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Salad Days

Now this is cool. It used to be that heart disease is a distinctively human condition. Indeed it has been the leading cause of death in the U.S. for the past 80 years. [1] If you like stats, here are a few:

In 2006, 631,636 people died of heart disease, nearly 200,000 MORE than the year before.

Every year about 785,000 Americans have a first heart attack; another 470,000 who have already had one or more heart attacks have another attack.

And here's the kicker: In 2010, heart disease will cost the United States $316.4 billion. This total includes the cost of health care services, medications, and lost productivity.[2]

Turns out heart disease does not just hit humans, as an article in this month's National Geographic (above) reports. Male zoo gorillas also get it. In fact, many of these poor creatures are put on medications such as beta blockers and ACE inhibitors, which have side effects including depression. Sad!

Note how we said zoo. Heart disease is virtually unheard of in the wild. So why do animals kept in confinement get this disease and wild ones do not?

Two words: obesity and diet
And they are related. Specifically, processed food combined with lower activity levels of zoo animals leads to weight gain and clogged arteries, until the heart goes BOOM.

As part of a multi-zoo study, Elena Hoellein Less of Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is feeding some gorillas a trial menu that mimics the largely vegetarian one eaten in the wild. Zoo animals are fed specially formulated biscuits that are starchy and high in calories. Ms. Less has substituted this food for ten pounds a day of fiber-rich leafy greens, including endive, dandelion greens, romaine lettuce and alfalfa. The natural diet of apes also relies heavily on sweet fruit and seeds, and so apples, bananas and flax seed supplement the diet.[3]

The result of the shift from grains to greens? An average of 65 lbs of weight loss! Nothing to take lightly.

Take-home message? To avoid heart disease and be lean (but not mean), stop being confined to the desk, get up and move. And when your steps carry you to the fridge, be sure to load up on greens, beans, sweets and seeds.  The Paradigm Way.
Salad is sexy.



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