The Mark’s Daily Apple scientific panel welcomes you to the monthly Impossible Calorie Award. This month:
The Shake Down
We all know milkshakes are unhealthy, but fortunately, there are plenty of healthy alternatives, right?
Wrong. Apples and seedlings, we present the findings:
No one thinks a Frappucino is healthy (we hope). But plenty of unsuspecting folks would assume – understandably – that an iced coffee does far less damage than a milkshake.
Item: Starbucks Strawberries & Creme Frappucino (16 oz.)
Sugar: 83 grams (“golden diabetes award” coming soon!)
By comparison, a triple-thick strawberry shake from the golden arches…
Sugar: 84 grams
In other words, don’t fool yourself – decadent coffee drinks are just milkshakes with culture.
Enter the tie-breaker. What’s cool, sweet, hits the spot, and is really healthy, all at once? Why, fruit smoothies!
Chains like Jamba and Robeks have made a fortune selling people on the idea that their jumbo sherbet and juice blends are the epitome of healthy slurping.
Although you can add in healthy “boosts” like protein powder, vitamin blends and wheat grass shots, these drinks are the ultimate scam. Not only are these shakes generally nothing more than an ice cream and fruit juice fructose-fest, they provide enough calories to feed a small country. Fruit juice is fruit with the fiber removed, and what’s left is sugar.
An “original” strawberry smoothie can set you back as many as 500 calories – and if you upgrade to the “Power” size in the name of good health, you’ll suck down a diabetes epidemic of your own with over 600 calories and 140 grams of sugar. Apples, we have a winner!
I’m not surprised by this expose. Just as the Dairy Industry (Big Moo) has managed to “find” weight loss results when funding clinical studies, food manufacturers in general – and beverage producers in particular – “discover” nutritional benefits of their products and promote those discoveries to the public. Unfortunately, the nutrition science world is even more susceptible to corruption in studies than the pharmaceutical world!
As this article points out, it’s not so much that study results are deliberately misleading. The issue is that food manufacturers have many interesting ways of ultimately getting the results they prefer.
- Food companies pay for studies based on initial hypotheses that are already favorable.
- Food companies may conduct many studies but only use the favorable ones.
- Though conflicts of interest must be disclosed in any study, this is based on an honor system.
The Public Library of Science is one of my favorite resources for uncovering these sorts of shenanigans in the drug, food and beverage industries. In this particular article, PLOS finds that when beverage makers are involved in the study, the results are four to eight times more likely to be favorable. Coincidence?
We had to bring in an auxiliary team of researchers just to help us out with this one. (They were not from Denmark.) Chili’s restaurant offers so many impossibly caloric meals, two scientists resigned in protest and a third left only a note with the words “I fold” written shakily in the lower left corner.
Exhibit A: The entire selection of burgers – without fries. Enough calories to terrify petri dishes everywhere.
Exhibit B: Chili’s “Favorites”. Enough calories to ensure every man, woman and child has a heart attack.
Exhibit C: By far the most ridiculous high-calorie item we have discovered…anywhere. on. planet. earth. Supplying 2.5 days’ worth of calories, the “Awesome Blossom” truly offers some serious awe. 2,700 calories? 203 grams of fat? Six thousand mg’s of sodium?
“Awesome” is often used in the modern patois to denote “cool” or “wow” or “kinda better than average I guess.” We’d like to congratulate Chili’s Restaurant for producing a food product with an astoundingly accurate name – because words mean things. Thanks, Chili’s.
My Inaugural Sherlock Award goes to Health Day News, as posted by the Poughkeepsie Journal. The Sherlock Award is given to the latest MOTO – Master of the Obvious. It’s for “breaking” health and fitness news that isn’t breaking anything except my patience. To be clear, the Sherlock Award isn’t about making fun of that news – the news is accurate. Rather, it’s about my puzzlement over reporting on things I thought were already part of the general knowledge bowl we call “Common Sense.”
This article reports that exercise can help treat depression, anxiety, insomnia, stress, Alzheimer’s, and a host of other mood imbalances, mental disorders and health problems.
It’s human nature to compare life now to life “in the good old days.” And in the good old days, it seems nobody had a shrink or took Prozac. This doesn’t mean people weren’t depressed or stressed out “back then”; nevertheless, if you believe the statistics (always a dicey proposition), a significant number of Americans have something really unpleasant going on upstairs, whether it’s trouble sleeping, dealing with stress, or feeling good about life.
Isn’t it obvious? Most of us sit in front of a computer all day. We go home and sit in front a television. It doesn’t take a genius to surmise that moving around might be something humans were meant to do. In fact, scientists know that exercise – even mild movement like walking or doing chores – releases dopamine, serotonin and all kinds of other wonderful enzymes, compounds and hormones into our bodies. Our brains are natural little medicine factories; many of the drugs created to treat issues like stress and depression or insomnia and anxiety mimic the very compounds our bodies are capable of making – when we move.
Read the article, savor their glorious triumph, and treat your body right today.
Here at MDA, we define “premium” as something peerless. Without equal. Really, really good for you – the absolute best. We believe in living life that way.
Evidently, McDonald’s defines premium as peerless and without equal, too. As in, a really, really good way to get that nifty obesity look everyone’s working these days.
Although no scientists were permanently harmed in the deliberation of today’s Impossible Calorie Award, a few of them did need to be sent on vacation.
McDonald’s “premium” chicken strips are 100% white meat. Fabulous. This “premium” product comes packed with 1270 calories in the bigger size (and who would order only 3 strips?). Visit this clickativity and be premiumed like you’ve never been premiumed before.
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