October 31, 2007
-- Anoymous (via the blog)
I must say -- I have been getting some really thought-provoking questions lately.
One cup of Kellogg's Corn Flakes contains a mere 1.8 grams of sugar (that's half a teaspoon). When the amount is so small, I don't think too much weight should be placed on the particular sweetener listed on the label.
It's also worth mentioning that when it comes to the artificial high-fructose corn syrup, it's important to place it within the context of dietary patterns.
If Corn Flakes are your only source of high fructose corn syrup each day, there is no need for concern.
If, however, you are also having a few cans of regular soda and lots of processed sweet foods, I would recommend taking certain steps to cut back on your consumption of the infamous corn-based sweetener.
My real issue with Corn Flakes is that they are far from nutritious. They aren't "unhealthy", but I can think of much more nutritious, filling -- and tastier! -- choices for breakfast.
For starters, they are fat-free and contain an almost non-existent 1.3 grams of fiber and 1.9 grams of protein per serving. Why am I pointing this out? Remember: fat, fiber, and protein are the three pillars of satiety ("feeling full").
Foods like Corn Flakes -- which lack these three nutrients -- will not help you feel full. In fact, you'll very likely be hungry again just one hour after having your bowl of cereal (unless it is an accompaniment to a more substantial breakfast).
Anyone interested in weight loss -- and maintenance -- should think about consuming healthy and nutrition foods that, in small amounts, satiate.
Nuts, for example, contain healthy fats, fiber, and protein. This is why a handful of nuts as a snack can hold you over much better than a handful of pretzels (which, lacking these nutrients, will not help you feel full until you have consumed a significant amount of calories).
Another eyebrow-raising fact? A cup of Corn Flakes has more sodium than a one-ounce bag of Lay's potato chips (266 milligrams vs. 180 milligrams)!
As I mentioned in my Small Bites newsletter on sodium, one way to get an idea if something we are eating is heavily processed or closer to nature is by looking at the sodium to potassium ratio.
The more processed/artificial the product, the more sodium (and less potassium) it has.
Corn Flakes? 266 milligrams of sodium in one cup, and a feeble 24.6 milligrams of potassium (we should be aiming for approximately 4,000 milligrams of potassium each day).
If you can't live without your cereal in the morning, opt for a wheat-bran based type (wheat bran is high in potassium) and have it with a banana, mango, or raisins (three breakfast-friendly fruits also high in that mineral).
October 30, 2007
Find out how portions have grown over the past two decades, how this relates to rising obesity levels, tricks and tips to "smartsize" your life, what "trigger foods" are, and MUCH more.
Click here to download the 35 minute-long interview in MP3 format -- it's definitely worth a listen!
My suggestion? Zap it onto your Ipod and listen to it on your way to work tomorrow morning. I guarantee you'll be making better choices by lunch time.
-- Denise Wyler
I did not watch the episode where Jessica Seinfeld (yes, Jerry's wife) pitched her new book, Deceptively Delicious, in which she shares her recipes for many classic unhealthy foods (i.e.: especially kid favorites like mac and cheese, brownies) with a "healthy twist".
Said twist? Adding pureed vegetables. Oh, woopee... start throwing confetti, everybody!
I managed to see a few nauseauting clips in which Oprah made it seem like Jessica was a culinary goddess for "coming up" with this concept.
For some odd reason, many celebrities are bowing down to Jessica Seinfeld for doing nothing more than adding a handful of beets to chocolate cake.
Kelly Ripa referred to Jessica as a "genius." Well, considering the source that doesn't mean much of anything.
Interestingly, there is a serious plagiarism scandal surrounding this book, which you can read about here if you are interested.
I don't really see what the big hoopla is. For instance, Jessica's carrot-spinach brownie recipe includes a mere cup of pureed vegetables for a batch of 12 brownies.
In other words, a child would need to eat SIX of these brownies to get a mere half cup (just one serving!) of vegetables.
In the process, they would be getting a boatload of sugar and no other nutrients to speak of. I'm supposed to be wowed by this? Well, I'm not.
I'm actually pretty ticked off that, apparently, all you need is a well-known last name to get a multimillion dollar, multi-book deal.
What credentials, exactly, does Mrs. Seinfeld have to start doling out ANY nutrition advice? None.
Funny how this "hide pureed veggies in brownies" idea is found in books released before Deceptively Delicious, yet was completely ignored by the mass media until Mrs. Seinfeld came along.
The blueberry oatmeal bars are described as "full of spinach".
Really? The recipe -- which yields 12 bars -- only calls for a half cup of pureed spinach. Your little one will need to eat all 12 bars to get just one serving of vegetables.
Marion Nestle recently commented about this same subject on her blog -- I completely agree with every word.
This book sends out the completely wrong message on nutritious eating for children. Why should we be sneaking healthy food into kids' meals? Is a carrot really THAT terrible? Give me a break.
I was also very disappointed to find out that well-known dietitian Joy Bauer approved all these recipes.
-- Natalie Leon
You are absolutely correct that, at the end of the day, sugar is sugar. Brown, white, unrefined, unbleached... it makes no difference -- you are getting 16 calories (and four grams of sugar) per teaspoon.
If you want to get really technical, though, unrefined sugars do not go through one step in the processing system -- filtration with charcoal.
Many strict vegans and vegetarians will look specifically for unrefined sugars since the charcoal used for filtering with standard "table sugar" is often made from animal bones.
October 29, 2007
Armed with my trusty notebook, I raised my hand. My question -- and their answer -- follows.
ME: "[In the film, we don't see any organic farming.] Did you come across any farmers [in Iowa] who grew organic crops? How do some of the farmers you spoke to feel about using pesticides on their crops? Do you know of any physical side effects from using these chemicals?
