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

Mark's Daily Apple

8 Dec

Be a Better Butternut

SMART FUEL

Why eat “I’ll have diabetes with that” spuds when you can eat mellow, healthy butternut squash?

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This delicately-flavored squash typically comes cubed in the produce section. It’s also a popular soup puree. And it sure beats other starchy vegetables in the nutrition department. One serving gives you half your daily vitamin C requirement and 450% of your vitamin A requirement! At 80 calories per cup (compared to 100 for a small potato), with little impact on your blood sugar, butternuts are just better! You can mash, bake, puree, slice, and dice to your heart’s content.

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6 Dec

The Personal Trainer that Fits in Your Pocket

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Have you ever dreamed of having a personal trainer at your side to offer guidance, advice and words of encouragement when the going gets tough? (Wouldn’t that be nice!) Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone at your beck and call to give you direction, and assist you through your rigorous workouts? Now you can have all this without it breaking the bank. PumpOne is an innovative approach to providing exercise and workout routines to people on the go. All you need is a compatible iPod, Blackberry, Zune, or any other similar such hand-held device that allows you to store and view color images (jpegs). Their site provides dozens of downloadable workout routines in the categories of strength, weight-loss, endurance, flexibility and heart-health so that you can target your fitness goals. Each routine costs between $19 and $29 and has numerous exercises. With the varying types of workouts and levels 1, 2 and 3 difficulties there is bound to be a routine that fits your needs. Still, don’t be discouraged if you don’t see exactly what you are looking for right away as an expanded inventory is coming this fall when ‘sports specific training for golf, skiing, triathlon training, tennis, wakeboarding, and outdoor pre/post natal and senior workouts’ will be released.

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6 Dec

What’s Up with Denmark?

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Sara here. My Danish grandmother will be horrified by this post, but in my selfless devotion to you Apples, I’m taking that risk.

And so, I have to ask: What is up with Denmark? (Huh? you ask. Just go with me on this.) I’ve noticed a strange trend over the last decade. This could be my own erroneous inductive research here – in fact, I actually hope so – but the Land of Lutefisk seems strangely supportive of Big Pharma and the status quo (sorry, Grams).

First, two years ago, I heard about some “landmark” studies that came out of Old Dansk announcing that there is absolutely no link between autism and vaccinations containing thimerosal (a form of mercury). Nevermind that autism rates sharply increased around the same time that vaccines started being preserved with thimerosal. Nevermind that mercury poisoning symptoms and autism symptoms are virtually indistinguishable. Now, to be fair, the mercury/autism debate is hugely controversial precisely because we don’t have a definitive answer yet. I suspect the eventual conclusion may implicate thimerosal, at least as part of the equation.

But, then, there was the fish study. Once again, researchers in Denmark came up with – er, concluded – that fish oil does not help those interested in reducing their heart disease risk. The study was a review, which is right up there with questionnaires in terms of scientific accuracy. Even worse, it was a review of cohort studies (cohort studies can have major problems with causation vs. correlation). Moreover, reading the fine print (not just the abstract), what the study essentially “discovered” was that people who are at a high risk for heart problems do benefit from fish oil, while people who are at a low risk do not. Now, think about that. In other words, people who don’t have a problem will not benefit from a solution. Kind of like how my grease-cutting counter disinfectant won’t do a great job of cleaning my freshly-scrubbed counters, either. But after this study was reported in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, amazingly, what got media attention was that fish consumption just doesn’t help heart issues. No one got excited about the additional finding that high-risk people can help their hearts with fish oil – just 40 to 60 mg a day can help! (That’s actually okay, since there are already hundreds of rigorously-conducted studies proving fish oil is good for reducing your heart disease risk.)

The lesson: Apparently, 1) Create a study following less-than-ideal methodology, 2) determine absolutely nothing from it, and 3) leave out the important part and splash the meaningless part all over the news. Hey, if it looks like a duck…it might be a Danish study.

Now, since then, there have been some pro-fish studies, so I’m willing to give the motherland the benefit of the doubt. Although I have seen several other pro-dairy, pro-drug, pro-status quo studies from Denmark, I will withhold judgment until more evidence presents itself.

Except, now, hot off the presses, an authoritative announcement out of – you guessed it – Denmark: cell phones do not have any negative effect on the brain. Scientists in Copenhagen compared over 400,000 Danish cell phone users to the rest of the Danish population. They say that there was no compelling data to indicate that cell phone users had any greater risk of cancer or brain abnormalities. This does seem to confirm what the majority of cell phone studies have already concluded (except ones like this). The electromagnetic rays emitted by cell phones haven’t been found to have any impact on our DNA or cell structure. Fair enough.

But I’m watching you, Denmark.

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6 Dec

The Buckler Brief

EVERYTHING YOU EVER WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT:

QUERCETIN

WHAT IT IS: Quercetin is an antioxidant flavonoid present in everything from wine and tea to onions and garlic. Apples, green vegetables and leafy greens also contain this powerful antioxidant. Quercetin is particularly helpful for overworked blood vessels, meaning it may help those seeking optimal heart health.

WHAT IT DOES: Quercetin is one antioxidant of many; other flavonoid antioxidants include polyphenols, red wine’s resveratrol, and tea’s catechins. All are vital to good health. In general, antioxidants destroy the dangerous free radicals that are responsible for many health problems that have roots in cellular damage. Quercetin is unique because it does more than the typical antioxidant – in addition to destroying free radicals and supporting cardiovascular health, quercetin may boost cellular energy levels.

STUDIES SHOW: Well-documented studies show that quercetin is capable of blocking an enzyme called catechol-O-methyltransferase (or COMT). By inhibiting this enzyme, the level of a substance called norepinephrine is raised, creating several neat effects. Scientists think some of these may include increased energy expenditure and possibly more. It’s recently been shown that quercetin appears to support LDL (bad) cholesterol oxidation. This makes it a terrific supplement to support a healthy cardiovascular system.

In addition, quercetin is known to have antihistamine effects, making it a valuable antioxidant supplement for those troubled by allergies. Recent research has theorized that quercetin may also be beneficial to asthmatics for this very reason.

WHY WE LIKE IT: We really dig quercetin for its antioxidant properties and subsequent role in overall health. Since quercetin may help to fight heart problems (though this theory is not conclusive), we think it’s important for everyone.

Quercetin is also great for those with allergies because of its antihistamine effects. An important vasodilator, quercetin supports the cardiovascular system and may strengthen blood vessels. In addition, quercetin’s known ability to increase norepinephrine levels in the brain leads many scientists to believe quercetin may help to increase one’s cellular energy output. That’s one hard-working antioxidant!

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