Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.

Mark's Daily Apple

8 Mar

Healthy Tastes Great!

Tips for Cooking Grass-Fed Steak

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8 Mar

Low-Carb Is Not a License to Live on Bacon

Yesterday I discussed the much-buzzed-about Stanford Atkins study…at length. As many of you know, I am very much in favor of a diet that is high in good fats, lean protein, and green vegetables – and very low in carbohydrates, particularly refined and grain carbohydrates.

“Atkins” and “low-carb” are controversial, attention-getting words because they tend to elicit images of bacon, butter and grease. While I am big on low-carb, I’m also big on doing it sensibly.

I think it’s clear that those on low-carb diets do experience both weight loss and health benefits – confounding to conventional nutrition wisdom, but evidently true nonetheless. However, that doesn’t mean a steady diet of sodium-stuffed sausage and chemical-laden deli meat is a sustainable or sensible path to health. If not done correctly, the Atkins diet is more of a vanity diet than a ticket to great health. (The good news: done properly, you can look good and feel good!)

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Recently I talked about what I eat in a day, and though you might call it “low-carb”, I think of it as simply eating the way humans should eat (humble, I know). The focus is on fiber from greens, lean meat, good fats from fish and certain vegetable oils, and yes, even some saturated fat. So long as fat isn’t refined, I think much of our dread of saturated fat is overblown. (You all know how I feel about cholesterol – I think inflammation is far more deadly for humans.) I’m inclined to believe it’s the proportion of “good” to “bad” fat that is more important than fretting over the amount of saturated fat in your steak.

The irony, of course, is that a “controversial” diet that doesn’t worry about fat – even saturated fat – and proposes avoiding anything processed, refined or grain-based, is probably closer to nature’s ideal design for the human diet than we’ve been in a long, long time.

If you live on bacon, you will lose weight. You’ll also run the risk of kidney stones…and seriously annoying your friends. But grass-fed steak? Butter on your vegetables? A hearty omelet? I don’t think there’s anything remotely unhealthy in any of these foods. The allegedly healthy alternatives we’ve been sold on for years now – bran flakes, bread, fat-free egg substitutes – aren’t any better for you than French fries, Lucky Charms and cheeseburgers, in my opinion.

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8 Mar

The Sisson Spoof

Those Chemicals Sure Are Sparkly!

Vegan Porn (just check out the site) led me to this news item in the New York Times. Faced with angry parents tired of the vending machine mafia, increasing attention to the dangers of sugar (like I always say, sugar is the new trans fat), and a national obesity epidemic, soda makers are trying to come up with better marketing tactics.

Instead of pop or soda, carbonated corn-syrup-fests will now be referred to as “sparkling beverages”. And that’s going to stick? Not as well as your heel does in a day-old pop puddle.

For the first time in America, soda sales are down as people turn to bottled water, iced tea and other healthier choices. This is just ridiculous, frets Coke’s CEO, E. Neville Isdell, because “Diet and light brands are actually health and wellness brands.”

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7up started fortifying its soda and making claims about being “all natural” back in 2004, to much furor. In my opinion, adding vitamin C to a can of chemicals isn’t going to do anyone any health favors. But, Isdell and his ilk are convinced this is the right – and healthy – way to go.

Okay. If this is any sign of the times, I see healthy brand extension opportunities here, and not just for soda – er, “sparkling beverages”:

Hard Apple Cider: “Now with selenium. Really puts the little tykes to sleep!”

Krispy Kreme Donuts: “Our tasty rings build crucial motor skills in toddlers. Don’t forget to try out Hostess donut holes for proper grip development!”

Kool-aid: “Yellow No. 5 helps kids learn to count!”

Fortified breakfast pastries: “Just think where your healthy diet would be without 2% of your RDA of iron!”

7 Mar

Los Buzz

Worker Bees’ Daily Bites:

Take two and see us in the morning.

Basically Meaningless Index

Science Daily reports that the BMI is a bad idea. We’ve been saying that for some time. And it’s not like we’re alone in this – a lot of health experts have been expressing frustration with reliance on the BMI. Some problems: the BMI does not take bone density, muscle mass or fat percentages into account. And it’s generous to a seriously scary degree. For example, a woman who is 5’7″ and 150 pounds is just as healthy, lean, and fit as a woman who is 5’7″ and 120 pounds, if you follow the metrics of the BMI. Hmm…

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Thanks to Float for the photo!

Love Your Liver

…by losing weight. Obesity, more than anything else, affects your health. Obesity sets you up for diabetes, heart disease, depression, and stroke.

And That’s Fit reports: obesity is hard on your liver, making dangerous drug reactions more likely. In other words, being obese not only increases your risk for other diseases, but it increases your risk for having serious problems with the drugs needed to treat those diseases.

There are a lot of ways to lose weight, but among the simplest, most effective of methods is simply cutting out the sugar (soda, snacks, pastries and prepared foods).

seatoad

This is Shinyai‘s photo of sea toad liver. Now you know!

Seriously, Just Take Some Omega-3′s, Would Ya?

Good fats are good for your brain: more evidence. Fish everywhere do not rejoice.

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Flickr fish pic

State of the Union

Guess how many states reveal preventable medical mix-ups? 20? 30? 40? No, unfortunately, only two. All together now: transparency, transparency, transparency!

7 Mar

Blogs with Heart

This week’s Aaron’s Additions brings you a roundup of the biggest, loudest, and by golly, shiniest heart health blogs on the web for your perusing pleasure. The assortment of perspectives out there is enough to send me running for my sneakers. Some are great, but I’ve also included a few that get my heart pounding out of concern. Okay, actually, many of them make me cradle my head in my hands and think about repaving America with running tracks.

The biggest problem I find: even “alternative” heart health blogs still truck out the same Uncle Sam outdated advice: bran flakes, low-fat dairy, fruit juice, and plenty of wailing away at the cardio machines.

The Cardio Blog
A very classy cardio blog that is sadly missing a little “heart” and soul. Nevertheless we keep daily tabs on the frequent multi-author posts for a glimpse of a more traditional health perspective. To wit: in their commentary on CNN’s “9 steps to a healthier heart“, the Cardio Blog dug the recommendation for pomegranate juice (#4). You might recall, yesterday we took issue with #4, and still do – fresh fruit, not juice, is the healthiest bet for your heart.

A Hearty Life
Dr. Lei clearly knows her stuff, and has the best of intentions, but the real bummer is that most of her advice boils down to “if only you’d taken your medication”. I’m sure she knows that 1 in 3 women die of heart disease, so I think it’s only reasonable to suggest that the thinking on heart health needs a hefty overhaul. Let’s start earlier, work harder, and take more assertive preventive action. Now where were those pills…

Revolution Health
Can Steve Case – your friendly AOL CEO – really do this? Evidently so. We were turned on to a sneak preview of Revolution Health, Case’s health blog social network brainchild, and surprisingly, it’s not too shabby. In fact, it’s pretty cool. I haven’t found any entertaining angry apples or racist food scams exposed. Nevertheless, this mainstream-attempting-to-appear-cool community does all right. It’s fluffy, but so far appears to be sugar-free. (I can see the top dogs in the boardroom now: “The 25-35 set who watches The Daily Show and can afford hybrids will really like this one, guys…”). Or, as Jon Stewart might say…”Feh.”

Eating Fabulous
Who is this fabulous person behind this fabulous blog? Eat your way to great health – it can be done. Though this blog focuses on other issues besides heart health – probiotics, diabetes, weight loss, allergies – the focus is sensibly alternative without skating into bizarre-theories-r-us territory. I know I’m always shilling this site, but it’s awesome!

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