All this week, we have highlighted the power of food to stop major preventable killers. Dr Michael Greger is the leading voice for the healing power of diet and lifestyle, and when we serialised his book How Not To Die in 2016, it became a UK bestseller. Now he’s released a recipe book packed with tasty meals to make it easier to eat a wholefood, plant-based diet. Yesterday, we learnt how food can help to stave off diabetes and even more benefits of his Daily Dozen — the blueprint for a disease-busting diet. Today, he shows how a plant-based diet can protect you and your family against lung disease.

The worst death I ever witnessed was that of a man dying of lung disease. He was wide-eyed, gasping for air, his hands clawing at the bed. His lungs were filling with fluid and he was drowning.

Very sadly, there was nothing I could do. Our gaze remained locked as he suffocated in front of me. It felt like watching someone being tortured to death.

So go ahead and take a deep breath. Now imagine what it would feel like not to be able to breathe. We all need to take good care of our lungs.

A high intake of fruit and vegetables is associated with good lung function with just one extra serving of fruit each day  translating into a 24 per cent lower risk of dying from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

A high intake of fruit and vegetables is associated with good lung function with just one extra serving of fruit each day translating into a 24 per cent lower risk of dying from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

In the UK 10,000 people are newly diagnosed with lung disease every week, and somebody dies from some sort of lung condition every five minutes — it represents 20 per cent of UK death from disease.

But a plant-based diet could help. Studies show a healthy diet may help mitigate the DNA-damaging effects of tobacco smoke, as well as perhaps help prevent lung cancer from spreading.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), which, in addition to shortness of breath, causes severe coughing, excess mucus production, wheezing, and chest tightness. But there is some good news: a healthy diet may help to prevent it or keep it from getting worse. This could be very important news for the 1.2 million sufferers in the UK.

Studies show that the consumption of cured meat (bacon, ham, and sausages) may increase the risk of COPD. It’s thought to be due to the nitrite preservatives in meat, which may mimic the lung-damaging properties of the nitrite by-products of cigarette smoke.

But data going back 50 years shows a high intake of fruit and vegetables is associated with good lung function. Just one extra serving of fruit each day may translate into a 24 per cent lower risk of dying from COPD. The more the better!

With each breath, we take in thousands of bacteria. Most microbes are harmless, but some cause potentially deadly diseases, such as influenza and pneumonia.

A plant-based diet may be able to boost your immunity and offer protection. In a 2012 study elderly volunteers given five or more servings of fruit and vegetables daily had an 82 per cent greater protective antibody response to a pneumonia vaccine compared to those who ate two or fewer servings a day.


Asthma is an inflammatory disease characterised by recurring attacks of shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughing, which are caused by narrowed, swollen airways.

It affects 5.4 million people in the UK and claims three lives every single day. However, even asthma may be largely preventable with a healthier diet.

Spice up your life with tasty turmeric 

More than 50 clinical trials have tested turmeric’s effects against a range of diseases, including lung and brain diseases and a variety of cancers.

The spice has been shown to make colon polyps disappear, speed up recovery after surgery and treat rheumatoid arthritis better than the leading drug. Turmeric also appears to be effective in treating osteoarthritis and other inflammatory conditions, such as lupus and inflammatory bowel disease.

That’s one reason herbs and spices form such an important role in your Daily Dozen — try the deliciously spicy recipes here and experiment with different herbs and spices every day.

You could add them to smoothies, pasta, soups, porridge and grain dishes, blend them into spreads and salad dressings and mash them into baked sweet potato.

A study of more than 100,000 adults in India found that those who consumed meat daily, or even occasionally, were significantly more likely to suffer from asthma than those who excluded meat and eggs from their diets altogether.

Eggs (along with fizzy drinks) have also been associated with asthma attacks in children, along with respiratory symptoms. But removing eggs and dairy from the diet can improve an asthmatic’s lung function in as few as eight weeks.

The explanation for why diet affects airway inflammation may lie with the thin coating of fluid that forms the interface between your respiratory-tract lining and the outside air.

The antioxidants in fruit and vegetables could help support the defensive action of this fluid, which acts as your first line of defence against the free radicals that contribute to asthmatic airway hypersensitivity, contraction, and mucus build-up.

Certainly, research suggests a few extra daily servings of fruit and vegetables can reduce both the number of cases of childhood asthma and the number of asthma attacks among people with the disease.

When researchers in Australia tried removing fruit and vegetables from asthma patients’ diets to see what would happen, they found symptoms grew worse after just two weeks.

This occurred when they cut back to just one piece of fruit and two servings of vegetables per day — hardly a restriction by Western dietary standards. When they greatly increased fruit and vegetable consumption (as recommended by my Daily Dozen) to seven servings a day, asthma rates were cut in half.


