Leonardo Da Vinci And Save Our Bones - Save Our Bones

Leonardo da Vinci once said that “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” This is true for the Osteoporosis Reversal Program as well. In fact, it's even simpler than some realize.

For example, here’s what Stephanie from Long Island, New York asked me:

“Should I try as much as possible to stay away from the acidifying foods? Am I missing something?”

Like Stephanie, some Save Our Bones community members may think that acidifying foods are bad and that they should be eliminated from their diets altogether. Fortunately, it’s not so.

I understand why some may think this. You see, the Osteoporosis Reversal Program advocates a diet that leans more toward alkalizing than acidifying foods. The emphasis is on the importance of maintaining proper alkaline levels in our body tissues. This makes it easy to fall into the trap of thinking negatively about all acidifying foods.

Again, this is a misconception, and I’d like to address it here.

You Can Continue to Enjoy Your Favorite Foods

The Osteoporosis Reversal Program is not about deprivation. Far from it, you can prepare delicious meals, dine out or enjoy a meal at a friend’s home, and even indulge your chocolate cravings. In fact, you’ll find a recipe for one of my favorite bone healthy chocolate treats in my recent Day in the Life article.

Aside from basic eating principles like avoiding chemical-laden synthetic and processed foods, as well as excessive sugar and all artificial sweeteners, all foods are allowed. It’s simply a matter of combining them in proportions that benefit your bone health.

An Easy to Follow Eating Plan

With the Osteoporosis Reversal Program, you don’t have to worry about measurements – all you have to do is “eyeball” your meals and shoot for an 80/20 ratio of alkalizing to acidifying foods. In other words, the alkalizing foods should take up about four times more space than the acidifying foods. It’s not exact, but it doesn’t have to be!

So, for example, if you’re eating out with friends and order a chicken breast entree, just make sure you accompany it with lots of alkalizing side-dishes (perhaps you could start with a large salad, order an extra side of vegetables). Here’s something else a lot of you ask about…

Does Every Single Meal Have to be Acid/Alkaline Balanced?

Ideally, each meal should be balanced. But our schedules and commitments often put us in less than ideal situations. The beauty of this program is its flexibility. If you have a meal that’s a bit too heavy on the acidifying foods, then just have a 100% alkalizing snack or meal a few hours later.

Acidifying Foods Can be Bone Healthy

It’s not just alkalizing foods that help build bone density. In the Foundation Foods List, I give the highest food sources for several nutrients that are essential to bone health, and in each category there are acidifying as well as alkalizing foods. How simple is that?

As you probably know, I’ve written about a few of these foods in recent blog posts. You can find out more about walnuts in Eat This Nut, Build Your Bones and learn how to enjoy eggs as you regain your bone health in The Truth About Eggs and Your Bone Health. I even show you how you can continue to enjoy your morning cup of coffee in Drink This, Not That For Better Bone Health.

Black Beans, Another Acidifying Food with Bone Health Benefits

Black beans are another acidifying food that deserve mention. They are extremely healthy, rich in antioxidants that help bones, and they’re on the Foundation Foods list for their magnesium content.

Since Cinco de Mayo just passed, this is a good time to talk about black beans. Black beans (as well as pinto, kidney, and navy beans) were originally found in

Central and South America. Spanish explorers brought them to Europe in the 15th century. And those same explorers later introduced beans to Asia and Africa.

The versatility and health benefits of beans have made them a staple in many cultures. You might also know black beans as Mexican beans, Tampico beans, turtle beans, black Spanish beans, or Venezuelan beans.

Antioxidant Power

In the Osteoporosis Reversal Program, I devote an entire chapter to antioxidants and refer to them as “undercover bone builders.” They truly are!

Antioxidants are molecules that protect cells from oxidative damage, and black beans are superstars in the antioxidant arena.

Researchers with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s, Agricultural Research Service found that the level of antioxidants in black beans rivals that of some fruits.1

Anthocyanin, one of the antioxidants in black beans, is what gives the beans their rich black color, and black beans contain ten times the amount of anthocyanin as oranges! And they’re equal to cranberries, apples, and grapes in antioxidant power.

