Check out a recent post in the Diet & Nutrition section by junior apple Annie B. She writes to tell us about a recent adventure to Boston Market, where she overheard two well-meaning ladies order the “healthy vegetable plate” of mashed potatoes, corn, and mac ‘n cheese. Hmm.
We’re a little concerned about that meal being thought of by anyone as a “vegetable” plate. Potatoes, maybe. But macaroni and cheese is definitely not a vegetable. It’s fat (processed cheese) and refined starch (white pasta). But we’re most upset about corn.
Friends, corn is not a vegetable. It’s not. We are perplexed as to when corn entered the American dietary lexicon as a veggie, because it’s a grain – and a really unhealthy grain at that. Corn is the most sugary, starchy, empty grain there is. You’re better off with white rice – seriously. (Not that we recommend eating a lot of white rice, because brown rice is higher in fiber and protein.)
In fact, we hate corn. Now, we’re not talking about the occasional corn on the cob at the family BBQ. That’s probably not going to hurt anyone. But corn should not make up the veggie section of your meal plate, because it’s a high-glycemic sugarfest. In sum: corn is not a vegetable, and it’s a worthless grain.
And yet, miraculously, it forms the basis of the American diet.
The most maddening thing about all of this is that corn is the #1 ingredient in just about every processed food and fried food. How, you ask? Well, we have a lot of excess corn sitting around every year (mostly because the government still subsidizes corn farmers). What to do? A few decades ago, people figured out that turning corn into oil was really cheap and profitable. Never mind that corn oil is terrible for you when used in cooking: trans fat city, and no Omega-3′s! Yet corn oil, and its trans-fat twin, hydrogenated corn oil, are in everything. Take a look at just about any food in the middle aisles of your grocery store. Yep, corn oil. If it doesn’t have corn oil, it will have corn syrup. Sometimes both.
Even worse is the corn sweetener situation. High fructose corn syrup is really, really cheap, which is great for food manufacturers. And it’s sweeter than sugar. What food manufacturer is going to say no to that? They won’t – not unless you tell them enough is enough.
HFCS goes into soda, sports drinks, kids’ snacks, candy, and breakfast cereals, to name just a few items. The HFCS lobby has a really, um…colorful brown website (we can’t think of anything nice to say about it) that makes a big deal about how nutritious corn syrup is and how it’s the backbone of the American Diet. Seriously, is that something you want to be bragging about? With diabetes now a runaway epidemic, and corn syrup registering off the charts on the old insulin-response meter?
Maybe the HFCS lobby lives in an alternate America where a diet high in pizza, Lucky Charms, pop tarts and Pepsi has produced legions of energetic, happy, lean, muscular individuals. You can check out their “fact” site right now. Clickativity.
Waves of grain…
This one should be easy for all of you: before the holidays really hit full speed this weekend, do yourself a healthy favor. No junk food this week. Nada, zip, zero, [all right, insert “nothing” synonym of choice here]. We know you’re all healthy in mind, body, and spirit. Salads don’t stand a chance around you. Wait, why is this one even a challenge? Mark?
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WORKER BEES’ DAILY BITES
Drug-Eluting Stents Elude Trouble…for Now
An FDA panel is
not really concerned that drug-eluting stents might cause serious blood clots. There are two kinds of stents: those that elute and those that do not. The latter are simple metal devices used to prop open arteries that are gunked up. The former release drugs and are far more popular. In fact, drug-eluting stents make up 90% of stents sold, which means about $6 billion a year in profits for the medical device industry.
So, the news* that they might kill more than they should (remember, the FDA accepts a relative number of “oops” when approving a drug) is not making Big Pharma happy. Over at the Motley Fool, they’re surmising that the FDA will probably let it all slide. Poor Pfizer just lost torcetrapib, so maybe it’s a little bit of a pity party. At any rate, ateriosclerosis, which stents address, is almost entirely preventable with a good diet and daily exercise. Something to think about. Apples?
Will I Miss Out If I Never Eat a Kumquat?
Junior Apple Jessica B. wants to know if we need variety in our diets, after all. Good question, Jess (can we call you Jess?). That does seem to be one of the hallowed tenets of friendly nutritionists everywhere. It’s right up there with 8 glasses of water daily and flail-away-at-the-cardio-machine.
What we want to know is: what do we really know? For all of human history, people ate locally, seasonally, and their variety was often limited. Evidence indicates that cave-dudes and cave-ettes didn’t really struggle much with things like obesity and diabetes. As long as they weren’t wiped out by the latest glacier or wild boar attack, people were reasonably healthy on diets that centered around one or two fiber sources, some type of greens (anything from kelp in Japan to moss in Siberia), and a protein source or two (fish in New Zealand, reindeer in Finland). What do you all think about the variety debate? Get thee to the forum!
* UPDATE MAY/24/07: news article updates latest drug-eluting stent issue. We’ve replaced the old article with the most up-to-date news.
EVERYTHING YOU EVER WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT:
ALPHA LIPOIC ACID (ALA)
WHAT IT IS: Not to be confused with alpha linoleic acid, which is flaxseed’s famous precursor to Omega-3 fatty acids, alpha lipoic acid is an antioxidant found in the body’s cells. It works in concurrence with several other antioxidants, including vitamin C and vitamin E.
Studies show: ALA, like other antioxidants, fights free radicals that ravage the body. When free radicals attack our cells, this is known as oxidative stress, which ALA prevents. But ALA goes a step further than other antioxidants.
This compound helps to regulate blood sugar and insulin. For this reason, ALA plays a vital role in energy, health and weight maintenance. Many diseases, such as diabetes and obesity, are linked to unhealthy blood sugar and insulin production levels.
ALA is also one of the only antioxidants that is both fat and water soluble, which is just one more reason why experts consider it to be such a valuable nutrient. Studies have shown that ALA both fights oxidative stress and helps improve the metabolism. Specifically, ALA has been shown to fight the destructive free radicals that contribute to aging.
In a recent study, ALA improved energy levels significantly. And ALA helps its buddies: at least two other antioxidants have been proven to work more effectively in conjunction with ALA.
WHY WE LIKE IT: We like ALA because of its potential for great energy improvement and age-fighting effects. ALA helps fight oxidation, is fat and water soluble, and improves the effectiveness of other antioxidants.
While the body does produce ALA within its cells, scientists have discovered a unique and wonderful side effect when an additional ALA supplement is taken – the ALA “free floats” to any area in the body suffering from oxidative stress, whether it be water, fat or blood. How cool is that? This is special because other antioxidants (like C and E) remain in particular cells, and often just the fatty section, at that.
Furthermore, ALA supports other antioxidants, increasing their effectiveness. And because high blood sugar and insulin irregularity are both problems for Americans, we believe ALA is crucial to managing your health. That’s why Mark includes a big dose of ALA in his world-class Damage Control Master Formula.
My buddy, Dr. Joe Mercola, posted a handy news bite on his site recently about the most toxic produce. The “Dirty Dozen” fruits and vegetables are responsible for about 90% of our pesticide exposure. Yum.
The following are the dirtiest – don’t avoid them, but scrub well with soap and water. Yes, soap – because food is now laundry.
- Apples (we’re really offended by this)
- Sweet bell peppers
The Doc tells us these are some of the cleaner veggies and fruits available:
Here’s the clickativity.
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