Archive for February, 2010

The Truth About Your Weight Gain

posted by Dr. James G. Hood
Sunday, February 28, 2010

By David Zinczenko for Men’s Health
Source: Yahoo

Two out of three people in America today are either overweight or obese. That means every time you sit down in an airplane or a packed movie theater, more likely than not you’re going to wind up as the lean center of a fat sandwich. But as you look right and left and see nothing but heft, you can’t help but think, What happened?

How did we all get so darn fat?

Well, the simple answer is that we eat more calories. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that American men eat 7 percent more calories than they did in 1971; American women eat a whopping 18 percent more—an additional 335 calories a day! But the harder question is this: Why do we eat so many more calories? Are we suddenly more gluttonous? Do we have some kind of collective death wish? Is the entire country hellbent on qualifying for the next season of Biggest Loser?

No. There’s an even crazier reason: It’s the food!

We’ve added extra calories to traditional foods, often in cheap, mass-produced vehicles like high fructose corn syrup. These new freak foods are designed not by chefs, but by lab technicians packing every morsel with maximum calories at minimum cost—with little or no regard to dietary impact. Indeed, Eat This, Not That! 2011 has uncovered the truth about some of your favorite fast food and grocery store items and how they’re causing you to pack on unnecessary pounds. It’s enough to kill your appetite, which—in these cases, anyway—would be a good thing.

Bonus Tip: Don’t miss our year-end walk down The Restaurant Hall of Shame: The 20 Worst Foods of 2010!

Burger Patties THE FAST-FOOD HAMBURGER
The great American staple. Don’t worry, burgers really do come from cows—but have you ever wondered how those giant chains process and distribute so much meat so cheaply? And . . . are you sure you want to know?

The Truth: Most fast-food hamburger patties begin their voyage to your buns in the hands of a company called Beef Products. The company specializes in taking slaughterhouse trimmings—heads and hooves and the like—that are traditionally used only in pet food and cooking oil, and turning them into patties. The challenge is getting this byproduct meat clean enough for human consumption, as both E. coli and salmonella like to concentrate themselves in the fatty deposits.

The company has developed a process for killing beef-based pathogens by forcing the ground meat through pipes and exposing it to ammonia gas—the same chemical you might use to clean your bathroom. Not only has the USDA approved the process, but it’s also allowed those who sell the beef to keep it hidden from their customers. At Beef Products’ behest, ammonia gas has been deemed a “processing agent” that need not be identified on nutrition labels. Never mind that if ammonia gets on your skin, it can cause severe burning, and if it gets in your eyes, it can blind you. Add to the gross-out factor the fact that after moving through this lengthy industrial process, a single beef patty can consist of cobbled-together pieces from different cows from all over the world—a practice that only increases the odds of contamination.

Eat This Instead: Losing weight starts in your own kitchen, by using the same ingredients real chefs have relied on since the dawn of the spatula. (Here are the 15 best dishes for quick and easy weight loss.) If you’re set on the challenge of eating fresh, single-source hamburger, pick out a nice hunk of sirloin from the meat case and have your butcher grind it up fresh. Hold the ammonia.

Bac-O BitsBETTY CROCKER’S BAC-O BITS
We’ve all been there before: A big bowl of lettuce or a steamy baked potato is set before us and the sudden desire for a bit of smoky, porky goodness pervades. We try to resist, but we grab for the bottle anyway: Mmmmm . . . bacon.

The Truth: Not quite. If it’s Bac-Os you grab for, just know that there’s not the slightest whiff of anything pork-like to be found in the bottle. So what are those little chips you’ve been shaking over your salads? Well, mostly soybeans. The bulk of each Bac-O is formed by tiny clumps of soy flour bound with trans-fatty, partially hydrogenated soybean oil and laced with artificial coloring, salt, and sugar. The result is a product that’s actually less healthy for your heart than the real thing!

Eat This Instead: Hormel makes a product called Real Bacon Bits, and as the name implies, it’s made with real bacon. And gram-for-gram, the real bacon actually has fewer calories than Betty Crocker’s Bac-Os. If Hormel can make a nutritionally superior product using real bacon, then why would you ever choose the artificial one that’s loaded with partially hydrogenated soybean oil?

Premade GuacamolePREMADE GUACAMOLE
When you buy bean dip, you expect it to be made from beans. And when you buy guacamole, it seems reasonable to expect it to be made from avocados. But is it?

