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

Mark's Daily Apple

1 May

Sergeant Pepper

This week’s Tuesday 10 is in response to junior apple Tricia, who emailed me yesterday with the following question:

“Mark, I have heard that spicy foods can prevent cancer. Is this true? Does this mean things like salsa, or curries? And what about heartburn?”

Great questions, Trish! “Spicy foods” do indeed help prevent cancer. I’m not making that up. (For the research-hungry, check out these must-reads: this study, this site, this article and this blogger’s take).

“Spices” – specifically, we’re talking about capsicum plants like chili peppers – also have important cardiovascular benefits. Junior Apple Steve saw his heart rate and blood pressure drop after he switched from using black pepper to cayenne pepper. (I have it on good authority he now liberally doses all his meals with some heat.) Peppers are loaded to the gills with a variety of powerful antioxidants that go beyond cancer prevention. If they had gills.

Peppery foods carry the reputation of being irritating to the digestive tract, although in truth peppers have healing properties. Many of the spicy foods that are infamous for causing heartburn are actually irritating because of the huge amounts of processed (fried or trans) fat. Trans fat, remember, is a real irritant to the system because it is full of oxidizing free radicals. Throw spice into the mix and no wonder it’s a recipe for heartburn and stomach discomfort. Spice just adds insult to injury if you’re chowing on those fried, high-calorie foods.

Some healthy heat, when coupled with vegetables and sparing amounts of good fats from things like olive oil or nuts, is surprisingly enjoyable for even the most sensitive bellies. And there are plenty of healthy peppers that aren’t spicy at all.

There are dozens of varieties of peppers, and many are not only mild, but sweet. Here are ten great “hots” that will do your body good:

10. Curry

Red, yellow, green, hot, medium, mild – just eat it. Curried vegetables and lean meats are really, really good, and curcumin-containing curry helps prevent cancer. You can buy ready-made curry sauces, but make sure you’re getting a healthy one that isn’t full of mostly sugar and oil. I suggest buying fresh, loose yellow curry powder (which contains turmeric, the important ingredient) and making your own sauce at home. A popular Western alternative: paprika.


This is Barron’s Flickr Photo

9. Chili pepper

However you buy it (dried, fresh), this regular old hot pepper is excellent for the heart. These are Thai chilis. I’ve been addicted to them ever since my recent trip to Thailand.


This is Nicodeemus1′s Flickr Photo

8. Cayenne pepper

Try substituting powdered cayenne for black pepper and watch your heart rate improve. It’s also less irritating to the stomach than black pepper.


This is Princes Milady’s Flickr Photo

7. Habanero pepper

Is this thing the spiciest substance on earth, or is it just me? I’m not a fan, but if you love intense heat and/or torture, this guy is full of eye-healthy antioxidants. Good luck.


This is Code Poet’s Flickr Photo

6. Jalapeno pepper

The ubiquitous pepper comes in a range of heat, but almost everyone can handle the mild selection. Lots of flavor, really powerful antioxidant benefit. Salsa is one of the healthiest foods you can eat because it’s essentially an antioxidant explosion – tomatoes, jalapenos, onions and often garlic.


This is ilmungo’s Flickr Photo

5. Poblano (ancho) pepper

Gentler on the mouth, but still really nutritious.


This is Progoddess’ Flickr Photo

4. Anaheim pepper

Milder still (some come spicy). Both poblanos and anaheims are great peeled, then baked or stewed.


This is Confident_Cook’s Flickr Photo

3. Bell pepper

I eat these crisp babies daily – red, orange, yellow, green.


This is JStar’s Flickr Photo

2. Baby bell pepper

Have you tried these out? They’re popping up in grocery stores everywhere. I lop off the tops and toss them into just about everything from salads to stir fries. Appropriately lopped, they also make a great natural scoop for hummus.


This is Vandys’ Flickr Photo

1. Serrano pepper

A little more kick than jalapenos, and great in salsa, salad, stews, you name it.


This is Icka’s Flickr Photo

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30 Apr

The Good, the Bad and the Metallic

Worker Bees’ Daily Bites:

There’s a country where obesity is highly desirable. Mineral cosmetics may be worse for you than the regular cosmetics. And we’re all abuzz over the latest mold. (You’ll see…)

Not Exactly Rubenesque

Sugar Shock reports that in Mauritania, women are aggressively encouraged to be morbidly obese – to the point of daily force-feeding of gallons of camel milk to female children in some cases. But before you go pointing fingers at this unhealthy and upsetting cultural oddity, remember that we are living in the land of the Heart Attack Grill and the 2,700 calorie onion appetizer. The difference is that we seem to be willing to become obese.


We just can’t get over this burger. For the millionth time.

Going Metallic

You’ve all seen those countless ads – and dozens of new drugstore products – touting the alleged natural, healthy value of mineral cosmetics. Ladies, this may be another case of quackery. We thought that whole marketing concept seemed a little weird. “Metal is healthier for your skin than…wait, metal?”


This is Kayepants’ Flickr Photo

Mold You Don’t Want to Scrape Off and Sue Your Landlord Over

We recently linked to blogger Moldybluecheesecurds’ (yes) snippet on school nutrition reform. Moldy was nice enough to review our site, so we want to give a quick shout out! Be sure to visit this thought-provoking political ‘n social commentary blog if you’re into such topics as Iraq, oil, Uncle Sam, and global warming. We’re not really political (except when it comes to health!). But if you are, you just might like this frequently updated blog.

Meet Good News!

Think getting healthy is an uphill battle that makes summiting Everest look like a walk in the park parking lot? Think again! These people did it, and you can, too!