Black Beans… Beyond Antioxidants

Black beans are an excellent source of fiber, which is essential to digestive and overall health. A single serving of black beans provides 14.96 grams of dietary fiber, almost 60% of the daily recommended requirement (and more fiber than many people consume in an entire day!).

And the protein content of black beans makes them a great meat replacement. Black beans can be substituted for meat in almost any recipe.

Other bone health nutrients in black beans include:

  • Magnesium, a Foundation Supplement that is involved in over 300 essential body reactions, including protein synthesis, and closely linked to calcium absorption.
  • Folate, an important B vitamin that assists in converting homocysteine into other amino acids.
  • Manganese, a trace mineral that’s necessary for the synthesis of connective tissue in cartilage and bone, involved in protein synthesis and fatty acid metabolism, blood clotting, and in many enzyme systems (this is another Foundation Supplement).
  • Omega-3 fatty acids, which increase calcium absorption, helps reduce bone loss and maintains mineral density within bones. Black beans contain nearly three times the amount of omega-3 fats as other beans.
  • Potassium, an essential electrolyte that plays a role in muscle growth and contractions, nerve cell function, and protein synthesis. It also helps regulate the water balance in and outside of the cells.

Selecting, Storing, and Cooking Tips

  • If you purchase bulk dried beans, make sure the bins are covered and that you buy them from a store with reasonably quick turnover (this is true for all bulk food products).
  • Check for moisture or insect damage, avoiding cracked beans as much as possible.
  • Beans stored in a cool, dry area in airtight containers will keep for up to 12 months.
  • Unlike most canned food products, canned beans are almost as nutritious as fresh or dried, so stocking some canned beans is a great way to keep them on hand. But try to keep canned beans as a back-up only because of the possibility of BPA used in the lining of the cans.
  • Cooked beans can be kept in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Preparing Beans for Cooking

These tips apply to dried or fresh beans – canned beans are already pre-cooked.
Start by removing any damaged beans, as well as any debris or stones that might have gotten into the batch. You can easily do this by spreading the beans on a light-colored plate or cutting board and sifting through them.

Once you’ve cleaned out the “bad” stuff, put the beans in a colander or strainer and rinse them under running water.

There’s some controversy about whether beans need to be soaked prior to cooking. It’s not absolutely necessary, but soaking will reduce the flatulence-causing effects of beans. So if that’s an issue for you – soak! The easiest soaking method is to cover the beans with water and place them in the refrigerator overnight. Then, before you cook the beans, drain the liquid and once again rinse the beans under running water.

Cooking Beans

If you have a pressure cooker, that’s the fastest way to cook beans – it only takes about half an hour!

To cook them on the stove:

  • Use three cups of water or broth for each cup of beans.
  • Bring the pot to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to simmer.
  • Cover the pot, leaving the lid slightly ajar so the beans can breathe.
  • Simmer until tender, usually about one to one and a half hours.

Cooking tip: Don’t add any salty or acidic seasonings until the beans are cooked. Otherwise, they’ll take longer to cook and the beans will be less tender.

A Few Tips for Incorporating Black Beans into Your Diet

  • Create a healthy (and 80/20 balanced) layered dip with black beans, guacamole, chopped tomatoes, diced onions, olives, and cilantro.
  • Use black beans instead of pinto beans in your next taco or burrito. To make it even more bone healthy, use lettuce as a wrap.
  • Toss a handful of cooked black beans into just about any salad.

And here’s one of my favorite ways to eat black beans (and of course it’s a bone healthy balance of acidifying and alkalizing foods!):

Festive Black Bean Salad

2 Servings (can easily be doubled or tripled for more servings)


2 cups romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
1 avocado – peeled, pitted, and diced (sprinkle with a little lemon juice right away to prevent browning)
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/2 cup canned or home cooked black beans
2 tablespoons green onion, diced
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons lime juice
¼ teaspoon lime zest, grated
¼ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper


Place the beans, lettuce, tomato, green onion, avocado, and cilantro in a large bowl.
In a separate bowl, mix the olive oil, lime juice, lime zest, salt, and pepper.
Pour the dressing over the salad.
Toss all the ingredients together and enjoy.


1 https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf970264d

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Comments on this article are closed.