KING CORN "CAST": We absolutely saw a lot of people doing organic farming. We shot 500 hours of film and had to condense it to 82 minutes, so you can imagine all that was left out.
Actually, what we call "organic" here in a place like New York City isn't a novel concept to a lot of farmers. To them, that's just normal "farming."
The issue of pesticides and chemicals used in farming is of huge concern to us. I don't know if you're aware of this, but there is a 60 mile "dead" zone in the Gulf of Mexico where the water is completely deprived of oxygen.
No life can grow or live there, and it's because of runoff -- waste water and fertilizer runoff -- that travels down from farms in the Midwest. It's terrible what these agricultural chemicals do.
The impact goes beyond the immediate area around the farm, or even whoever ends up eating whatever is grown on that farm.
From our research, it seemed that many of the women who farmed and were exposed to some pesticides and chemicals developed Non-Hodgkins lymphoma. This stuff can't be good for you if you are literally surrounded by it every day.
By the way, there' s a great organization called the Practical Farmers of Iowa. They're doing some really great stuff. They want to help farmers transition towards diversifying their crops and make them more profitable, and they are also interested in ecological preservation and keeping farming as an earth-friendly practice.
For instance, New York City's infamous Page Six gossip column recently printed the following:
WHICH reality star turned rocker recently had major work done after a minor weight loss? Following in the footsteps of her plastic surgery-addict mother, the young starlet got her tummy tightened and her breasts lifted.
Believe it or not, I now have a blind item of my own, courtesy of a business and kitchen insider who knows firsthand of some terrible sneakiness taking place behind the scenes.
WHICH popular "healthy" food delivery business -- linked to a popular diet -- is pulling the wool over some of its New York City customers? Even though your meal is supposed to be "heart healthy" and low in calories, many of the chefs who work for the outsourced company that makes the meals are known to add more butter, cream, and salt to any "healthy" dish that doesn't taste good to them!
I was absolutely flabbergasted to find this out. People are putting their trust in a company to deliver healthy, tasty food, and they are instead getting highly caloric, fattening meals.
In all fairness, the popular diet company does not seem to be aware that this is going on. Negligent? Absolutely. If I was an executive member of this company, I would have someone from my staff supervising the chefs making these meals.
To be absolutely sure of what you are eating, your best bet is to make it yourself at home. Or, at the very least, understand that when you eat out, even if it sounds mega healthy, you run the risk of consuming more calories than you would at home, or added ingredients you would never think of putting onto your dinner plate!
PS: I know for a fact this has been happening in New York City. This service is national, though, so I don't know if this is a national or regional problem. I'll see what I find out.
-- Anonymous (via the blog)
That's a hard question, mainly because "replacing" chocolate is an almost impossible task.
If chocolate is on your mind, there isn't much that can take its place.
Additionally, I don't think something as delicious as chocolate should be seen as an "evil" that needs to be replaced.
A better question is, "how can I enjoy chocolate when I have a craving without overdoing the calories?"
Here are some suggestions.
Incorporate small amounts of chocolate into a healthier snack. For example, make your own trail mix consisting of walnuts (the nut highest in Omega-3 fats), raisins, sunflower seeds, and half a handful of chocolate chips or M&M's.
Tantalize your tastebuds with more intense flavors. A few bites of a darker chocolate (70 or 85% cocoa) will satisfy your craving more quickly than milk chocolate.
If a chocolate craving hits you at the checkout line or an airport newsstand (where candy surrounds you), opt for the smallest varieties. Unless you have exemplary self-control, you know you will eat the entire contents of what you buy. A King-Size Crunch bar, for example, has 200 more calories than the standard variety -- that's literally twice as much!
Don't attempt to ignore your chocolate craving by munching on carrot sticks instead. You won't enjoy the carrot sticks, you'll start thinking of healthy food as "punishment", and you'll still be craving chocolate.
Don't fall for the "low-carb" or "sugar-free" trap. Many people think that sugar-free varieties of popular chocolates like Reese's Mini Peanut Butter Cups or Hershey Nuggets -- intended for people living with diabetes -- are a "diet food". Far from it! On average, the sugar-free versions offer only 30 less calories per serving than the regular products and just as much -- sometimes more -- saturated fat.
October 28, 2007
a) Three Musketeers
d) Milky Way
The answer? Three Musketeers.
One fun-size piece of this candy bar provides 63 calories.
The rest? Milky Way's fun-size delivers 75 calories, a fun-size bag of Skittles clocks in at 80, and the smallest of all Snickers bars adds 99 calories to your day.
Missing a chocolatey coating, Skittles are by far the lowest in fat (.75 grams and 0 grams of saturated fat), but make up those calories by containing more sugar than the three sweet competitors.
Even among its chocolate friends, the Three Musketeers prevail. A fun-size Milky Way packs 2 grams of saturated fat, Snickers is a close second with 1.8 grams, while the three amigos manage a not-so-bad 1.3 grams.
This might surprise you, but, in my opinion, the worst treat to overindulge in on Halloween night is a virtually fat-free one like Skittles.
The absence of fat (and, obviously, protein and fiber) don't help us feel full, thereby make it easier to overeat and consume a large number of calories.
Candies with slightly higher fat contents can help you feel full in lower quantities.
October 25, 2007
Despite an increase in life expectancy, obesity and diabetes rates in the United Kingdom continue to grow.
In the past ten years alone, the percentage of obese adult men in England has risen by forty percent. Children? Fifty percent!
More obesity and diabetes but also longer lives? Not as surprising as you might think.
After all, this study isn't detailing the quality of this extended life expectancy. For all we know, people are living an extra four or five years with health complications, multiple doctor visits, and a fistful of medications to take every day.
One especially disturbing statistic: "There are 2.2 million people in the UK living with the condition and up to... 750,000... who don't know it."