The Truth: Most guacamoles with the word “dip” attached to the label suffer from a lack of real avocado. Take Dean’s Guacamole, for example. This guacamole dip is composed of less than 2 percent avocado; the rest of the green goo is a cluster of fillers and chemicals, including modified food starch, soybean oils, locust bean gum, and food coloring. Dean’s is not alone in this offense. In fact, this avocado caper was brought to light when a California woman filed a lawsuit against Kraft after she noticed “it just didn’t taste avocadoey.”

Eat This Instead: Avocados are loaded with fiber and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Trading the good stuff in for a bunch of fillers is cheating both your belly and your tastebuds. Either look for the real stuff (Wholly Guacamole makes a great guac), or mash up a bowl yourself. Scoop out the flesh of two avocados, combine with two cloves of minced garlic, a bit of minced onion, the juice of one lemon, chopped cilantro, one medium chopped tomato, and a pinch of salt.

Bonus Tip: Unlike packaged-food manufacturers, fast-food and sit-down restaurants don’t typically rely on chemicals to enhance flavor. Instead, they pack in sugar and sodium, calorie counts be damned. Beware of The 10 Worst Fast Food Meals in America!
YogurtFRUIT ON THE BOTTOM YOGURT
It seems like the ideal breakfast or snack for a man or woman on the go—a perfect combination of yogurt and antioxidant-packed fruits, pulled together in one convenient little cup. But are these low-calorie dairy aisle staples really so good for you?

The Truth: While the yogurt itself offers stomach-soothing live cultures and a decent serving of protein, the sugar content of these seemingly healthy products is sky-high. The fruit itself is swimming in thick syrup—so much of it, in fact, that high-fructose corn syrup (and other such sweeteners) often shows up on the ingredients list well before the fruit itself. And these low-quality refined carbohydrates are the last thing you want for breakfast—Australian researchers found that people whose diets were high in carbohydrates had lower metabolisms than those who ate proportionally more protein. Not to mention, spikes in your blood sugar can wreck your short-term memory, according to a study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Not what you need just before your urgent 9 a.m. meeting with the boss!

Eat This Instead: Plain Greek-style yogurt, mixed with real blueberries. We like Oikos and Fage brands—they’re jacked with about 15 to 22 grams of belly-filling protein, so they’ll help you feel satisfied for longer. And blueberries are another great morning add—scientists in New Zealand found that when they fed blueberries to mice, the rodents ate 9 percent less at their next meal.

Bonus Tip: Daily e-mails (or tweets) that contain weight-loss advice remind you of your goals and help you drop pounds, according to Canadian researchers. We’re partial to our own Eat This, Not That! newsletter, and to the instant weight-loss secrets you’ll get when you follow me on Twitter (twitter.com/davezinczenko).

Turkey BaconTURKEY BACON
Pork bacon’s got a bad rap for wreaking havoc on your cholesterol. But is turkey bacon really any better?

The Truth: Stick with the pig. As far as calories go, the difference between “healthy” turkey bacon and “fatty” pig is negligible—and depending on the slice, turkey might sometimes tip the scales a touch more. Additionally, while turkey is indeed a leaner meat, turkey bacon isn’t made from 100 percent bird: One look at the ingredients list will show a long line of suspicious additives and extras that can’t possibly add anything of nutritional value. And finally, the sodium content of the turkey bacon is actually higher than what you’ll find in the kind that oinks—so if you’re worried about your blood pressure, opting for the original version is usually the smarter move.

Eat This Instead: Regular bacon. We like Hormel Black Label and Oscar Mayer Center Cut bacon for some low-cal, low-additive options.

Low-fat Peanut ButterREDUCED-FAT PEANUT BUTTER
Nothing makes a PB&J feel less indulgent like a scoop of low-fat Jif. It’s low fat, so it must be better for you . . . right?

The Truth: A tub of reduced-fat peanut butter indeed comes with a fraction less fat than the full-fat variety—they’re not lying about that. But what the food companies don’t tell you is that peanut oil—the fat in peanut butter—is a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat that can actually help fight weight gain, heart disease and diabetes! Instead, they’ve tried to cash in on the “low-fat” craze by replacing that healthy fat with maltodextrin, a carbohydrate used as a filler in many processed foods. This means you’re trading the healthy fat from peanuts for empty carbs, double the sugar, and a savings of a meager 10 calories.

