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

Mark's Daily Apple

18 Dec

Corn Is Not a Vegetable

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…

corn

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18 Dec

A Monday Moment

The Roman philosopher and emperor, Marcus Aurelius, taught a helpful little idea that Markus Sisson (sorry) wants to pass along to all of you.

While Latin is fun and all, here is the paraphrase:

People exist for each other. Then either improve them, or put up with them.

Either change, or let go. Doing the same thing won’t get you anywhere but where you are!

Enjoy your Monday!

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18 Dec

Holiday Health Challenge!

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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15 Dec

Welcome!

The beta play is done. The Worker Bees are ready. And the fun is just beginning! Welcome to the official launch of Mark Sisson’s Daily Apple! Hang on tight for a healthy 2007.

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14 Dec

Thursday’s Thought Fuss

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!

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* 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.

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