A sugar-free Atkins bar is not a comparable replacement to real chocolate (which, even when made with 70% cocoa, needs sugar to taste good).
Similarly, fat-free ice cream is a tasteless, watery concoction unworthy of the "ice cream" moniker.
So where does one turn? Well, if you're a caramel fiend like myself, look no further than Glenny's Caramel "sweetheart" Soy Crisps.
Although they are advertised as heart-shaped, that romantic notion appears to have gone out the door, as all the crisps are a more standard round shape.
Each 1.3 ounce bag packs a mere 140 calories, 3 grams of fat, and 4 grams (1.3 teaspoons) of added sugar (no artificial sweeteners here!).
Even better? They are completely free of saturated and trans fats!
As an extra bonus, you get 3 grams of fiber and 9 grams of protein.
That's what I call a sweet deal.
October 23, 2007
The result? They consumed 400 less calories over the two days in which they were served healthier fare.
In essence, they had the same amount (by weight) of food -- but less calories -- and still felt full.
I suspect this has to do with the healthier fare containing more fiber (which helps promote feelings of satiety) and, above all, tasting good.
These children don't know what 'calories' are; their food choices are made exclusively on taste. Make nutritious, lower-calorie meals tasty and appealing to the palate (i.e: blend cauliflower, garlic, and olive oil in a food processor and pour it over pasta, rather than give a 5-year-old a side of steamed cauliflower) and they will be eaten.
I mentioned some folks believe the artificial sweeteners in them may be cancer-causing, but that it's a step up from guzzling sugary sodas every day.
She said something about the acid in the soda not being that bad for you, because our stomachs are already acidic.
But I always thought the acid in the soda wasn't so good for the tum tum.
What's your verdict?
-- Judith (last name withheld)
The problem with all soda -- diet or not -- is the phosphoric acid in it.
Not so much because it's bad for your stomach (it isn't), but because of its effect on our calcium levels.
Our bodies like to stay in balance (you might remember the term "homeostasis" from your high school biology class). Calcium and phosphate, in particular, are two minerals that are actually good buddies. In fact, they're inseparable.
If one's level in our blood goes up, the other one wants to go up as well. So when you drink that can of diet soda, your body's phosphate levels rise. Calcium sees this, and says, "Wait a second, I want to go up, too!"
If you are like most people in the United States, your calcium intake isn't as high as it needs to be, meaning you don't have much available calcium floating around. So in order to up its levels, calcium, eager to join phosphate, starts leeching extra calcium from the first place where it can find it – our bones.
Let me be very clear here – if your calcium intake is adequate, the occasional diet soda is not going to harm you or make you develop osteoporosis.
But, in looking at teenagers, for instance (many of whom are already calcium deficient and on top of that are guzzling down two or three sodas a day) this is a problem.
Phosphoric acid is also responsible for wearing away enamel (a protective layer) on our teeth, leading to an increased risk of tooth decay.
I don't see anything wrong with having a soda here or there as a treat (i.e.: at the movie theater, at a barbeque, etc.), but definitely take issue with soda being someone's sole source of liquid day in, day out.
He is also the founder and director of the Yale Prevention Research Center and the Integrative Medicine Center.
Hundreds of television and print appearances have made him familiar to millions of people in the United States and around the world.
Some of his most high-caliber gigs? Health columnist for the New York Times; nutrition columnist for O (Oprah's magazine), nutrition consultant for VH1's Celebrity Fit Club, and medical contributor for ABC News.
He has also made multiple appearances on Larry King Live, Oprah, The Today Show, 48 Hours, Good Morning America, World News Tonight, and 20/20.
The American College of Preventive Medicine noticed all his potential and presented Dr. Katz with its Rising Star Award in 2001.
Dr. Katz' extensive knowledge of -- and research on -- weight management and chronic disease earned him the title of one of the country's top preventive medicine physicians by the Consumers' Research Council of America in 2003, 2004, and 2005.
I contacted Dr. Katz to discuss some of today's hottest nutrition issues, as well as the release of his new paperback, "Dr. David Katz's Flavor-Full Diet: Use Your Tastebuds to Lose Pounds and Inches with this Scientifically Proven Plan," which introduces the concept of "sensory specific satiety."
Read on to find out exactly what that is, and much more, in my exclusive chat with Dr. Katz.
The research on sensory-specific satiety presented in The Flavor Point Diet [hardcover title] brings a new and different approach to weight loss and maintenance. When did you first become aware of these studies, and how did you start developing and molding it into your book?
I first learned of sensory specific satiety in 1991, while examining factors that influenced dietary choices – and overeating – during my preventive medicine training. I was immediately fascinated, recognizing this as a powerful, universal force, but a topic people did not know at all.
It occurred to me that sensory specific satiety – the tendency to fill up faster when there is less variety in a given meal or snack, and to stay hungry longer when there is more variety – was the reason why, at the end of a large holiday meal, right after saying we’re too full to eat another bite, the next words out of our mouths are: “What’s for dessert?”
It is also the reason why everyone overeats at an all-you-can-eat buffet.
The research on this topic goes back thirty years, but no one had tried to leverage the power of this tendency to help people fill up on fewer calories and control their weight. That, I suppose, is the novel idea for which I get credit. But I owe a debt of gratitude to the appetite researchers and neuroscientists who worked out sensory specific satiety in the first place.
I began thinking about it in 1991; applying it to patient care in 1993; writing about it by 1995; and incorporating it into my books in about 1997. I wrote Flavor Point (the paper back is Flavor Full Diet) from 2003 to 2005.
During that time, I worked with my wife [an expert cook] to turn my understanding of this powerful force into a meal plan that could help people control appetite in a whole new way, while preserving balanced nutrition and the pleasure of eating good food every step of the way.