Eat This Instead: The real stuff: no oils, fillers, or added sugars. Just peanuts and salt. Smucker’s Natural fits the bill, as do many other peanut butters out there. We especially like Peanut Butter & Co. Original Smooth Operator and Original Crunch Time.

Bonus Tip: The average American drinks 450 calories a day—a quarter of the calories you’re supposed to consume during an entire day! Beware of The 20 Worst Drinks in America, 2010 Edition.

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6 cancer-fighting superfoods

posted by Dr. James G. Hood
Sunday, February 28, 2010

By Leslie Barrie for Health.com
Source: Yahoo


To reduce your risk of cancer, look no further than your fridge. “All the studies on cancer and nutrition point to eating plant-based foods for their phytonutrients and other special compounds,” says Richard Béliveau, PhD, chair in the prevention and treatment of cancer at the University of Québec at Montreal and author of Foods to Fight Cancer.

Aim for five to nine daily servings of all kinds of fruits and vegetables—especially these six superstars.

Broccoli

All cruciferous veggies (think cauliflower, cabbage, kale) contain cancer-fighting properties, but broccoli is the only one with a sizable amount of sulforaphane, a particularly potent compound that boosts the body’s protective enzymes and flushes out cancer-causing chemicals, says Jed Fahey, ScD. A recent University of Michigan study on mice found that sulforaphane also targets cancer stem cells—those that aid in tumor growth.

Helps fight: breast, liver, lung, prostate, skin, stomach, and bladder cancers

Your Rx: The more broccoli, the better, research suggests—so add it wherever you can, from salads to omelets to the top of your pizza.

Berries

All berries are packed with cancer-fighting phytonutrients. But black raspberries, in particular, contain very high concentrations of phytochemicals called anthocyanins, which slow down the growth of premalignant cells and keep new blood vessels from forming (and potentially feeding a cancerous tumor), according to Gary D. Stoner, PhD, a professor of internal medicine at The Ohio State University College of Medicine.

Helps fight: colon, esophageal, oral, and skin cancers

Your Rx: Stoner uses a concentrated berry powder in his studies but says a half-cup serving of berries a day may help your health, too.

Tomatoes

This juicy fruit is the best dietary source of lycopene, a carotenoid that gives tomatoes their red hue, Béliveau says. And that’s good news, because lycopene was found to stop endometrial cancer cell growth in a study in Nutrition and Cancer. Endometrial cancer causes nearly 8,000 deaths a year.

Helps fight: endometrial, lung, prostate, and stomach cancers

Your Rx: The biggest benefits come from cooked tomatoes (think pasta sauce!), since the heating process increases the amount of lycopene your body is able to absorb.

Walnuts

Their phytosterols (cholesterol-like molecules found in plants) have been shown to block estrogen receptors in breast cancer cells, possibly slowing the cells’ growth, says Elaine Hardman, PhD, associate professor at Marshall University School of Medicine in Huntington, West Virginia.

Helps fight: breast and prostate cancers

Your Rx: Munching on an ounce of walnuts a day may yield the best benefits, Hardman’s research found.

Garlic

Phytochemicals in garlic have been found to halt the formation of nitrosamines, carcinogens formed in the stomach (and in the intestines, in certain conditions) when you consume nitrates, a common food preservative, Béliveau says. In fact, the Iowa Women’s Health Study found that women with the highest amounts of garlic in their diets had a 50 percent lower risk of certain colon cancers than women who ate the least.

Helps fight: breast, colon, esophageal, and stomach cancers

Your Rx: Chop a clove of fresh, crushed garlic (crushing helps release beneficial enzymes), and sprinkle it into that lycopene-rich tomato sauce while it simmers.

Beans

A study out of Michigan State University found that black and navy beans significantly reduced colon cancer incidence in rats, in part because a diet rich in the legumes increased levels of the fatty acid butyrate, which in high concentrations has protective effects against cancer growth. Another study, in the journal Crop Science, found dried beans particularly effective in preventing breast cancer in rats.

Helps fight: breast and colon cancers

Your Rx: Add a serving—a half-cup—of legumes a few times a week (either from a can or dry beans that’ve been soaked and cooked) to your usual rotation of greens or other veggies.

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