  1. donna

    I have hyperparathroidism. Do you have any information on this disease that would help me? I have oteoperosis in my hip and now its hurts to walk. Thank you for anything you can share with me. Donna

  2. Selma

    Thank you for the Black Bean Receipe.
    I’ve used them mixed with carrots, celery & onion and added mixed herbal spices cooked & ground together to fill whole wheat “pockets”.

  3. karin

    I have a problem with the right calcium. I know the seaweed one is recommended but, there is also a calcium orotate which is supposed to reach your bones by at least 85% direct. You don’t have to accompany it by anything and this makes so much sense to me. The only thing is that there is not all that much info about it and I don’t want to do anything wrong. I took it for 1 month and then got cold feet and went back to ordinary osteocare. Can anyone tell me a success story about it? Thank you

  4. Irma

    Vivian, I love black beans with cilantro, it tates so good; but Dr. Oz said that cilantro is not good for people who has osteoporosis. Now I make beans and salsa without cilantro.

  5. Patricia

    Dear Vivian,

    I think you would be rather alarmed if you read our Daily Mail (in England) extolling the virtues of Fosamax and related drugs. They seem to put the fear of god into old people who do not take them. I am devastated when I read these articles. A neighbour of mine takes the drugs regularly and is permanently ill. Best wishes to you, Patricia.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Yes Patricia, it is indeed alarming to see people scared into taking these dangerous drugs. I’m sorry to hear about your neighbor.

  6. Nu Ly

    Thank you for reminding me black bean, black color is good for hairs,but I sedom eat black food except black pepers.

    I don’t know my ph level, the doctor said”your blood is so perfect, take the test later.”

    I had several big falled,before read your book or after, but I didn’t break any bones.

    I have got several Osteoporosis Reversal Program books
    already, the rest, I gave some friends, I can
    handle the meaning of the book. Thank you again,your book give me a peace of mind.

  7. maisie

    I don’t know what black beans are either! Could they be the same as Navy beans (which incidentally are hard to find over here).

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      From the article: “You might also know black beans as Mexican beans, Tampico beans, turtle beans, black Spanish beans, or Venezuelan beans.” If none of these names are familiar to you, just do an online search for “black beans.” You should be able to find several pictures.

  8. maisie

    Does anyone have a good recipe for Almond milk please?

  9. Isobel

    What is Almond Milk – we have never heard of it here in Far North Queensland? I find soy milk leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

    • karin

      you can make your own almond milk. Soak almonds overnight in water. Next day put them and a bit of honey into a fairly powerful blender and blend with 2/3 cups of water to one cup of almonds. Don’t blend
      too much at the time as it goes sour in the fridge
      after a few days.

      • maisie

        Thank you for the recipe for almond milk. I’ll try it. Do you throw out the soaking water or add it in the blender with the rest of the water?

  10. LESLIE

    Hi! Vivian,

    What If You Are Allergic To Certain Spices? Because I’m Allergic To Cilantro, Coriander, Tarragon, Ginger, And Curry. Can You Use Substitutes For These Spices?

    Thank You Again For Everything!

    LOVE, MS. L.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Hi Leslie,

      You don’t have to eat any spices to be successful on the program. Just find spices you enjoy and cant eat.

  11. Diana

    Would it be possible to put up a picture of “black beans”? Different countries call beans different names. It might just be a dark coloured bean? Thank you

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      If you do an online search for “black beans,” you should find tons of pictures.

  12. Angela Wynne-Robinson

    Thanks for the information on black beans and I will certainly be putting them on my next shopping list. I am not familiar with ‘Cilantro’ which is listed on the sample menu.

    Can anyone tell me more about this


    • maisie

      Cilantro is the same thing as Coriander in the UK

    • Marlene

      You can find fresh cilantro in the produce department. It looks a lot like fresh parsley. You can also buy it dried.

  13. Esther Lindquist

    Looked at your post on Black Beans. I really like them and I cook them with my Brown Rice in a Rice cooker. I then Saute chopped onions & celery in a bit of Extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil just a bit, but still keep their crunchyness. Then add the cooked Rice & Beans to the pan. Sprinkle lots of Tumeric,some garlic salt,and pepper mix in serve it hot and enjoy. I then have some Hellmans Mayonaise, abit of coconut oil, & olive oil and again about a tspn of Tumeric, mix well and dip in Raw Broccoli. That is my lunch daily . UMMMMM just finished it.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Sounds delicious!