Did you ever worry that some of the advice can be misconstrued? For instance, someone starting out on the diet might be deterred from eating a nutritious, healthy snack like apple slices and walnuts on "pineapple day" [one of Flavor Points' theories is to keep a consistent flavor throughout the day] , while someone else might get confused and think that salt-free potato chips and club soda are a better snack than, say, air-popped popcorn and piece of fresh fruit.
The book is very explicit about placing good nutrition first and foremost. And it also explains the role of flavor themes.
But, yes, there is the risk of getting too preoccupied with the idea of flavor themes. To be blunt, they are a gimmick.
Not in a bad way; a gimmick is defined as ‘an ingenious device’ for some purpose. I found that the flavor themes helped people understand what organizing flavor meants. It helped them focus on flavors over the course of a day. So, flavor themes help people “get it”, and learn how to distribute flavors thoughtfully.
But otherwise, they are totally unnecessary. What makes the flavor point meal plan work is the avoidance of too many flavor categories (sweet, salty, savory, etc.) jumbled together into any given food, meal, or mouthful. The flavor theme helps a little by providing subtle repetition throughout the day, but it’s really the avoidance of mad jumble of unnecessary flavorants all at one time that gets the job done.
Publishers like what they know, and in diet books, what they know is plans with several, progressive stages. But if I had flavor point to write over again, I would eliminate that. The book teaches a new concept, and a new skill; you can apply it without the rigidity of flavor themes. They clearly help some people, but I think they may distract and even discourage some others. If they help, use them; if not, you can ignore them and apply the concept.
The concept is this: identify and choose more wholesome foods by knowing how to read a good label, and you avoid unnecessary sugar added to salty foods; unnecessary salt added to sweet foods; and artificial flavorants added to most processed foods. All of these additions turn on appetite responses, and make you need more calories to feel full. The “bet you can’t eat just one” ad was a threat the food industry really could back up!
There are popular breakfast cereals with more added salt than potato or corn chips; there are popular pasta sauces with more added sugar than chocolate fudge sauce. This is not by accident; these hidden flavors (and they are hidden; who likes salty breakfast cereal or pouring high fructose corn syrup over their spaghetti?) put your appetite center into overdrive.
When you need extra calories to feel full, you have a choice: gain weight, or go hungry. Flavor Point offers a third choice: learn how to avoid this trap, fill up on fewer calories, avoid weight gain, and but still eat until completely satisfied.
How, if at all, does sensory-specific satiety tie into what I like to call the "three pillars" of satiety (fiber, fat, and protein)? Did you find that a meal high in these three nutrients is less effective in helping someone feel satiated if it combines too many flavors at once?
They are complementary concepts. Foods that are wholesome and close to nature tend to be best for avoiding a mad jumble of flavors. Such foods tend to be high in fiber, too; and to have a low glycemic load, high quality protein, etc.
Flavor Point focuses on the thoughtful distribution of flavors, since that is the novel concept it is introducing. But into the bargain, the meal plan and advice in the book address everything else we know about appetite control, from macronutrient composition, to glycemic load, to volume.
The bottom line is: healthful eating helps control appetite in a variety of ways. Put them all to work for you, and the effect is very powerful.
I would like everyone to be in my position: eat food you love, until you are full, and never worry about your weight. I can gain weight as easily as anyone else, but since I full up on the “right” number of calories, I never do. Add use of sensory specific satiety to other strategies for filling up on fewer calories, and that’s the result you get.
There are certain natural, healthy foods like milk which naturally contain sodium and sugar. How do these play into sensory-specific satiety? Are they seen as equal to processed cereals that contain these two flavors?
Wholesome foods from nature generally have a clearly dominant flavor; milk is certainly more sweet than salty. In fact, such foods do turn on more appetite than they would if they did not contain this combination.
It makes sense, for instance, that breast milk would turn on appetite to help ensure that newborns eat enough. It is not actually “normal” for adults to consume dairy; that’s why so many of us are lactose intolerant.
But in fact, I am not worried about such foods. Eliminate the enormous influence of processed foods and buffet meals on appetite, and the effect of flavor combinations in natural foods is modest in comparison. It’s just not a problem.
Like all reasonable theories, sensory specific satiety could be pushed to extremes where is is no longer useful or sensible. That is to be avoided, of course.
The field of nutrigenomics is a fairly new one that promises to keep growing over the next few decades. Do you think further research will provide breakthroughs in the field of preventive medicine and nutrition? As a renowned professional in the field of medicine, are there any specific issues or topics you think it holds the key to?
No question. Nutrigenomics will help us know what specific dietary adjustments are most important for a given individual to help avoid adverse outcomes or promote health.
But, let’s face it: we don’t need to catalog the genes of individual lions to know they should eat meat, or the genes of individual koala bears to know they should eat eucalyptus leaves. We are the same. We have a basic native dietary pattern that does, and always will, make sense for all of us.
Nutrigenomics will allow for individual tailoring, but it will still be variations on a theme – and we have a sound knowledge of the theme right now.
What is your take on the new batch of "superfoods" (i.e: hemp, goji berries, mangosteen, borage oil, acaí)? There is no doubt they have health-promoting properties, but don't you think they are often given too much credit as being miracle foods when, in reality, what we need to start with is encouraging people to develop healthy eating patterns that can include tried and true classics like pears, olive oil, and oatmeal?
What we need is strategies to help people adopt a healthful diet. We have no real evidence that any single super food will change health outcomes. We do have evidence that a healthful dietary pattern can provide lasting weight control, slash diabetes risk by at least 60%, slash heart disease and cancer risk, reduce the risk of osteoporosis, prevent allergies, etc.
