Known for our hiking adventures, my granddad and I were always out and about in the mountains of Tehran and north of Iran, until one day he discovered he found himself increasingly short of breath. Within a few days and after a medical check-up we found out that his coronary artery had been severely blocked by fatty deposits, he had been suffering from coronary heart disease.
The bypass surgery which followed went well and he is still going strong even after 10 or so years. This experience, however, gave rise to his drastic change of diet which previously consisted of lots of full-fat dairy products.
Considering I was only 7 or 8 years old when all of this was happening, I have always known my granddad as someone who is very aware of his diet and as someone who treats his food like medicine. His meals times could be compared to some sort of a religious ceremony; slow and conscious with a strong belief in the healing powers of plants.
Now 81 with a full head of black hair, he wakes up every morning at 5am, has his breakfast and off he goes to work where he manages 30-something employees; if this isn’t life goals I don’t know what is! His love of life is also evident in the choices he makes with his food.
These are the 10 ingredients he includes in his diet on a daily basis:
A trial in 2005 showed that 240ml of pomegranate juice lowered the risk of heart attacks in those with coronary heart disease by improving blood flow to the heart. Also full of vitamins and other nutrients, 100ml of pomegranate juice can be one of your essential 5-a-day.
My granddad is a great believer of beansprouts having almost magical properties, as the enzymes of the beans are released to produce the sprout. He believes that there are stem cells in the sprout which help keep him young. With a bit of knowledge about how the stomach acid works up on proteins and cells we eat, I’m not quite sure that this is really why they’re good for you. However, I can tell you that beansprout that has just germinated contains very potent glycoside antioxidants which help prevent DNA mutation and therefore can help prevent cancer.
Full of vitamin C and other goodies, tomatoes are a staple which should be consumed often. There’s evidence of active compounds in tomatoes having anti-inflammatory and even anticancer effects.
Commonly used in Iranian cuisine, garlic is a mainstay in my grandparents’ house. There have been many studies on garlic and it’s health benefits. From reduction of blood pressure and cholesterol to having protective effects against bowel and stomach cancers, garlic is truly a diamond in the plant kingdom and well deserving of being on your plates!
Rye & other cereals
Amazing sources of fibre which help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, metabolic syndrome and gastrointestinal cancers. The darker the wholegrain cereal the higher amount of antioxidant activity. So replace white rice with wild or black rice, have a bit of rye bread with your yoghurt. The main message to take away is this: add lots of fibre to your diet!
Though there is fear among a lot of people that nuts and seeds are highly calorific, evidence from epidemiological and clinical trials have both shown that regular consumption does not lead to obesity or increase the risk of developing diabetes. There is, in fact, some evidence that they may even help in losing weight. So please, don’t be afraid to go a little nuts every now and then.
Amazing for cardiovascular health, oily fish help sort out the lipids in your blood by increasing good lipids and reducing bad lipids which build up in your arteries over time. There also some evidence that women who consume oily fish twice a week are 30% less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis, although it’s not clear if this relationship is caused by other factors.
For as long as I can remember lemons have always been members of the fruit bowl in my grandparents’ kitchen, usually cut in half waiting to get used up. As part of his breakfast, my granddad squeezes half a lemon into his black tea and sweetens it up with one teaspoon of honey.
A duo as iconic as gin and tonic, my granddad and his watermelon cutting is an event not to be missed by anyone in the family. 92% water it’s hard to believe they do you much good but they are full of an antioxidant called lycopene which is actually also found in tomatoes! Though not a super-food, watermelons are an amazing way to quench the sweet tooth that a lot of us suffer from, replace sweets with this bad boy.
Love your mind, body and soul by taking care of what you consume. We are literally what we eat as the food in our diet becomes our DNA, our cells and ultimately us. Next time you’re having your routine meal think of how you could add that extra care to make your body appreciate having your brain inside it. G’warn and add a bit of nut on top of your pasta, try lemon & honey & black tea or give your chilli con carne a garlic kick.