If, despite all the evidence and warnings, you’re currently a smoker, the most important step you can take is to stop. Now. Please.

The benefits of quitting are immediate because the human body possesses a miraculous ability to heal itself as long as we don’t keep reinjuring it.

Just 20 minutes after quitting, your heart rate and blood pressure drop. Within weeks your blood circulation and lung function improve, and within months, the sweeper cells that help clean the lungs, remove mucus, and reduce the risk of infection start to regrow.

After a year without cigarettes, your smoking-related risk of coronary heart disease drops to half that of current smokers. Within about 15 years of stopping smoking, your lung cancer risk approaches that of a lifelong nonsmoker — your lungs can clear out all that tar buildup and, eventually, it’s almost as if you never smoked at all.

But while you wait, be reassured that simple dietary changes may help to roll back damage wrought by the carcinogens in tobacco smoke.

Researchers rounded up a group of longtime smokers and asked them to consume 25 times more broccoli than average (just a single stalk a day). Compared to broccoli-avoiding smokers, the broccoli-eating smokers suffered 41 per cent fewer DNA mutations in their bloodstream over ten days.

It is clear broccoli boosts the activity of detoxifying enzymes in the liver, helping to clear carcinogens.

So, as well as quitting, keep a close eye on your Daily Dozen to effortlessly boost your intake of vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower to help prevent further damage.

Focus on my seeds

Pumpkin seed dip

Serves 3 

Provides: Beans, other veg, nuts and seeds, herbs and spices.

  • 160g pumpkin seeds
  • 3 cloves roasted garlic (see Cauliflower Mash recipe in Thursday’s paper)
  • 1 425g BPA-free tin or Tetra Pak salt-free cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tsp minced jalapeno pepper (optional)
  • 1 tbsp tahini or almond butter
  • 2 tbsp blended peeled lemon
  • 1 ½ tsp white miso paste
  • 1 tsp Savoury Spice Blend 
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 3 tbsp minced fresh coriander (optional)
  • Assorted cut raw vegetables, for dipping

PREHEAT the oven to 120c/gas mark ½. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Toast pumpkin seeds on it for 15 to 18 minutes, or until they begin to lightly brown, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool then transfer to a food processor. Add roasted garlic, beans, jalapeno (if using), tahini, lemon, miso, Savoury Spice Blend, paprika and 3 tbsp water. Process until smooth and transfer to a bowl. Sprinkle with coriander, if desired. Serve with raw vegetable dippers or three-seed crackers (see below).

Three-seed crackers

Makes 25 crackers 

Provides: Flaxseeds, nuts and seeds, herbs and spices

  • 65g pumpkin seeds
  • 65g sunflower seeds
  • 76g sesame seeds
  • ¼ tsp ground turmeric
  • 40g ground flaxseeds (or linseeds)
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh parsley
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast (or yeast flakes)
  • 1 ½ tsp white miso paste
  • ¼ tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp dried basil, dill, oregano or thyme (optional)

PREHEAT oven to 120c/gas mark ½. In a blender, grind pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, 38g sesame seeds and turmeric into powder. Add remaining ingredients, except sesame seeds. Pulse to combine and mix into a dough. If it is too dry, add up to 250ml of water, 1 tbsp at a time. Spread out the dough on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment. Top with another piece of baking parchment and roll out the dough thinly to make a 30cm x 25cm rectangle. Remove the top layer of baking parchment. Sprinkle with 38g of sesame seeds and press them into the dough. Score the crackers into the size you desire with a knife. Bake until lightly browned for about 3 hours. Store in a tightly covered container once cooled.

Chickpea and cauliflower curry

Serves 4

Provides: Beans, cruciferous veg, other veg, herbs and spices, wholegrains

  • 250ml vegetable broth/stock
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (optional)
  • 1 ½ tbsp curry powder
  • 1 head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into small florets
  • 225g green beans, trimmed and cut into 2.5cm pieces
  • 400g BPA-free tin or Tetra Pak salt-free diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 roasted red peppers, chopped
  • 250ml almond milk
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast (or yeast flakes)
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 425g BPA-free tin or Tetra Pak salt-free chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • Cooked brown rice, to serve

IN A large pan, heat the broth/stock to a boil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic, cover, and cook until tender for about 3 minutes. Stir in jalapeno (if using) and curry powder, then add cauliflower, green beans, tomatoes and roasted peppers. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Use a blender to break up some veg. Stir in almond milk, nutritional yeast, paprika and chickpeas, and cook for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve over brown rice.

 Spicy Asian veg soup

Serves 4

Provides: Cruciferous veg, other veg, herbs and spices.