But, it is much easier to sell people a single food than get them to adopt a healthful diet, hence the marketing effort for superfoods. Nothing against them, but there is no silver bullet when it comes to health. You have to find the forest, not get stuck picking a super fruit up a single tree.
That’s why what I write about is “how to,” not “what”. We know what a healthful diet is; people need new strategies, and knowledge, and skills to help them get from there to here. That is the focus of my work.
When it comes to overall health and risks for certain diseases – just how much, if any, damage can damage be reversed? Let's take someone who mainly ate processed throughout their 20s and, ten years later, did a 180 and made whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, legumes, and lean protein staples in their diet. Even though they are now eating better, are they actually "undoing" past damage on a cellular and organ level?
It’s never too late to start being healthy, and there will always be benefits of doing so. One thing people often overlook about those benefits – they won’t just be for you.
Start eating well when you are in your 30s and 40s, and, sure, you have some damage to undo. But you are also a role model for your children, perhaps, and helping them adopt healthful habits before ever any damage occurs.
The benefits of healthful eating extend to other members of your family if you approach this as a family affair. Everyone wins.
A lifetime of good health is the greatest of all blessings, and the best gift a parent can give their child. With the right application of both will power, and skill power, it is within reach for most of us.Many, many thanks to Dr. Katz for his time and insightful, detailed answers.
October 22, 2007
a) Three Musketeers
d) Milky Way
Leave your guess in the "comments" section and come back on Friday for the answer!
October 21, 2007
-- Pauline Guzek
Via the blog
In a recent post , I explained that corn-fed cows' meat contains higher levels of unhealthy fats than that of their counterparts who munch on grass all their lives.
A similar concept occurs with milk, except this time around, as you'll soon find out, corn-fed cows' milk is LACKING an important nutrient.
This is one of the main reasons why many people are starting to specifically look for commercial milk that comes from grassfed cows.
Caution! Simply buying "organic" milk does not guarantee the cows that produce it have been subsisting on the green stuff all their life.
Under the current organic guidelines by the United States Department of Agriculture, milk can be labeled 'organic' if the cows that produce it have "access to pasture."
Technically, the cows do not have to eat said pasture. So, a huge farm could potentially fatten up all its cows on corn and grains but let them spend an hour a day outside and legally label their milk as "organic."
Be sure to look for the words "grass-fed" on the container.
The main draw of milk from grass-fed cows is a higher amount of a polyunsaturated fat known as conjugated linoleic acid (CLA.)
The current research on CLA is promising. Several studies have shown promising links between its consumption and cancer cell growth inhibition as well as lowering of triglyceride levels and even a boost in the immune system.
Milk from corn-fed cows is not only lacking CLA, it is also the byproduct of a body that has taken in copious amounts of antibiotics and hormones.
If it fits within your budget, I would recommend purchasing milk from grass-fed cows.
In many countries, this is the only milk they know, as the notion of having cows eat corn and antibiotics all day seems not only bizarre, but also unhealthy. I completely agree.
NOTE: While avoiding trans fats altogether is the most advisable suggestion, the recommended maximum daily intake is set at two grams.
Trans fats -- fats that are partially hydrogenated, making them more shelf-stable -- have been linked to higher levels of bad cholesterol and elevated risk of coronary heart disease.
The main culprits? Baked goods. Commercial cakes, pies, cookies, and cupcakes often contain shortening, the king of partial hydrogenation.
Although some fast-food establishments -- like Chik-Fil-A -- do not fry in partially hydrogenated oils, the same can't be said for some of its counterparts.
A medium order of McDonald's french fries packs in 5.4 grams of trans fats! That same order at Burger King still provides a disturbing 200% of the "Danger! do not cross" trans fat limit.
I thought the idea behind eating fruits and vegetables was because they have antioxidants, which keep free radicals down?
I exercise about five times a week. Should I be taking extra antioxidants?
-- Brandon Fentino
I can see why you'd be confused.
Yes, exercise -- since it increases our body's oxygen utilization rate -- results in an increase of free radicals.
And, yes, you are correct that the recommendations surrounding antioxidants and their consumption are linked to their ability to weaken DNA-damaging free radicals (which, in turn, are linked to the development of a number of diseases and inflammatory conditions).
So, what gives?
Consider exercise your body's "antioxidant boot camp." Exercise trains the body's defense systems, helping it become more adept at battling harmful free radicals.
That being said, overtraining -- for example, working out two hours a day, seven days a week, can do more harm than good.
Vitamins C and E are antioxidants, so you want to always make sure you are getting the required amounts of these two specific nutrients each day.
I wouldn't recommend "extra" amounts, though, since clinical studies have shown that in very high amounts, these two free-radical fighters end up switching to the dark side and becoming PRO-oxidants!
* The average farmer in Iowa owns 1,000 acres of crops (corn being the overwhelming majority).
* Each acre of corn contains 31,000 kernels.
* Each acre of corn produces 5 TONS of food.
* With today's modern technology, it takes just eighteen minutes to spray those 31,000 kernels with herbicides and pesticides.
* By the way, these sprayers have a ninety foot span!
* Thirty-two percent of the United States' corn production is exported to other countries or used to make ethanol.
* Approximately fifty percent is fed to livestock.
* The remaining eighteen percent is used to make high fructose corn syrup, used in sodas, breads, cookies, and pastries.
* Zero percent -- that's right, none -- of industrialized corn can be eaten off the cob. Due to its genetically modified properties, commodity corn must first be processed before it can be consumed.
* Sixty percent of cows' diet in the United States consists of corn. The other forty percent? A variety of grains, including wheat.
* Seventy percent of all antibiotics in the United States are consumed by cattle.
October 19, 2007
A great read!
October 17, 2007
NOTE: While avoiding trans fats altogether is the most advisable suggestion, the recommended maximum daily intake is set at two grams.
