The Healthiest Meals on Earth: A Guide Eating Well and Eating Healthy

Wednesday, October 15, 2008 - 2:30pm

The Healthiest Meals on Earth is the best cookbook I have ever seen.  Before I continue praising this book though, let me shape this statement. Recipe books are ubiquitous. Everyone has ten of them and most never get cracked open.  Dr. Bowden's recipe book though is more than just instructions on how to make savory appetizers and tasty desserts.  It is a guide on how to eat healthy and eat well, with large doses of explanation that tie in the "why" to the "what". We recently chatted with Dr Bowden about the book.

Why this book now?

After the success of "The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth", many people wrote to me and suggested a cookbook using the "healthiest foods on earth". So we designed "healthiest Meals" as a companion piece- a kind of hybrid between a recipe book and a nutrition book, explaining not only how to make these incredible dishes, but why they were so good for you- so you could not only eat this terrific food but feel good about doing it as well!

What is a polymeal?

A couple of years ago in the British Medical Journal, a researcher looked at the statistics on food and health and projected that if you could create a meal out of seven well-studied ingredients or foods, and get everyone to eat that meal regularly, you could reduce heart disease by over 70% and give people an average of 9 extra "good" years of life. He called that meal the POLYMEAL. We devised all our recipes and meals using the principles of the polymeal- the best variety of documented health benefits in the most delicious combinations.

Buy The Healthiest Meals on EarthWhat is the myth behind the low-fat diet?

That it's inherently healthy (which it's not) and that it will prevent disease (which it does not). The percentage of fat in the diet has absolutely no relationship to any health outcome. The TYPE of fat (i.e. trans-fats) and the TYPE of carbohydrate (i.e. processed food, high sugar) does indeed make a difference.

Your thoughts on sugar?

See above. It's the biggest problem in the American diet as well as in the diet of all "industrialized" nations. And by sugar i don't just mean table sugar, i mean high-fructose corn syrup and any starch that converts quickly to sugar in the body (which includes the vast majority of commercial cereals, pastas and breads). This stuff should represent no more than a small fraction of our diet, but the dietitians tell us it should be 60% which is patently, utterly absurd- at least if you want to be healthy.

Describe the "perfect meal"?

One that tastes delicious, is cooked at home, eaten with family and is a sensual and textural delight. AND which contains the maximum amount of health giving compounds from omega-3's to fiber to protein to healthy fat to vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. Example: Wild salmon, vegetables with extra virgin olive oil, a piece of fruit, some nuts, a piece of fruit, red wine and a square of dark chocolate.

Why should people switch to organic foods? Aren't Americans living longer than ever before?

I'm not sure every single food we eat has to be organic, but many foods that are highly sprayed and contaminated should be- strawberries for example. The advantages of organic go beyond the considerable health benefits- organic soil holds more moisture and actually contributes to saving energy.

"Big Food" has co-opted the term organic in many cases- i'm not sure that "organic cocoa crunch cereal" has any meaning or value, yet I see stuff like that at the supermarket all the time.

Real food grown in organic soil has far more minerals and nutrients and less toxic chemicals. Living longer shouldn't be the only end-point by which we judge the success of a health strategy- you can live long in an assisted living facility or hooked up to tubes. What we're looking for is vibrant, energetic life for many years- living young and long- what I call "youngevity". You're not going to achieve that on a diet of processed food and toxic chemicals.

At the Diet Channel we like to play word association. We'll give you the phrase and you tell us your thought on it:

Child obesity: Sugar, fast food and too much television

Diabetes: Ditto, plus a ridiculous reluctance on the part of the dietary establishment to embrace one of the most effective anti-diabetic strategies in the world- a low-carb diet!

Processed Foods: See above. We need a whole new food sensibility in America. It's going to be slow coming, but we can see glimmers of hope on the horizon.

Fiber: Good stuff. Associated with an awful lot of good health outcomes including weight loss!

Antioxidants: Army. Powerful army of cellular protectors!