Let Food Be Thy Medicine

Updated: August 29, 2013


By Nick Barringer MS, RD, CSSD, CSCS (EIEIO)

Hippocrates said “Let Food Be Thy Medicine and Medicine Be Thy Food.” So with that thought I’m going to offer up some salubrious plant based items you might want to pick-up next time you are at the grocery store.

Although I am highlighting disease states where the plants have demonstrated medicinal properties, let me be clear, this is NOT medical advice. Always discuss medical issues with your doctor or primary medical provider because I am neither.

Get Fruity:

Pomegranates are chock full of powerful antioxidants associated with cardiovascular health. Erectile dysfunction can be your body’s first warning shot that your cardiovascular blood flow is less than optimal which is no bueno. Researchers have discovered that the antioxidant compounds in pomegranates improve arteriogenic erectile dysfunction. So add pomegranates to your shopping list to help your vascular system and…uh, ensure everything that is attached to your vascular system is also healthy.

Spice it up:

Cinnamon is the most delicious tree bark known to man (or at least to me). Cinnamon has also been shown to lower blood glucose, triglycerides, and LDL Cholesterol in Type II diabetics.  Cinnamon has also been shown in one study to be as effective as lowering cholesterol as atorvastatine, a statin drug commonly known as Lipitor®, using animal models. The researchers found that atorvastatine or cinnamon provided protection against lipid oxidation disorder and lower cholesterol, protected the liver, and improved cardiovascular function. All that from a product you can pick up for $2.36 at Wal-Mart.

Although you can use cinnamon in cooking, I typically ingest my cinnamon mixed in my coffee. It gives a bland cup of joe a nice kick and it is usually sitting out at most coffee shops just begging to be used.

Just don’t try to get your cinnamon via “the cinnamon challenge.” Although funny it is dangerous and can have negative health consequences especially if you accidentally inhale it.

Go nuts:

Almonds are handy snack that is packed with protein and healthy fats. Research has shown that almonds might also help with weight loss. In a study involving 65 overweight and obese adults that were divided into two groups; a almond eating group and a complex carbohydrate group: The almond eating group was told to consume 84 grams or about 70 almonds per day. The complex carbohydrate group was told to consume a self-selected complex carbohydrate that contained the same amount of calories and protein as the almonds. The study lasted 24 weeks and at the end the researchers found that the almond ingestion was associated with lower weight, lower waist circumference, lower fat mass, and lower blood pressure than the complex carbohydrate group. Also of interest was the of the participants with diabetes, diabetic medications were sustained or further reduced in a greater proportion of the almond eating participants compared to the complex carbohydrate group. If Hippocrates was reading this, he would nod knowingly while noshing on some almonds.

That is all for this segment. I am thinking of making “Let Food Be Thy Medicine” a reoccurring feature where every month or so I highlight the health promoting properties of different foods and spices. If this sounds like a good idea (or horrible) to you, let me know in the comments below. I also want to mention that RU Rob created a spot on the Rhino Den for all things health and fitness:  Granted, I am probably the only one excited about this but I still wanted to share.

Until next time remember for cardiovascular health and weight control: get fruity, spice it up, and go nuts.





  1. William

    August 29, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    I would love to read more of these articles. I got hooked on beets after your ‘beet-it’ segment you previously did. I love your advice and definitely support this being a recurring segment.

    • Nick Barringer

      August 29, 2013 at 6:46 pm


      Thanks for the feedback; I’ll be sure to keep it up. Glad you enjoyed the beet article. Have you noticed any performance improvement since incorporating beets in your diet?

      • William

        August 30, 2013 at 11:57 am

        I have pushed my cardio pace and endurance up since adding beets into my diet. I also lift weights twice a day now with plenty of energy versus only once a day. I’ve always eaten a very balanced diet but adding beets in as an early meal has definitely given me more of a cardiovascular pump throughout the day. My veins even appear to be more noticeable throughout my body so that has to be a good sign.

  2. Emma

    August 29, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    Hi Nick! Thanks for the article. I know I’m showing my ignorance here, but how do you utilize pomegranates? I’m under the impression that they’re full of inedible seeds and that there’s not much else to them. I know I’ve eaten things with pomegranate in them, but I don’t know how to use them on their own. Thank you!

    • Nick Barringer

      August 29, 2013 at 6:42 pm


      You can eat the seeds. The food network has 227 pomegranate recipes listed to give you some ideas http://www.foodnetwork.com/topics/pomegranate/index.html.
      I recommend Bobby Flay’s pomegranate sangria under number 4 because red wine is also good for heart health and who does not like sangria.

      • Emma

        August 29, 2013 at 9:17 pm

        Right on! Thanks!

  3. Withee

    August 29, 2013 at 10:16 pm

    Love it, man!! Keep it coming!!

  4. Kyle

    August 29, 2013 at 11:12 pm

    Great article Nick. After discovering a congenital heart condition last year that was just taken care of by open heart surgery(at 31…wtf), I’ve become more aware of my cardiovascular health, and health overall. Almonds have been a heavy part of my diet, just for their portability and awesome taste, and I’ve been putting cinnamon in yogurt since my wife introduced me to that, but been otherwise unaware of any associated health benefits. As for the articles, I say keep ’em coming, ’cause knowing is half the battle.

  5. Steve Pierson

    September 2, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    Great article. Please keep them coming.

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