Leave your guess in the "comments" section and come back on Sunday for the answer.
Fifty years ago, cows in the United States, like others around the world, subsisted on a simple, natural diet of grass and hay.
In the early 1970's, though, when farmers were instructed to produce as much food as possible -- resulting in a tremendous surplus of corn -- cows' diets radically changed.
Gone was grass, in was corn (often mixed in with grains also foreign to cows' diets until that time).
Livestock breeders couldn't be happier about this change. On a corn diet, cows fatten up a lot quicker, especially when cruelly crowded in feedlots, literally unable to walk. In other words? More cow to sell in less time.
From a cow's standpoint, however, the glass isn't so full.
Cow's digestive systems are unable to handle corn and grains. Consequently, after a year of said diet (after 12 months, most are then sent to slaughterhouses), many cows get sick.
A sick cow, though, is useless to a breeder. So, as "insurance", antibiotics are mixed into their food supply. It is believed that antibiotic residue in the food we eat is partly responsible for developing antibiotic resistance in our own bodies!
Even with this precaution, many cows become sick to the point where their blood pH drops, often resulting in a life-threatening condition known as acidosis.
In fact, corn is so harmful to cows that if they were to eat it continuously for 18 months, their systems would go into overload, resulting in death.
According to King Corn, everyone who has eaten conventional beef in the United States over the past thirty years has eaten purely corn-fed meat.
This is especially troubling considering that the fat ratio in the United States' diet is completely imbalanced.
Ideally, we want our Omega 6 (an essential fatty acid found in vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, and plants) and Omega 3 (another essential fatty acid, found in walnuts, flax, salmon, tuna) ratio to be approximately 4 to 1. Current estimates place ratios anywhere from 15:1 to 20:1!
What's wrong with that? These disproportionate numbers greatly increase our risk of developing inflammatory diseases, including Crohn's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and degenerative joint disease.
As if that weren't bad enough, beef from corn-fed cows contains as much as five times more unhealthy saturated fat than that of grass-fed cattle!
You can now see why having our food supply so saturated with corn -- which provides Omega 6 fatty acids -- is a problem.
Consider a fast-food meal of a hamburger, fries, and soda.
You are getting corn in your hamburger, both in the corn-fed beef and the bun (which contains high-fructose corn syrup).
The fries? Very likely fried in corn oil (it's the cheapest, and you know fast foot outlets are all about cutting costs and maximizing profit!)
The soda? If it's not diet, you're getting your share of high-fructose corn syrup as well.
Next time you're at the supermarket, read the ingredient lists of the foods you place in your cart, keeping track of how many items contain high-fructose corn syrup, corn starch, corn oil, corn gluten, hydrolyzed corn, etc.
I have a feeling you'll be surprised.
October 16, 2007
I never bought them, but I looked at the packaging a few times. It says they are flourless, "sprouted" breads.
I don't understand how it's bread if it doesn't have flour in it. Are they good for you? What's in them?
-- Al Joseph
St. Paul, MN
Sprouted grains -- also known as "live" grains -- have recently gone mainstream after being health food purists' secret for several decades.
I first had sprouted grain English muffins a year ago, and they have since become a staple in my home freezer.
Sprouted bread, for instance, is the end result of a process which begins by sprouting -- rather than milling -- different grains (wheat, spelt, barley, etc.) and legumes (i.e.: lentils, beans).
These sprouts then become dough, which is baked at low temperatures.
This process retains more of the grains' and beans' nutrients, yielding higher amounts of protein, fiber, vitamin A, iron, calcium, and potassium when compared to regular bread, even whole wheat varieties.
I am by no means saying that regular whole grain breads are "bad" or nutritionally empty -- far from it!
However, bread products made from sprouted grains offer even more nutrition.
For instance, one sprouted grain English muffin contains 8 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber (compared to the already-considerable 5 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber in a conventional whole grain variety).
What I personally love about sprouted breads (such as Ezekiel 4:9) is the hearty, nutty taste they deliver -- and how incredibly satisfying they are.
Food For Life -- the company that makes the Ezekiel 4:9 line, inspired by scripture -- also produces cereals, pastas, and bagels.
By the way, am I the only one who would prefer a more non-denominational name for their products? Then again, you can chalk it up to a historic, rather than religious, influence.
Back to the topic at hand -- you can only find them in a supermarket's frozen section because they lack additives and preservatives. Storing them at room temperature will lead to rancidity and spoilage rather quickly.
Give them a try and see what you think!
October 15, 2007
This is a very troubling statistic, particularly because there are important reasons for choosing wild -- rather than farmed -- salmon whenever possible.
Salmon is touted as one of the best sources of Omega-3 fatty acids because it contains top quality ones known as EPA and DHA in high amounts.
Sea creatures aren’t just naturally born with lots of Omega-3 fatty acids.
Instead, they eat sea plants that produce this fat. Once consumed, fish store it in their fat tissue (which, PS, is why you do not get Omega 3's from a salmon skin sushi roll).
In the case of larger fish, they achieve this by eating smaller species that eat sea plants.
Here is the problem. There are different types of salmon.
On the one hand, you have the wild kind, caught in the ocean, where these salmon produce Omega 3’s in their bodies by eating the plant life under the sea.
You also have farmed salmon, wherein hundreds of these fish are crowded into aquatic feedlots.
Guess what? They aren’t being given sea plants to eat. Rather, they are fed grain (to fatten them up) and antibiotics (they are in such close quarters that they are very likely to get sick, so farmers throw antibiotics in the water as ‘insurance’).
Hence, the amount of Omega-3's they offer is lower than that of wild salmon's.
Additionally, the perfect ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6's (another fat our body can not produce, and thus we need to get from the diet) found in wild salmon is unbalanced in the farmed counterparts.
