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Showing posts from July, 2013

THE PRICE OF PROTEIN

Take a stroll around your local supermarket and you will notice something rather interesting. The price of meat is around the same as the price of produce. In some cases, produce costs more! Eggs are $1.80 a dozen, while you can't buy a small box of berries for under $1.99. Chicken breast at $1 per pound for the price of apples?

How can this be?

Surely it is less costly and time consuming to pick a green out of the ground or a sweet off the tree than it is to raise an animal for slaughter then kill it, skin it, gut it, and chop it up. The latter is a multi-step process that involves hordes of (underpaid) workers in multiple locations, not to mention the hardship on the animal who is forced to be confined to a small space its entire life then be shipped over long distances to be shot in the head and sliced in half. How can the flimsy price of animal protein reflect all the food it takes to feed the beasts, who consume pounds of corn and soy per day during their regrettably brief and…

SITTING KILLS

Sitting is the new smoking. That's the gist of an article in this month's Runner's World magazine. All the hours spent parked on one's rear - whether it be on the computer, in the car, on the couch, or at the table - are implicated in an array of diseases, from heart disease and stroke to diabetes, cancer, depression, even early death. And get this: the risks associated with sitting are the same for everyone, regardless of activity level.

And so we ask you, how many hours a week do you spend on your behind? You're likely sitting as you read this, but how much time do you estimate you spend planted on your ass in a given week?

If you are like the average American, you sit an average of 64 hours per week, or 9 hours a day. And this does not include the 7 or 8 hours of nightly sleep (which puts the total at closer to 20 hours per day). And active people (regular exercisers who log the recommended 2.5 hours of weekly exercise) are just as sedentary. In fact, fitness b…

GLUTEN OR GMO: THAT'S THE REAL QUESTION

Gluten-free is one of the more recent buzzwords going around the health community and food industry. Gluten is a protein found in certain grains, among them wheat, barley, and rye, and it appears by pseudonyms in a variety of packaged, processed foods. In fact, gluten is pretty ubiquitous and can be found in your favorite items listed as modified starch, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, emulsifiers, caramel color, mixed tocopherols, the nonspecific "flavoring," non-dairy creamer, stabilizers, vegetable gum, and many others. What's all the fuss? Yes, gluten intolerance, or celiac disease, which is characterized by the body's inability to digest this protein, can cause diarrhea, weight loss, and malnutrition. Celiac disease involves damage to the portion of the digestive tract known as the small intestine, and it can set up sufferers for cancer down the road.

But celiac disease is relativelyrare. Only about 1 in 135 Americans have this condition, and yet take a spin aroun…

THE TWO PERCENT

The term "One Percent," in its most common definition, refers to the wealthiest Americans. Individuals who control nearly 50 percent of total financial wealth. The term is considered derogatory by most people, which is understandable: ninety-nine people in a hundred are excluded from this elite group. Issues of wealth stratification, social class, the questionable merit of most jobs and the inanity of the monetary system aside, we'd like to briefly discuss another exclusive group, one not based on the size of your bank account but on the scope of your awareness, one you can easily be a part of. Who knows, perhaps you already are.

An article featured in Bloomberg BusinessWeek magazine discussed the new trend among CEOs, many of whom have tossed the bacon, eggs, steak, chicken breast, milk, ice cream, and all else animal, and replaced these foods with plant-based fare. And the list is long. Las Vegas mogul Steve Wynn, real estate tycoon Mort Zuckerman, business magnate Rus…

AVOCADOS

We've all heard the term "healthy fats," which is used to describe overt lipids whose benefits outweigh the risks associated with their consumption. Saturated fats, found in animal products and in some plant foods (coconut, cocao) don't need to be eaten since your body can produce them from other fats. The same goes for cholesterol, which your liver makes in quantities sufficient to fulfill all the needs of metabolism. Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats provide health benefits and would seem to deserve the term "healthy fats," but because research has shown an association between high fat diets and Alzheimer's disease, too much of any fat may make the term "healthy fat" a contradiction.

Besides, even within the mono- and poly-unsaturated fats, which consist mainly of vegetable foods, major differences in their nutritional profiles exist and not all of these foods should be accorded equal preference in the diet.

Take olive oil. A s…

FIGS

It's summertime, and the warm weather brings the opportunity to enjoy exotic fruits not otherwise available. Like the fig. Fat-free, sodium-free, cholesterol-free. Figs can be part of any diet, including diabetic diets, and their high fiber content makes them ideal for weight loss and maintenance. Their unique satiny texture and seeds provides a satisfying feel and crunch. They are among the oldest fruits consumed, and historically have been viewed as aphrodisiacal due to their resemblance to the testicle.

One serving of figs is 40 grams, or about 1/4 cup. This is about 3 Calimyrna figs (green) or 4-5 Mission figs (black). Per serving figs provide about 30 grams of carbohydrates in the form of glucose and fructose, along with 5 grams of fiber - more dietary fiber per serving than most other common fresh fruits. Their mineral content is highest among most common fruits - with potassium, calcium, and iron featured prominently. Enjoy a meal of figs by eating all 12-24 that come in a…

IDEAL WEIGHT

Weight is a touchy subject, just like food preference and taste in men (or women). But this does not mean a discussion should be avoided, and because your body weight, not to mention your body fat percentage, is such a strong predictor of your health and longevity, it's a good idea to know how much you should tip the scale. What's your ideal? The Metropolitan Life Insurance company came out with a table (most recently in 1999) indicating weights (for various heights and body frames and specific for each gender) at which mortality was lowest. It would seem from this table that one's ideal body mass index is around 23. Met Life never used the word "ideal" but living a long life, in other words not dying prematurely from heart attack, cancer, stroke, and other major killers, would seem like a good thing, we dare say an ideal thing, for most. (You can calculate your own BMI here.)

Now there have been research studies like this one published in JAMA whose conclusion h…