Archive for May, 2007
— Jamie Church
In essence, restaurant refried beans are mashed pinto beans mixed with several tablespoons of lard.
The standard side dish of refried beans at a restaurant clocks in at 350 – 400 calories and provides 30% of your saturated fat and 35% of your daily sodium needs! You are better off getting a side of black beans.
It is possible to make a healthier alternative of this dish at home with lower quantities of healthier oils, but at a restaurant all you are getting is an extra shot of calories and unhealthy fat.
Not only are you unaware of what (and how much of it) goes into your food, you also have to take extra precautions to make sure you aren’t getting an overload of calories, sugar, and unhealthy fats. Allow me to provide some help:
• Don’t go to a restaurant starving. Half an hour or so before heading out the door, grab a very light snack (i.e.: five or six Triscuit crackers dipped in salsa, a cup of nonfat yogurt, half a cup of veggies with hummus).
• Beware the bread basket. It’s funny, isn’t it? Someone puts a basket of bread in front of us and we eat it, even if we didn’t ask for it. If any whole wheat varieties are available, reach for those first. Also, beware of buttery breads (i.e.: croissants), which add calories and fat. Lastly, go for balance. If you are hankering for a pasta dish, pass on the bread. If, instead, you are thinking along the lines of a fish and broccoli dinner, give yourself a pass for a small nibble from the basket.
• Always ask for sauces, dressings, and gravies on the side. With salads, dip your fork in the dressing before each bite. With sauces and gravies, pour in no more than half of the amount you are given. With fattening condiments such as mayonnaise, dab a very light coating inside one of your sandwich’s bread slices. Even better, ask for mustard instead.
• Start with a broth-based soup or salad (except Caesar — it provides as much saturated fat as a large order of McDonald’s fries!) and follow it up with an appetizer, rather than an entrée. Then, feel free to share a dessert with someone else.
• When it comes to meat, poultry, and fish, always go for grilled, broiled, baked, roasted, and steamed choices.
• At an Italian restaurant, go for tomato-based sauces, rather than cream ones.
• Restaurant portions are HUGE. Forget the childhood “there are people starving in the world!” guilt-loaded parental speeches and, when you’re full, stop eating. If you really loved your dish, ask to take the rest home.
• Watch out for liquid calories. A Thai iced tea adds 200 calories to your meal, while a standard 6 and half ounce champagne flute clocks in at 170 calories.
• Don’t be afraid to substitute! A salad with fried chicken strips becomes healthier if you replace them with grilled chicken strips. Similarly, brown rice or steamed veggies make for a more nutritious side dish than white or fried rice, or restaurant mashed potatoes.
• Make sure you have at least one (non-fried and not smothered in sauce or cheese) vegetable with your meal.
• Avoid these nutrition disasters: tempura dishes, refried beans, any pasta dish “alfredo”, “batter-dipped” and “deep fried” items, dark meat chicken entrees, fried rice, scalloped potatoes.
First, consider that the standard serving listed on a food label for ready-to-eat granola is a quarter of a cup, which is ridiculously small. If you are having granola for breakfast you are very likely pouring in three times that amount into your bowl.
A quarter cup provides 150 calories, 7 grams of fat, and 5 grams of sugar. That means that 3/4 of a cup adds up to 450 calories, 21 grams of fat, and 15 grams (almost 4 teaspoons) of sugar.
Granola bars aren’t much better. They might sound healthy, what with being “oat and honey” flavored or “made with real berries”. The ingredient list always tells the tale.
Consider the ingredients in Nature Valley’s Oats & Honey granola bars:
Whole Grain Rolled Oats, Sugar, Canola Oil, Crisp Rice (Rice Flour, Sugar, Malt, Salt), Soy Protein, Honey, Brown Sugar Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Salt, Soy Lecithin, Baking Soda, Natural Flavor, Almond Flour, Peanut Flour.
Kudos for having whole grain oats, but jeers for having sugar as the second ingredient (and then having it appear four more times, once as the dreaded high fructose corn syrup).
At the end of the day, one serving (two small bars) provides 11 grams of sugar (almost an entire tablespoon) but only 2 grams of fiber.
Quaker’s low-fat chocolate chip granola bars only offer a longer list ingredients.
Even more troubling, at only 2 grams of fat, 1 gram of protein, and 1 gram of fiber, they lack enough of these nutrients to make us feel full.
This is often a problem with low-fat processed food — it does not help our body feel full, so 45 minutes later we’re snacking on something else and consuming more calories.