“Formula” for Obesity

We Americans seem to be having trouble with babies these days (for the love of intact ceilings, don’t tell the Fuji). First, New Scientist reports that the weight standards for babies are ridiculously high, paving the way for widespread obesity. And rotten teeth in the tiny tots is a growing problem thanks to things like soda and “sports drinks”. Little chicks deserve better!

30 Apr

Do You Mean What You Say? Big Deal.

Merely Meaning It

You don’t have to be a Star Wars nerd to remember Yoda’s words: “There is no try. There is only do.” Despite the green and the wrinkles, that little guy was on to something.

The difference between trying and doing – between wishing and being – is possibly the most significant factor in living the life that will fulfill you versus merely existing. We all know those people who “try” to improve; we also know the people who simply get things done. From the outside, getting things done (and doing them well) can look like luck, or connections, or timing. Certainly these things can be part of the equation. Positive thinking and action gets you pretty far, but others’ actions are their own, and can either help or hinder you (and there’s usually not a whole lot you can do about that, despite what purveyors of The Secret might have you believe).

But I think there’s something different going on here. Problems and disappointments just don’t add up under the current try vs. do system. Yoda was on to something, but not everything.

I believe that very few people are truly malicious, and yet: we are constantly let down and disappointed by others, whether that’s individuals, groups, organizations, institutions. How is this possible? And the fact that we are by nature “self-interested”, while true, still doesn’t explain why people hurt each other, let each other down, or, you know…try to get better.

Let me ask you:

- How many of you have ever been hurt by someone whom you know seemed to mean it when they said they wanted to be better…but nothing changed?

- How many of you have been baffled by someone’s words and actions being completely incongruous – baffled because you know they meant what they said? (If that’s not cognitive dissonance…)

- How many of you have really agonized over whether or not someone meant what he or she said? Because meaning it would make all the difference?

Think of all the movies and shows – especially dramas and romantic comedies – that feature heart-to-hearts discussing this very issue: “Did he mean it when he said…” “But if she meant it, then…”

Guess what? Not only is trying not the same as doing, but meaning is not the same as doing, either.

Does a person mean what he says? Big deal.

Meaning does not equal being. Only doing equals being. I believe if people realized this – that a person can still fundamentally mean what he says and never live up to it – we’d be a lot better off. We give “meaning what you say” a lot of weight in this society. A lot. As long as you meant it: meaning those words implies sincerity, honesty, genuineness. “I just have to know that she meant it.”

The real reason we give “meaning it” so much weight is because we have met those rare people who actually do what they say. What they “mean” is who they “are”. Unfortunately, a lot of people who aren’t so possessed of this depth of character have gotten the notion that simply saying something with earnest belief is therefore good enough. They go through life really, truly believing that they are responsible – because hey, they mean what they say. We meet people and interact with folks every day who clearly think that meaning what they say has given them entrance into the “doing and being” club. They themselves don’t see it. And most of the time, they really aren’t malicious – they really do mean what they say (which makes it painful for the rest of us, who believe it when someone “means it”).

But their endless cycles of drama and tension and dissatisfaction are the direct result of the fact that they merely mean what they say. Meaning isn’t being.

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30 Apr

The Weekly Health Challenge

This week’s healthy challenge:

Eat lightly at all your evening meals this week.

Going to bed without feeling like a bumbling beluga has many wonderful health benefits, both immediate and long-term. Before you tackle yet another shoe-size burrito (what is it with those titanic burritos?), think about the health benefits of keeping your evenings on the lighter side:

- deeper, more restful sleep

- waking up hungry – and more ready for the day (a sign of a properly operating metabolism!)

- better…ahem…digestion

- proper production of hormones for sleep and health, including human growth hormone and melatonin

- it’s better for the environment, because you’re using less

- it’s better for you, because you’re not taxing your heart while you sleep

- over the course of several weeks, you’ll likely lose a coupla pounds

- eating lighter just makes you feel lighter!

Good evening meals I like include salads and steamed vegetable mixes. These fiber knock-outs are usually no more than 300 or so calories.

salad 1

This is Chatirygirl’s Flickr Photo

30 Apr

My Ever-Growing Blogroll

A friend alerted me that Technorati isn’t showing some of the links on my blogroll. Oops! Here’s the list (ever-growing). Sorry if anyone felt left out all this time!

Health, Food, (no) Carbs, Friends and Fitness:


UltraMetabolism Blog


GI News

Body Hack

Health Wonk Review

Weight of the Evidence

Body, Mind & Solar

Six Until Me.

Health News Blog


The Daily Rx

Eating Fabulous

Interactive Health

Julie’s Health Club



The BradVentures

That’s Fit


Men’s Health Blog

The Fitness Insider

Recovox Daily News


Dr. Mirkin

The Health Care Blog

Livin’ La Vida Low Carb

Sugar Shock

Lean and Hungry Fitness

A Hearty Life

Laurel on Health Food

The Insomnia Blog

Nutrition Frenzy

Moms Organic House

Lose Weight With Me

Buy Organic

Low Carb Freedom

Gluten-Free Girl

Calorie Lab

Waisted in the Wasteland

I Ate a Pie

Almost Vegetarian

Diet Detective

Supplement News Blog

Personal Improvement

Ririan Project

Zen Habits

The Good Human

Dumb Little Man


Centre for Emotional Well-Being

The Last Psychiatrist

Marketing & The Man

Extra Texture

Food Processing

Retail Insider

The Consumerist

Political Friendster

Health Care Vox

Shaping Youth

Big Pharma & the FDA

Pharma Gossip


Environment & World

The Good Human



Other Great Blogs and Sites

Blog Award

Slow Twitch

Junk Food Blog

Junk Food Science

Supersized Meals

Candy Blog


Tech Space

Time Eye On Science


Omni Brain

Darwin Awards

Suicide Food

Eye on DNA


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