Category: Carbs

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 … Continue reading “Corn Is Not a Vegetable”

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Smart Fuel After Turkey Day

SMART FUEL

Today’s Smart Fuel isn’t any particular item. Instead, let’s address the real topic at hand: the mountain of Thanksgiving leftovers lurking in the fridge. Perhaps you really indulged yesterday and felt more like a stuffed turkey yourself than a human about to eat one. Or, perhaps you were the model of restraint. No need to reveal which one.

For the weekend, for everyone, the smartest way to fuel up is to give away the sweets, get in a few good workouts, and enjoy the turkey. High in protein and some good fats, turkey is a fairly healthy choice (certainly in comparison to pie, candied yams and stuffing).

I don’t want to be responsible for any Pilgrims turning over in their graves here, but I’m always a little amused (no…annoyed) at what Thanksgiving has become. Why can’t we have a holiday where we all get together and exercise? Or make food for the homeless? Or how about a potluck where everyone has to bring a new, undiscovered healthy food?

If Americans didn’t already eat like it were Thanksgiving every single day (as many do…look at the portions at most restaurants), I’d say dig in, gobble, and don’t wear your belt. Unfortunately, I don’t see many belts at all these days.

[tags] Thanksgiving, turkey, Pilgrims, leftovers [/tags]

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Sisson Says: Don’t “Loaf” Around

CARB CONCERNS

Apples are asking what I think about bread. The short answer: not very much. But this is an ongoing issue worthy of some debate, so let’s get it started:

In general, the best source of carbohydrates is a vegetable, not a grain (unless you are an athlete, in which case, you’re probably just trying to consume as many calories as possible).

Among other things, grains contain lectins, a mild toxin (is there such a thing as a mild toxin?). Technically, grains don’t “want” to be your next meal. They didn’t really evolve to be our food source – we humans exploited them when we figured out how easy they were to grow. Consequently, they’re in everything – especially processed foods – because they’re cheap and can be made into just about anything, from sauces to syrups to candies to side dishes.

It’s not for nothing that our ancestors ate only flesh (meat and fish), nuts, roots, fruits and berries, and grabbed at wild greens for fiber. In fact, there’s a whole dietary movement – sometimes called the Caveman diet, sometimes the Paleo diet – we cautiously subscribe to (I’m uncomfortable with extreme diets, though I also am uncomfortable with how we define “extreme”!) Why? Grains are a relatively new thing for humans, and the evidence increasingly points to the notion that this isn’t a good development. If you’re into learning more, check out our Carbs category.

I recommend that you stick to zero grains a day. On the whole, I stick to vegetables for my carbs – I just don’t really “do” carbs. Vegetables have far more vitamins, fiber and minerals than grain-sourced carbohydrates, and they are much lower in calories, giving you room for protein and vital fat. Vegetables also keep your blood sugar levels at a healthy, low level, so you don’t start pumping your pancreas to death.

Scientists point out that the human body was designed to subsist on a mixture of fresh vegetables, good fats (from nuts, fish, oils, and meats), and protein (from fresh meats, beans, a little dairy, and fish). Add in plenty of water, occasional fruit, and you’re set. On the whole, avoid the processed, unnatural, refined, sugary stuff. Try it for just one week and you’ll notice a big difference – really.

[tags] caveman diet, paleolithic diet, paleo diet, no-grain diet, sugar, blood sugar, grains, fiber, paleodan, anthropology [/tags]

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