For such a small granola bar, it sure manages to fit in a slew of ingredients:
Granola [Whole Grain Rolled Oats, Sugar, Rice Flour, Whole Grained Rolled Wheat, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean And Cottonseed Oils With TBHQ And Acid Added To Preserve Freshness And/Or Sunflower Oil With Natural Tocopherol Added To Preserve Freshness, Whole Wheat Flour, Molasses, Soy Lecithin, Caramel Color, Barley, Malt, Salt, Nonfat Dry Milk), Corn Syrup, Crisp Rice (Rice, Sugar, Salt, Barley Malt), Semisweet Chocolate Chunks [Sugar, Chocolate Liquor, Cocoa Butter, Soy Lecithin , Vanillin ([An Artificial Flavor]), Sugar, Corn Syrup Solids, Glycerin, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Sugar, Fructose, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean And/Or Cottenseed Oil, Sorbitol, Calcium Carbonate, Natural And Artificial Flavors, Salt, Molasses, Water, Soy Lechitin, BHT 9A Preservative), Citric Acid.
Number of times sugar appears on the label: 11! As if that weren’t enough, there are also cloyingly sweet sugar alcohols added on (in the form of sorbitol).
Even worse, partially hydrogenated oils show up TWICE on the food label. Remember, partially hydrogenated oils indicate the presence of trans fats. Additionally, food manufacturers can get away with saying there are 0 grams of trans fat in their product if there are less than .5 grams per serving.
Half a gram might seem like nothing, but we really shouldn’t be getting ANY trans fat in our diet.
What to do when you are on the road and craving granola? Opt for the much healthier Kashi TLC granola bars. I love the crunchy roasted almond and crunchy pumpkin spice flax varieties!
Even Consumer Reports acknowledges the effectiveness of the low carb diet, albeit the difficulty of adhering to it.
I have seen the studies showing that low-carb diets are effective for weight loss.
However, if you fully read the research, you come to find that this is because low-carb diets restrict so many food groups (grains, most of the fruit and veggie groups, and some of the dairy group), that the dieters on them end up eating less total calories!
Therefore, the key to weight loss truly does come down to calorie counting. I know, it’s boring. It’s not about your blood type, or what time you eat, or whether or not your apple was flown in from Switzerland or picked from your backyard. It comes down to calories.
That being said, that the goal of losing weight isn’t just to shed pounds, but to do it in a way that allows your body to get the nutrients it needs. Going low-carb, for instance, means missing out on fiber as well as a variety of vitamins and minerals (i.e.: vitamin C) and antioxidants found in foods not allowed in low-carb diets.
If you notice, many of my All-Stars — which provide an abundance of nutrients — are fruits and vegetables. Sadly, you can’t have most of them if you go low carb.
Thanks again for writing!
Kevin Trudeau begins Natural Cures “They” Don’t Want You To Know About by sharing a personal anecdote. At the age of 21, he was diagnosed with mitral valve prolapse (a disorder in which the structure of the heart isn’t developed correctly, thus interfering with normal bloodflow).
He goes on to say that doctors told him he had a very short time to live unless he took experimental drugs or had risky surgery.
Hmmmm… well, I went to one of the best sources in the world for information on heart health – the Mayo Clinic.
According to them, “In most people, mitral valve prolapse is harmless and doesn’t require treatment or changes in lifestyle. It also doesn’t shorten your life expectancy. In some people with mitral valve prolapse, however, the progression of the disease requires treatment.”
The treatment can involve surgery in serious situations, but it can also include rather standard (not at all experimental) drugs like beta blockers — which help regulate the heart muscle — and aspirin.
Kevin Trudeau is quick to point out that many of these drugs have terrible side effects and should be avoided like the plague, since they end up causing more health problems.
While it is true that you often see a plethora of side effects linked to all medication, this is largely due to legal protection. If a given drug has been shown to cause nausea in 1% of test subjects, this symptom must be listed on the package to prevent lawsuits. A “possible symptom” should not be used as a scare tactic.
For instance, when I had to have two wisdom teeth extracted a few years ago, I had to sign a waiver saying I was aware that there was a chance I might die as a result of the general anesthetic. Does this mean wisdom tooth extraction surgery is a public health threat? No.
Trudeau claims he chose to have live cell injections in Mexico and Switzerland, which miraculously cured his condition. I would love to know more details (not surprisingly, his account is terribly short and vague), especially since there is no way live cell injections can change the shape and structure of someone’s heart and completely do away with mitral valve prolapse.
Furthermore, Trudeau appears to forget that live cell injections also carry risks – including inflammation and the formation of tumors. Additionally, gene therapy is not a “one shot” deal. Mind you, this kind of treatment is still fairly new, but subjects who undergo it need several rounds of the treatment to reap any benefits.