Although Omega 6 fats are necessary, the United States diet is extremely high in them, and too low in Omega 3's. The ideal ratio should be 1:3 (Omega 3:Omega 6); we're currently at a 1:20 - 1:25 ratio!
It gets worse, I’m afraid. Wild salmon gets its beautiful pink hue from its diet. Farmed salmon? From pellets!
There is actually a patented chart called a “salmo fan” (pictured up top), which displays several shades of pink. The salmon farmer chooses the specific shade he wants his fish to have, drops some pellets into the water and, voila, wish becomes reality!
Essentially, farmed salmon are fed dye.
Don’t get me wrong – salmon is still a great source of protein, potassium, phosphorus, selenium, and vitamin B12 whether it’s farmed or not.
However, when it comes to the impressive Omega 3 profile of salmon (and other seafood), you can forget about it if your dinner is coming from a feedlot and not the ocean itself.
October 14, 2007
I did find it kind of unfair that you compared them to Funyuns though; I personally would've compared them to Terra Chips (although they don't have an onion flavour so I kind of see why).
The original flavoured ones are also just vegetables, oil and salt (and beet juice concentrate for colour). They are fried, however, so they still can't compare to Crispy Delites, but I just wanted to point out they're not the only real veggie chips out there!
-- Vincci (via the blog)
Vincci, you make a very good point. Like Crispy Delites, Terra Chips are also made exclusively from vegetables, and not a hodgepodge of sugar, stabilizers, flour, and buttermilk.
As you mention, though, Terra chips are fried, which increases their caloric and fat content.
Although they also offer three grams of fiber (and even a little less sodium than Crispy Delites), an ounce of Terra chips pack in 50 more calories and 6.5 more grams of fat.
The reason why I compared red onion Crispy Delites to Funyuns was to show that not all "onion chips" are equal. In fact, Funyuns are really just fried corn starch chips with some onion flavoring on them -- very different from the baked simplicity Crispy Delites offers.
I was lucky enough to be at a special screening which was followed by a question and answer session with one of the two documentary's stars as well as the director and editor of the project (my question, and their answer, will be posted separately).
The movie begins with friends Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis getting a strand of their respective hairs tested in a lab. The result? A rather large amount of carbon in their bodies. The culprit? Corn.
It is made clear from the beginning that the problem is not corn on the cob. Rather, it's all the ubiquitous corn byproducts in the United States' food supply.
In just 88 minutes, we watch as Curtis and Ian travel from Boston to Greene, Iowa (where, coincidentally, both their great grandfathers' once lived) in early January of this year to plant their own acre of corn.
As the months roll on, the agricultural dynamic duo begins to ponder -- and investigate -- where the genetically modified corn they are growing -- none of which is edible in its natural state -- will end up.
The answers aren't pretty: cattle feedlots, soda, bread, frying oil, cookies, soups, pasta sauce.... the list goes on!
Sprinkled throughout the documentary is commentary from Michael Pollan (who I asked to participate in our "Speaking With..." section a few months back but declined via his assistant, due to too many commitments) and Harvard's Walter Willett.
Both experts make it clear that the surplus of corn in the United States is behind many severe problems, ranging from rising obesity rates to the deplorable downfall of small farms.
King Corn also teaches a valuable lesson on the history of agriculture in this country, explaining how farmers went from originally being paid NOT to over-produce to today's record-shattering crop numbers (each acre of corn contains 31,000 kernels!)
Rather than write a long post covering the important issues -- and dishing out some eyebrow-raising statistics shown -- in the film, I will blog about King Corn throughout the week to give it the coverage I feel it deserves.
If it's playing at any of your local theaters, do not miss out! Dates and locations are below:
October 19 -- Washington, DC & Boston, MA
October 26 -- Los Angeles, CA
November 2 -- San Francisco & Berkeley, CA
November 9 -- Austin, TX
November 9 - 15 -- Chicago, IL
November 11 -- Pleasantville, NY
November 21 -- Pleasantville, NY
December 7 -- St. Louis, MO
Unlike other vegetable chips made mostly of flour with a little bit of spinach or carrot thrown in at the end for flavor, Crispy Delites are made exclusively and entirely from real vegetables.
It also helps that they are baked, rather than fried. In essence, water and moisture are removed, leaving behind crispy, crunchy bits with no extra junk.
The result? A healthy alternative to regular veggie chips that truly delivers.
The red onion flavor, for example, has only three ingredients: red onion, canola oil, and sea salt.
Compare that to Funyuns: enriched corn meal, corn and/or soybean oil, salt, corn starch, onion powder, sugar, soy flour, buttermilk, maltodextrin, hydrolyzed soy protein, monosodium glutamate, dextrose, garlic powder, artificial colors, spice, natural flavors, soybean oil, corn flour, and gum arabic.
Notice how an actual onion isn't anywhere to be found on that laundry list?
Simplicity pays off! A one-ounce bag of red onion Crispy Delites contains 110 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, only 80 milligrams of sodium, a commendable 330 mg of potassium, and 3 grams of fiber!
Let's go back to the Funyuns for a second. One ounce of those provides 140 calories, 7 grams of fat, 270 milligrams of sodium, 30 milligrams of potassium, and less than 1 gram of fiber.
The numbers speak for themselves.
Crispy Delites are also available in carrot, cucumber, celery, sweet potato, and taro flavors. Just like the red onion variety, they also consist of nothing but the vegetable in question, canola oil, and sea salt.
There is also an apple variety, with "apples" as the the sole ingredient. It's basically a one-ounce bag of crunchy baked apples -- nothing else!
Look for these in your local grocery stores and delis. If they are nowhere to be found, the company will soon provide ordering via their website.
October 13, 2007
By the way, some of you have asked me what a nutrition consultant for a children's television channel does.