  • 2 litres Vegetable Broth (see Weekend magazine)/stock
  • 10cm piece lemongrass, crushed
  • 4 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 150g sliced shiitake mushroom caps
  • 2 shallots, cut into thin slivers
  • 200g thinly sliced bok choy or Chinese leaf
  • 150g shredded carrot
  • 3 spring onions, chopped
  • 2 tsp blended peeled lime
  • 4 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tsp Savoury Spice Blend
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh Thai basil or coriander
  • Buckwheat noodles or brown, black or red rice (optional)

IN A large pan, combine the broth, lemongrass, ginger and garlic. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the lemongrass and bring to a boil. Add the mushrooms, shallots, bok choy and carrot. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 3 minutes.

Stir in the spring onions, lime, tomatoes and Savoury Spice Blend. Simmer until hot, for about 2 minutes. Garnish with Thai basil or coriander and serve hot.

For an even heartier version, add cooked 100 per cent buckwheat noodles or brown, black or red rice before serving.

Sesame red cabbage and carrot slaw

Serves 4

Provides: Other fruit, cruciferous veg, other veg, nuts and seeds, herbs and spices.

THIS slaw is cheap, colourful and cruciferocious and it seems to keep for ever. Think of it as a much more flavourful alternative to the typical heavy, mayonnaise-covered coleslaw. It’s much better for you!

For the dressing:

  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp blended peeled lemon
  • 2 tsp date syrup
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp white miso paste

For the slaw:

  • 300g shredded red cabbage
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 12 mangetout, cut diagonally into thin matchsticks
  • 2 spring onions, minced
  • 100g red grapes, halved
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander (optional)
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds

IN A small bowl, combine all of the dressing ingredients with 2 tbsp water. Stir well to blend and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, carrot, mangetout, spring onions, grapes and coriander (if using). Pour on the dressing and toss gently to coat. Taste and adjust the seasoning as desired. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve.

Cauliflower steaks with chermoula sauce 


Provides: Cruciferous veg, herbs and spices

  • 1 head cauliflower, trimmed, cored and cut into 1cm-thick slices
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 22g coarsely chopped fresh parsley
  • 38g coarsely chopped fresh coriander
  • ¼ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp white miso paste
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp blended peeled lemon
  • Quinoa or brown, red or black rice, to serve

PREHEAT the oven to 220c/gas mark 7. Arrange the cauliflower slices on a large baking sheet lined with baking parchment. Roast until just tender, for about 15 minutes, turning once halfway through.

In a food processor, combine the garlic, parsley, coriander and turmeric and process until finely minced. Add the miso, coriander, cumin, paprika, ginger, cayenne, lemon and 60ml water. Process until sauce is smooth.

Remove roasted cauliflower from the oven and use a metal spatula to transfer it to a serving platter. Serve hot, topped with the sauce over quinoa or brown, red or black rice.

Curried cauliflower soup

Serves 4

Provides: Cruciferous veg, other veg, herbs and spices

  • 950ml vegetable broth/stock
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 ½ tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 ½ tbsp curry powder
  • 2 tsp date sugar
  • 1 tsp Savoury Spice Blend
  • 1 head cauliflower, trimmed and coarsely chopped
  • 2 tsp blended peeled lemon
  • 1 tomato, finely chopped, for garnish

IN A large pan, heat 250ml broth over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, for about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, ginger, curry, date sugar and Savoury Spice Blend. Add the cauliflower and remaining 700ml broth and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover and cook until the cauliflower is soft, for about 30 minutes. Puree the soup, working in batches if necessary. Stir in the lemon, then taste and season as desired. Serve hot in bowls, garnished with chopped tomato.

VARIATIONS: When ready to serve, you can add cooked brown, red or black rice; green peas; chopped cooked spinach; minced chives; or diced spring onions.

Almond chocolate truffles

Makes 24

Provides: Other fruits, nuts and seeds

IF YOU’RE going to have something sweet, you might as well make it something that’s also nutritious.

  • 60g chopped and pitted soft dates
  • 50g raw cashews, soaked in hot water for 3 hours and then drained
  • 3 tbsp almond butter
  • 50g unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 60g date sugar/syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Ground almonds, for coating

COMBINE the dates and cashews in a food processor and process to a paste. Add the almond butter and process to combine. Add the cocoa powder, date sugar, vanilla and 1 tsp water. Pulse until well combined.

If too dry to hold together, add a bit more water, 1 tsp at a time, until the mix can be shaped into balls. If too soft, refrigerate for 20 minutes or longer. To firm up, add more cocoa powder, 1 tsp at a time.

Use your hands to shape and roll a small amount of the mixture into a 2.5cm ball and transfer to a plate. Repeat until all the mixture has been rolled into balls. Place the ground almonds in a shallow bowl. Roll the truffles in the almonds until they’re coated, pressing on them if needed to cover completely. Transfer the coated truffles to a plate and refrigerate until firm before serving.