Trudeau claims he told his doctors about the miracle cure, thinking they would be overjoyed and pretty much ready to tell anyone who had mitral valve prolapse, “Take a jet to Switzerland and get this amazing treatment!”.
Instead, they told him that it was very likely he had been misdiagnosed (especially since live cell injections are supposed to be used for conditions related to one specific gene defect, which mitral valve prolapse is NOT). Trudeau, however, uses this as initial “proof” to his belief – that there are natural cures out there purposefully being denied to us by doctors and the government.
Interestingly enough, he refers to all these things as cures, rather than treatments. By using the word “cures”, he is undeniably saying that these methods will absolutely rid someone of their disease.
He then boldly states, “Yes, there are all-natural, nondrug, and nonsurgical cures for most every illness and disease.”
Of course, Trudeau doesn’t tell you what these are because, according to him, he is being censored by the Federal Trade Commission.
Mind you, throughout his book, Trudeau mentions he is “mad as hell” at the fact that food companies and the healthcare industry “are all about the money.” However, he doesn’t appear to flinch when it comes to having people pay for his book and then direct them to his website, where they have to pay more fees just to read his newsletter (which, according to him, is an active way to support his cause).
In Chapter 1, Trudeau claims the field of nutrition has consistently changed its mind about what causes obesity and that, at the end of the day, “nobody knows.”
What he fails to realize is that it was not nutritionists advocating low-fat diets in the 90s, low-carb diets a few years back, or trying to push ridiculous diets like food combining or “eat for your blood type”. These diets have all been created by people with no nutrition credentials, or understanding of the field.
It was always nutritionists who came out and said, “It just comes down to calories. If you are interested in losing weight, rather than eating a block of Swiss cheese and 2 pounds of ham but avoiding oatmeal, just have half of your ham and Swiss sandwich for lunch and save the rest for dinner.”
The cause for the rising obesity problem in the United S
tates is very well-known: people are consuming more calories and burning less of them.
Portion sizes in this country have been expanding at alarming rates over the past two decades (which, incidentally, will be the topic of the next issue of the Small Bites newsletter). For Kevin Trudeau to say that “no one really knows” what causes obesity is not only misleading, but also untrue.
Chapter 1 is just the beginning of Trudeau’s gutsy claims. This weekend, we’ll take a closer look at some of the statements in Chapter 2 that had me shaking my head and furiously scribbling on the page margins.
Take a look at THIS LINK and see just how far from reality many of these fast food chains’ commercials are.
According to figures published by the United States Department of Agriculture, high fructose corn syrup consumption in the United States clocked in at _____ pounds per person per year in 1966, and climbed to _______ pounds per person per year by 2001.
a) 11, 38
b) 5, 50
c) 2, 49
d) 0, 62
Leave your guess in the “comments” section and check back on Saturday for the answer!
Peanuts are an excellent source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, the same ones that make olive oil and salmon such powerfoods. Remember, diet high in monounsaturated fats and low in saturated fats has been proven to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by as much as 20 percent. “Low-fat” is not the answer; “smart fat” is!
An ounce of peanuts contains 164 calories, 7 grams of protein, 10 percent of our daily folate recommendation, 29 percent of our managenese needs, and 19 percent of our suggested niacin (vitamin B-3) intake.
Although those figures themselves might not be groundbreaking, peanuts’ antioxidant level is extremely high, rivaling that of many fruits.
In fact, resveratrol (the antioxidant found in grapes — and, thus, red wine — that boasts tremendous heart-healthy properties) is found in significant quantities in peanuts!
A plant compound known as beta-sitosterol also exists naturally in peanuts, and recent research links it to reductions in rates of breast and prostate cancer.
A 10-year study in Taiwan involving over 20,000 subjects (published in the January 2006 issue of the World Journal of Gastroenterology) found that the average participant who ate an ounce of peanuts twice a week lowered their risk of colon cancer by 34 percent!
Additionally, studies at Pennsylvania State University’s nutrition department found that regular consumption of foods high in monounsaturated fats — such as peanuts — lowered triglycerides while keeping heart-healty HDL cholesterol stable, whereas a low-fat diet LOWERED HDL levels.
Yes, peanuts are high in fat (one ounce provides 14 grams of fat), but this has proven to be a positive attribute.
Studies at Harvard, Penn State, and even countries like Israel and Papua New Guinea all came to the same conclusion. When subjects were allowed to eat an ounce of peanuts as a snack twice a day, they reported feeling fuller and therefore eating less total calories a day!
