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    Archive for September, 2010

    You Ask, I Answer: Pumpkins Full of Pesticides?

    3 pumpkinsI have heard that supermarket pumpkins are treated with a lot of insecticides and other chemicals that keep them aesthetically intact, and lengthen their shelf life.

    Is this true or BS?

    — Thomas Johnson
    Via Facebook

    As I often like to say, the truth is somewhere in the middle.

    Conventional pumpkins are certainly treated with pesticides and insecticides, but they do not make the “dirty dozen” list of produce that contains the highest amounts of these substances.

    By the way, the wonderful folks at Local Harvest have provided this nifty search tool to help you locate farms in your area that offer organic pumpkins!


    In The News: Nutrition Professor Eats Twinkies, Loses Weight.

    1283457996610Earlier this month, the media feasted on the following news bit:

    “Mark Haub, 40, associate professor in Kansas State University”s Department of Human Nutrition, began a 30-day junk food marathon on Aug. 25. He is living on a diet of high-calorie, high-fat foods, such as snack cakes, powdered doughnuts and sticky buns, to show that foods commonly regarded as junk can actually help people lose weight.”

    Continue Reading »


    Numbers Game: Answer

    sad-little-heart-wahh-wahhA gain of twenty pounds (of fat, not muscle) over one’s ideal body weight results, on average, in a 30 percent increase of triglycerides and an average decrease of HDL cholesterol of 8 percent.

    I always find statistics like these to be quite powerful since they illustrate the health consequences of carrying excess weight, regardless of the type of foods that led to said weight gain.

    Continue Reading »


    You Ask, I Answer: Protein Powder Terminology

    ion_exchange_protein_wpi_3kg_powder_shop_new_zealand_co_nz_smI was looking at different protein powders the other day, and saw a lot of terms that went over my head.  Can you help me out and at least tell me if I should even bother paying attention to some of these?

    Here are ones I wrote down:  “ion-exchanged”, “microfiltered”, “hydrolized”.

    Thank you.  Not only for answering this question, but for your blog.  I have learned a lot just by visiting your site!

    — Richard (last name withheld)
    San Jose, CA

    As if the cereal and bread aisles weren’t bad enough, protein powder shopping also involves sorting through a variety of fancy-sounding claims.  Let’s break them down:

    Continue Reading »


    Who Said It?

    QuestionMark-300x2991“Cranberry juice works on cellulite because … the flavonoids in the fruit improve the strength and integrity of connective tissue and help keep your lymphatic system working smoothly.”

    Leave your guess in the “comments” section and come back on Friday for the answer — and my particular issues with this statement!


    You Might As Well Call Them “Crop Subsidy Tarts”

    Pumpkin-Pie-Pop-TartsAutumn means two things — a dearth of “best & worst beach bodies” tabloid covers and the arrival of pumpkin-flavored items in stores.  Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts are not exempt from the latter, hence the latest addition to their product lineup — limited edition Frosted Pumpkin Pie pastries.

    Alas, the ingredient list reveals very little in the way of fall flavors and lots of the usual processed suspects.  Take a look at the entire ingredient list before we break it down:

    Continue Reading »


    You Ask, I Answer: Calcium Absorption, Kidney Stone Risk, and Gelatin-Free Vitamin D Supplements

    0904-calcium-supplements1. Is there research that indicates that calcium carbonate’s absorption is superior to that of calcium citrate?

    2. My doctor recently suggested that I supplement my diet with calcium and vitamin D. Is there a heightened risk of developing kidney stones associated with calcium supplementation?

    3. Most of the vitamin D supplements I’ve found contain gelatin as an ingredient. Do you know of any alternative products?

    — Josh Griffin
    (Location Unknown)

    Continue Reading »


    You Ask, I Answer: Protein Bar Guidelines

    zero impact barWhat things should I look for in a protein bar?  I use them when I’m on the go at times when I know I will need something, but don’t want to do fast food.

    — Tammy Edwards
    (Via Facebook)

    Wonderful questions.  When it comes to protein bars, I am “on the fence”.  Allow me to explain.

    On the one hand, I don’t think they are terrible and should be shunned.  Sure, there are some horrific protein bars out there (and, in a little bit, I will give you specific parameters to help you choose the better ones), but a smart choice can make for a great snack or meal replacement in a pinch.

    Continue Reading »


    Numbers Game: What Twenty Extra Pounds Really Mean

    use-scale-weigh-yourself-200X200A gain of twenty pounds (of fat, not muscle) over one’s ideal body weight results, on average, in a _____ percent increase of triglycerides and an average decrease of HDL cholesterol of _____ percent.

    a) 5/13
    b) 15/15
    c) 30/8
    d) 12/23

    Leave your guess in the “comments” section and come back on Tuesday for the answer.