TIP: If dates are not soft, soak them in hot water for 20 minutes. Drain and pat dry.

Warm pear compote

Serves 4

Provides: Other fruit, herbs and spices

ENJOY as a breakfast, snack, or a delicious topping for muesli, porridge, French toast or pancakes.

  • 2 tbsp date sugar
  • 2 tsp blended peeled lemon
  • 2 tsp raisins
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground turmeric
  • 4 to 5 ripe pears, cored and cut into bite-sized pieces

IN A saucepan, combine 120ml water with all the ingredients, except the pears, and stir. Once blended, add the pear pieces and simmer over low heat until the pears are tender and the sauce has reduced, for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve warm.

  • VARIATION: Use chopped apples, peaches or plums.

Fresh fruit skewers

Serves 4 

  • 250g blackberries
  • ½ tsp blended peeled lemon
  • Date syrup (to taste)
  • 125g hulled strawberries or raspberries
  • ½ peeled pineapple, cored and cut into 4cm chunks
  • 100g seedless red grapes
  • 2 kiwi fruit, peeled and quartered
  • 3 plums or peaches, pitted and cut into 4cm chunks

IN A food processor or blender, combine the blackberries, lemon and date sugar, and process until smooth. Cover and refrigerate the coulis. Thread one piece of each type of fruit onto a skewer, adding additional fruit depending on the length of your skewers. Arrange on a platter and serve with the coulis, either drizzled on the fruit or served on the side in small bowls.

Broccoli, the most magical veg of all

Broccoli is truly incredible. Studies show it can help prevent DNA damage and the spread of metastatic cancer.

Research also suggests it can activate defences against pathogens and pollutants; help prevent lymphoma; boost the enzymes that detoxify your liver; target breast cancer stem cells; and reduce the risk of prostate cancer progression.

The key plant component responsible for all this is thought to be sulforaphane, a substance that is formed almost exclusively in cruciferous vegetables such as rocket, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, spring greens, horseradish, kale, mustard greens, radishes, turnip tops and watercress.

Incredible: Studies show broccoli can help prevent DNA damage and the spread of metastatic cancer. Research suggests it can also boost the enzymes that detoxify your liver; target breast cancer stem cells; and reduce the risk of prostate cancer progression

Incredible: Studies show broccoli can help prevent DNA damage and the spread of metastatic cancer. Research suggests it can also boost the enzymes that detoxify your liver; target breast cancer stem cells; and reduce the risk of prostate cancer progression

Incredible: Studies show broccoli can help prevent DNA damage and the spread of metastatic cancer. Research suggests it can also boost the enzymes that detoxify your liver; target breast cancer stem cells; and reduce the risk of prostate cancer progression

Sulforaphane may also help protect your brain and your eyesight, reduce nasal allergy inflammation and manage type 2 diabetes.

To get the full benefit of the sulforaphane, you should ideally eat cruciferous vegetables raw. Alternatively (and more deliciously), try adopting what I call the ‘Hack and Hold’ veg prep method.

There’s a key enzyme that doesn’t activate the sulforaphane until the vegetable is chopped or chewed, and that enzyme is destroyed by cooking — unless you’re prepared to wait about 40 minutes before putting it in the pan or oven. What about frozen broccoli? Sadly, commercially produced frozen broccoli lacks the ability to form sulforaphane, as the vegetables are flash-cooked before they are frozen.

After that, it doesn’t matter how much you chop or how long you wait — you won’t get any sulforaphane.

But there is another way. The enzyme you need for the sulforaphane is also contained in mustard powder. You can therefore sprinkle mustard powder over cooked broccoli — even the frozen variety — and activate the sulforaphane.

Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli have also been shown to boost the effectiveness of a special type of white blood cell that is the first line of gut defence against pathogens.

But it’s not just broccoli that’s loaded with health benefits — plenty of other fruits and vegetables are, too.

Blueberries have been shown almost to double our levels of natural killer cells, which are an essential part of the immune system’s ‘rapid response team’ that fights against viruses and cancer cells.

Red cabbage, meanwhile, provides some of the highest levels of antioxidants very cheaply — three times as many as blueberries per pound. Tomatoes also appear to have special immunity-enhancing powers: drinking tomato juice can rescue the immune function of people who have not had any fruit or veg for two weeks, while carrot juice apparently can’t.

Adapted by LOUISE ATKINSON from How Not To Die and How Not To Die Cookbook by Michael Greger with Gene Stone, published by Pan Macmillan, priced £9.99 and £16.99. To order copies with a 30 per cent discount (£6.99 and £11.89), visit or call 0844 571 0640. P&P is free on orders over £15. Offers valid until February 17, 2018. Additional photography: Will Heap.

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