So, yes, you can most certainly enjoy peanut butter as a grown adult. However, be sure to buy “natural” peanut butter (Smuckers is my favorite). The ingredients? Just two – peanuts and salt.
Most conventional peanut butter adds “partially hydrogenated oils” (the always evil trans-fats) and added sugars, which turn this all-star into a fallen celestial body.
Everyone knows vegetables contain a multitude of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, but what if I told you that serving of broccoli you ate last night only had 10% of the nutrients you thought it did?
Cooking methods are crucial in determining just how many health benefits we get from our food.
Any method involving water — such as boiling — will greatly decrease the amount of folate, vitamin C, and B vitamins in vegetables. Even worse, new studies show that many antioxidants are depleted when vegetables are cooked in water.
The solution? Steaming! Many nutrients are preserved this way, since vegetables are cooked over water, rather than in it. Consequently, nutrients are lost are in much smaller quantities than when they are immersed in water.
Microwaving is your second best option. I say “second best” because it involves light, which can deplete vitamin A, B2 (riboflavin), C, D, and E. Granted, a four-minute zap in the microwave will not render the vitamin C in broccoli completely useless, but it will result in a higher loss than if you were to simply steam it.
Sauteeing and frying do not leech out nutrients, but do add on calories and fat. Yes, it is advisable to have some fat with your vegetables to maximize nutrient absorption, but a smarter move is to steam them and then drizzle a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil on top rather than cook them in 2 or 3 tablespoons of oil (especially at 120 calories a pop).
An April 2007 investigation by the Institute of Medicine revealed that 98 percent of high schools in the United States sell “junk food” (high-calorie, high-fat, sugary snacks and/or beverages) either in vending machines or snack stores.
Many high schools are under the false belief that they are offering “healthier alternatives” because they stock Snapple rather than Coca-Cola. Really? Snapple has as much added sugar — in the form of high fructose corn syrup — as soda.
Although the claim “wheat-free” also accompanies other health-related ones such as “Low in saturated fat!” or “No added sugar!”, you should only be concerned with avoiding wheat if you have been diagnosed with an allergy to it or a genetic disease known as celiac disease.
Celiacs can not tolerate gluten, a protein mainly found in wheat as well as barley and rye.
When gluten is consumed — even if it’s as little as 1/8 of a teaspoon — the small intestine is damaged, and symptoms vary from extremely uncomfortable bloating and diarrhea to fatigue, mouth sores, and muscle cramps.
Although approximately ten percent of celiacs don’t appear to show any symptoms, they are not immune from the nutrient malabsorption that occurs as a result of damage in the small intestine.
Avoiding wheat, rye, and barley is not as easy as it sounds.
Many medicines have traces of gluten, and cross-contamination can often happen in factories (which is why you will often see food labels for products that don’t contain either of those three ingredients warning consumers that the respective food was made in a factory that processes wheat).
Once diagnosed (after a simple blood test), the lifestyle change can be hard, especially when dining out.
A fish and vegetable stew might sound harmless, but that tomato sauce on top might have a little flour in it to thicken it. Frozen yogurts often use gluten as a stabilizing agent!
Remember, even the slightest trace of gluten is enough to set off some very uncomfortable symptoms.
Luckily, celiacs have more options than ever. Although all sorts of wheat flour (all-purpose, whole wheat, durum, farina, etc.) should be avoided, experimenting with other types (ie: chickpea, tapioca, rice) is recommended.
Celiacs often end up introducing their palate to a variety of flavors — quinoa, amaranth, and flax often become a regular addition to their diet, rather than the “funky grain” they have once a month.
Unfortunately, the only “cure” to celiac disease is complete avoidance of foods that damage the small intestine.
— Derek Naughman
This is undoubtedly one of the most prevalent nutrition myths.
This all stems from a scientific report which concluded that humans need approximately 64 to 75 ounces of fluid a day.
The mass media reported this as “64 ounces of water a day,” completely oblivious to the fact that said figure accounted for water present in the food we eat as well as beverages other than H2O (milk, coffee, tea, soda, juice, etc).
If the food we ate was lacking in water, it would practically be impossible to swallow it. Granted, some food (cucumbers, watermelons) offers more hydration than others (peanut butter).
Yes, you read correctly — coffee contributes to that water figure. Some of you might be confused, since caffeine, a natural diuretic, dehydrates.
Many clinical research trials, however, have shown that regular coffee drinkers’ bodies get used to the caffeine intake and their fluid loss, if any, is minimal.
While it is possible that a new coffee drinker may need slightly more hydration, after a few months of drinking 2 cups of coffee a day, his body will not need to replenish the fluids once lost to caffeine.