    You Ask, I Answer: Calcium Carbonate in Vegan Beverages

    Tums UltraI’ve noticed that most soy/almond milk has calcium carbonate, which someone once told me was like drinking concrete?

    Is that true?  What is calcium carbonate, exactly?

    — Kerra Olsen
    (Via Facebook)

    Calcium carbonate– an ionic salt —  is a very abundant compound; it’s found almost everywhere in nature, from snail shells to our planet’s crust.  It’s also the main component in Tums!

    Yes, concrete (and chalk) are made from calcium carbonate, but that is not to say you are “eating concrete”.  After all, you can make paper mache paste from flour and water.  That does not mean, however, that a whole grain baguette is just a baked version of of it.

    Most calcium supplements (and calcium-fortified foods, such as non-dairy “milks”) are made from calcium carbonate because it is the least expensive source.  Research also shows that its absorption is the highest.

    Since calcium carbonate is best absorbed with meals, it only makes sense to use it to fortify foods.

    No reason to panic or fear.  Calcium carbonate is a perfectly safe way to get your calcium, provided you don’t have certain conditions (kidney stones being the biggest worry).


    Numbers Game: Answer

    cornAmericans consumed a total of 403 million pounds of corn oil in 1970.  By 2002, that figure reached 950 million pounds.

    FYI: Corn oil has an omega 6:omega 3 ratio of 46:1.  Yikes!

    Chances are, this figure continued to climb over the past eight years, especially as plant oils took over for trans fats in shelf-stable snacks.

    As much as the “limit saturated fats” message is constantly drilled into us, statistics show that over the past thirty years, saturated fat intake has remained steady, while omega-6 intake has skyrocketed.

    Might as well change this country’s name to The United States of Corn.  Our cars guzzle it, our cattle chow it down, and the average American’s diet is so heavily processed, corn is its own food group!


    Guest Post: A Look Back at the 2006 ‘Benzene in Soda’ Scare You May Have Missed

    Benzene_circleIn March of 2006, the United Kingdom’s Food Standards Agency ordered a recall of four brands of beverages after laboratory tests found excessive levels of benzene, a carcinogen. Attention-grabbing headlines, like that run by the Times of London on the front page of its home news section, announced the recall: “Soft drinks pulled from shelves over cancer fear. ” (1) A textbook example of an alert government regulator, policing the safety of its food system? Well, not exactly.

    Continue Reading »


    Guest Post: Are You Eating Dry Cleaning Fluid? Chances Are: Yes!

    Head ShotAs a graduate student of Public Health concentrating in Environmental Health, I find it extremely important to be aware of things in our environment that can potentially cause bodily harm and disease, in addition to finding ways to protect human health.

    I am also on the path to obtaining my Registered Dietitian credential, and have consequently discovered that our bodies can receive an arsenal of health promoting weaponry from the food we eat and the compounds found within them.  The combination of these two highly related disciplines has yielded two important conclusions:

    1. The health of our food supply is highly related to the health of our environment
    2. The food supply has become one of the biggest areas of concern regarding exposure to environmental pollutants.

    This has added many layers to a question I frequently ask myself: “what can I do to protect my health?”

    Continue Reading »


    Guest Post: Intense Workouts Need Fuel

    photoAndy’s “You Ask, I Answer” posts are some of my favorite Small Bites reads, so I’m thrilled the nutrition guru has turned the tables with questions of his own.  Because there is no substitute for Bellatti, I’ll file my first guest blog post as “Andy Asks, I Do My Best to Answer.”

    What’s the best thing to eat before a workout?

    That depends on another question- what are you doing? I recently spoke to Roberta Anding, sports dietitian for the NFL’s Houston Texans, and she says duration and intensity determine fuel needs. If you’re walking on the treadmill at 3 mph for 20 minutes, pre-workout fuel isn’t necessary.

    Continue Reading »


    Guest Post: The Top Ten Ways Anyone Can Be A Cook

    robyn_with_chef_garCooks can be made, they’re not necessarily born.  Sure, the innate ability to know your saute from your braise is completely natural for some people, but your chances of becoming a cook or being a better one is much greater than becoming a world class athlete or concert pianist ( believe me, I’ve tried such similar lofty attempts).

    In my over 25 years of teaching, I’ve seen those in need of cooking skills go from clueless to accomplished. They all do start out with one element: the desire to learn. And beyond that, I’ve culled a list of the advice I give to my cooking newbies.  Beyond these very practical tips my overall mantra is: if you fail, try, try again.  Even the most seasoned cooks make tons of mistakes; and I’ve got the garbage pails of experiments gone awry to prove it.

    But here now are my top tips to get you as polished as a brand new copper pot in the kitchen!

    Continue Reading »

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