Ms. Sasson is the person Nickelodeon turns to when they need help deciding what food products to put their characters on.
The Viacom-owned station recently decided to be more careful with the foods their "celebrities" like Dora the Explorer and Spongebob Squarepants endorse. A certain "healthy" cereal might seem okay to ad executives, but it is Ms. Sasson who has the final word!
Today, she reviews The Sonoma Diet: Trimmer Waist, Better Health in Just 10 Days! by Connie Guttersen and Stephanie Karpinske.
What I Like:
"This isn't a low-fat or low-carb diet. Olive oil and nuts play a big part, and whole grains like brown rice and oatmeal are included."
What I'm Not So Sure Of:
"This idea of phases. It's very cookie cutter. I guess it's what sells. I don't know how necessary it is to have distinct phases with strict rules."
What I Don't Like:
"I have many problems with this book. First of all, it talks about how it wants to emulate The Mediterranean Diet, but then it tells you NEVER to eat things that people in that part of the world eat: potatoes, regular pasta, white bread, jam. We have this notion that these foods are "bad", but that's if they are eaten in very large quantities or prepared in ways that aren't healthy, like drowning pasta in a tub of Alfredo sauce.
This woman is a registered dietitian, so I'm really surprised with some of the things she says. She starts by telling you to go through your kitchen cabinets and throw out anything with white flour or sugar. This includes something like maple syrup. No one ever got fat from drizzling a little maple syrup on their pancakes!
I also don't like the idea of eliminating fruits during the first ten days. Fruit is a great source of nutrients, and there is absolutely no evidence supporting the removal of fruit from one's diet in order to lose weight. If anything, this can be problematic because you can not turn to fruit as a way to satisfy a sweet craving.
This diet is just too restrictive, and unnecessarily so. And, it annoys me that the author keeps mentioning how "easy" it will be to lose the weight. I don't think it's necessarily an easy thing. It's OK if you initially struggle. Telling readers how easy and fun this is going to be isn't truthful.
The recipes also seem complicated and expensive.
This is definitely one of my least favorite recent diet books."
I have not read this book, but based on the above review, I have a feeling I wouldn't be very supportive of it.
I love whole grains and recommend them often (I certainly believe the large majority of your grain consumption should come from whole sources), but I would never tell someone to shun white flour and other refined grains for good.
What for? So they can feel like they "cheated" when they went to a birthday party and had a slice of cake, or went to their favorite pizza joint with a friend and had a slice?
I also don't understand the reasoning behind eliminating fruit for a period of time -- I can't imagine not being able to bite into a single piece of fruit for a week and a half!
I also know that, later on, artificial sweeteners are allowed in small amounts, yet regular sugar is not. Huh? Adding a teaspoon or two of sugar into your coffee provides, at most, 32 extra calories.
The United States definitely needs to reduce its sugar consumption, but this idea of it as an absolute evil -- even in small amounts -- is hysteria.
"I want to have a healthy breakfast on the weekends, when I don't have to run out the door after heating up some oatmeal in the microwave. I don't like to cook, so I don't see myself making vegetable omelettes. I'm getting tired of cereal," writes Danielle Rowd of New York, NY.
Melody Lee of San Francisco, CA says that although she loves "brunching with my friends on the weekends, it's starting to get expensive. I'm vegan, and I'm always having the same things for breakfast: cereal, a Lara bar, or a fruit smoothie."
Hopefully, this recipe will help them -- and you.
All you need is a toaster (or toaster oven). This is a perfect example of how some creative mixing and matching can yield a tasty and healthy breakfast.
2 whole grain frozen waffles (some brands I recommend: Nature's Path, Van's, Lifestream)
1 banana (sliced)
4 tablespoons plain, fat-free yogurt (preferrably Greek; if vegan, try soy yogurt)
10 - 14 walnut halves
Toast the waffles.
Once done, evenly distribute remaining ingredients on them.
Enjoy! This is one tasty and filling breakfast I don't even need maple syrup for, since the banana adds the perfect sweet touch, while the yogurt and walnuts provide a variety of textures.
1 gram saturated fat
9 grams fiber
A good source of: fiber, protein, Omega-3 fatty acids, manganese, calcium, and potassium.
October 12, 2007
October 11, 2007
Using Cuba as a case study, it states that in times of economic crisis, calorie consumption drops, leading to decreased rates of obesity and heart complications. Once the scenario improves, more food is purchased, more calories are eaten, and waistlines expand.
One factor worth pondering, I think, is that nutrition education and awareness could really shift these values.
After all, it is the people with higher expendable incomes -- at least in the United States -- who can afford the gym memberships, the personal chefs, daily meals at expensive health-centered restaurants, etc.
In this country, studies have shown that obesity rates are higher among children and adults of lower socio-economic status.
While I do not believe healthy eating can only be achieved with a lot of money, extra income permits certain luxuries that make healthy living easier.
Not to mention, when it comes to dining out, most unhealthy, highly-caloric foods in this country are available at dirt cheap prices (mainly because of agricultural subsidies that favor corn and wheat, which can be processed into things like high fructose corn syrup and fiberless white flour, rather than fruit).
A dollar can get you chicken nuggets at McDonald's, but you'll need at least one more dollar to score a side of brown rice at a standard restaurant.
October 10, 2007
Not surprisingly, you can get it in either a regular or large size.
The large size weighs slightly over a pound! Its nutrition label would read something like this:
Total fat: 38g (58% of the daily value)
Saturated fat: 29g (145% of the daily value)
Sugars: 133g (11 tablespoons!)
What is truly disturbing is that this size is not advertised for sharing -- it's all about wolfing it down solo.
Is there really a need to sell a mammoth-sized portion of an item that, even in its regular size, is already quite an indulgence?