  14. Janice

    Hello! Have been trying to follow the 80/20 program and go in one month for my next Dexa scan. I have tried to take supplements in my diet and this goes well for several days. By the end of a week, however, I experience nausea and have to throw up after taking the supplements. Otherwise, for being 61, I am in great health. Do you know what would cause this? It happens whether I take the supplements with food or without.

    Thank you!

    • Carole

      Hi Janice,
      Thought I’d let you know a simple thing. Don’t take supplements on an empty stomach. They are called supplements because they are an addition to your diet, not to replace food, and to add back something which is either depleted in food or depleted in our diets. They work in conjunction with other vitamins or minerals in our food primarily. Hope this helps! as this might be the cause of your upsets, especially if you take them with food and are o.k. then take them without!

  15. Kim Reno

    Hello ~ Wanted to see what you thought about using Tri-Salts (by Ecological Formulas) its for neutralize acidity and Body Rescue pH drops. My Chiropractor recommended that I take them. Thank you for all the info you put out ! ~ Kim

  16. joyce

    I wanted to say that my bone density test came back Great, compared to what it used to be.
    My readings were previously -3.6, but now are -1.6
    I have been trying hard to follow the Bone guide for several months, I took myself off of the Forteo injections after 18 months last August & I am very happy about the new readings.
    joyce S.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Congratulations, Joyce! This is most certainly a fabulous bone density improvement. Your focus on the Osteoporosis Reversal Program has given you great results.

  17. joyce

    To insure I am getting enough of the alkalizing foods in my diet (especially if I am uncertain if ti is alkaline enough) does it help to drink a 6-8 oz. glass of unsweetened almond milk? And, is it better to drink the unswetened kind?
    joyce smith

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      I love almond milk, but drink it to replace cow’s milk or use it in recipes. Unsweetened is the way to go. You’ll get more alkalizing power from eating raw almonds, though.

      • Luc Chene

        Yes raw is better, but if the milk is made from overnight soaked almond one gets raw almond milk and it is quite delicious and fully nutritious. A Vitamix blender works wonders!
        In a shake I use the milk without straining it beforehand so I get the whole almond.

        • maisie

          Never heard of Vitamix. Not sure you can get it over here. What is it?

  18. Joy Jennings

    Hello Vivian – I have had good news! My bone density has significantly improved.

    Lumbar spine from -1.9 to %change +17.84

    Hip from -2.0 to %change +1.08

    I attribute this improvement to my alkaline diet, and to calcium, Vit D, Magnesium,and strontium and exercise.
    Dr comment: “continue present regimen”

    • Lois

      I thought I read that strontium made bones harder and thicker but not stronger???

      • Feona

        I thought strontium was a no-no, too. Are you really saying it’s OK to take it, Vivian?

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Way to go, Joy! And this time, I really agree with the doctor.

  19. Loretta

    Thought I’d share the “quick soak” method I use. Saves time when you want beans in a hurry!
    – Place beans in pot and cover beans with water two inches above the beans.
    – Bring to boil and cook at simmer for two minutes.
    – Remove from heat, cover, let stand one hour.
    – Drain and cover with fresh water (again two inches above beans) and cook until tender.
    The 80/20 plan is so easy. Recently went to a buffet and choose lots of fruit (including melon which Vivian recently wrote about), a handful of walnuts, salmon with rice, a few red skin potato chunks, lots of green salad, a half slice of blueberry bread AND a small slice of chocolate cake and tea for dessert. Felt good and saveourbones balanced. Hope my bones enjoyed it as much as I did! Evaluating my 80/20 ratio as I select foods helps a great deal and allows for an extra treat here and there.

    Thanks for a great workable plan.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Thanks for sharing your shortcut! And your yummy buffet choices made me really hungry… Yum!

  20. kathy

    i bought the program and found very little mentioned about apple cidar vinegar. On the internet there are conflicting reports. What is your take on this?

    • Marilyn Hahn

      The word is spelled – cider!
      Maybe that’s why you couldn’t find info.

  21. Merilyn Inman

    good info – thankyou

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