Of course water is one of the best beverages you can have, since it is free of added sugars, artificial sweeteners, and calories.
However, milk (dairy or soy) offers calcium, protein, and vitamin D, while tea and coffee offer some great antoxidants.
Simply put, drink when you feel thirsty and you’ll be just fine. This will most likely vary with context. You will drink more fluid if you are exercising, and will feel more thirsty in summer than winter.
If your thirst only requires 4 or 5 cups of liquid a day, so be it. Don’t force water down your throat because “you have to drink 8 glasses a day” (you don’t!). If any “expert” references the “8 glasses of water a day” figure as dogma, feel free to correct them.
As for that myth claiming that by the time we are thirsty we are actually dehydrated — absolutely not true. Thirst and dehydration happen under very different conditions in the body.
Older people need to be increasingly aware of staying hydrated, though, since humans’ thirst mechanism loses efficiency with age.
Here is a man with absolutely no knowledge of nutrition, making the most bizarre and unfounded claims and essentially lying to people. Over the next few weeks, I will dedicate the “Shame On You” segment to Mr. Trudeau and his outrageous claims so you can see for yourself why he is a joke – and an insult – to the field of nutrition.
Before we even delve into his book, though, I would like to share some information on this character.
The cover of The Natural Cures… boasts a round sticker in all capital letters reading, “As Seen on TV”. Yes, true enough. At 2 AM. On informercials HE produces and pays for.
Any other time he has been on television outside of his infomercials, it is to be unmasked as the fraud he is.
Trudeau’s court records don’t tell a very pleasant tale. In 1990, he deposited $80,000 in false checks. He accomplished this by fooling banks into thinking was a doctor when he hadn’t spent a single minute in medical school!
Trudeau has “hit back” by saying that precisely because he is not a doctor, he is the best person to dish out medical advice since he hasn’t been “brainwashed” to “write prescriptions.”
One could certainly make the argument that Western society suffers from “pill syndrome” (believing that medication should be taken the second one feels slightly off-kilter).
However, Trudeau has absolutely no academic background in — and does not understand — biochemistry, physiology, disease, or nutrition, and it clearly shows. His book not only makes ludicrous suggestions and arguments, but is backed up by basically no research.
By 1998, the Federal Trade Commission was hot on his trail and fined him half a million dollars for the false claims he was making in many of his informercials.
In 2003, Trudeau was once again sought after by the FTC, this time for making claims that a supplement he was hawking – Coral Calcium Supreme – could cure all sorts of cancers. At the time, Trudeau was making the preposterous, misleading, and downright dangerous claim that diseases like heart disease and diabetes were a direct cause of low calcium intake, and that taking his supplement was the cure everyone needed!
Trudeau hasn’t just been duping television audiences in the United States. The Brits were “lucky enough” to see his infomercial for “Perfect Lift”, a non-surgical procedure which promised to bring back years of youth to a person’s face.
Not surprisingly, the British FTC equivalent quickly took him off the air for telling complete lies.
I will analyze this New York Times bestseller (I think my blood pressure shot up 200 points as I typed that) in detail in forthcoming posts, but allow me to formally introduce you to it.
Acording to Trudeau, pretty much every disease known to mankind is due to nutritional deficiencies, toxins, preservatives, artificial sweeteners, and chemicals in our food. It is these things, he says, that render our immune systems weak and vulnerable to disease.
He claims that by changing the way we eat, we can prevent disease.
Fair enough, I also believe that our dietary lifestyles play a role in our health, along with other factors such as environment and genetics. However, Trudeau’s idea of health and nutrition is as real as an episode of “24”.
Much of his misleading information starts on the cover of his book. “Includes the natural cures for over 50 specific diseases!” it screams. Except that to see this information, you must go to his website and pay a monthly fee. Nowhere in the book does he say what these supposed cures he knows about are (but he does tell you that stress isn’t good for your health. Groundbreaking!)
There is MUCH more to come. You will not want to miss this.
“Shame On You” is a new feature of Small Bites, revealing the truth behind some well-known figures in the field of nutrition (many of whom, interestingly enough, don’t have any nutrition credentials).
Later tonight I will post Part 1 of what will be a very lengthy “Shame On You” on Kevin Trudeau, author of The Weight Loss Cure “They” Don’t Want You To Know About.
Scarily, despite tackling nutrition in a grossly inaccurate, and often ridiculous, way, Trudeau’s book is a #1 New York Times bestseller.
Over the next few weeks, I will take you through a detailed analysis of key parts of the book to prevent you from being duped and lied to by a man whose record speaks for itself.