly may lower total mortality risk; nut and fiber intake during teen years may reduce subsequent breast cancer risk; consuming eggs may increase the possibility of type 2 diabetes and the spread of prostate cancer; higher saturated fat intake is associated with lower sperm counts; trans fat and higher animal protein intake may increase heart disease risk; consuming more vegetables and fruit as well as peanut butter may be able to do the opposite; aiming for below-average cholesterol levels may provide better heart disease protection; eating whole grains may lower type 2 diabetes risk; eating more animal protein, animal fat, and cholesterol may harm the kidneys; red meat intake might raise the risk for cancer, cardiovascular disease, and overall mortality; a low-carb plant-based diet may also mean a lower mortality risk; daily egg consumption may mean a higher mortality risk; meat and dairy intake may mean a higher cancer risk; the mercury amount considered by the U.S. EPA to be safe should be lower; a public cutback in mercury levels could raise both national I.Q. points and wages; there is an apparent link between adolescent milk intake, especially for skim milk, and teen acne; cured meat consumption may be a risk factor for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease;   common household chemicals may produce childhood allergic reactions; and finally, buying more plant-based foods may help both a consumer’s health and budget.

The Harvard Nurses Health Study (HNHS) is considered a key long-term population study on women’s health. Its findings include eating meat or eggs before pregnancy may raise gestational diabetes risk; regular nut and fiber consumption, along with limiting dietary cholesterol, may help

extend a woman’s life and may prevent breast cancer; meat intake may be an infertility risk factor; enough magnesium intake may prevent heart attacks; and getting enough plant-based omega-3’s may reduce depression risk. 

For substantiation of any statements of fact from the peer-reviewed medical literature, please see the associated videos below.

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