Food Is Not Your Enemy

The 5 Worst Foods to Eat

There are a lot of mixed messages out there about which foods we should eat, and which foods we should avoid. Depending on whether you’re following the Paleo diet or the macrobiotic diet, the Bulletproof diet or a vegan diet, bananas, avocados, whole grains, and red meat are either the healthiest foods ever, or the worst foods in the world. There’s a book or a study to back up virtually any claim about nutrition.

But there are at least a handful of foods that any nutrition researcher (unless they’re on Coca-Cola’s payroll) would agree are just flat-out bad for our health. And the losers are …

Soda and other sweetened beverages. Empty calories. Higher risk of diabetes. Increased sugar cravings. Obesity. Need I go on? There is nothing redeeming about soda, sweetened teas, fruit drinks, or Vitamin Water. These drinks have a lot of calories, a ton of sugar, and are one of the main drivers of our nation’s obesity epidemic.

Bagels. One bagel equals about five servings of bread. They are essentially white flour bombs, high in calories and low in nutritive value. Inflammation, a powerful force behind so many chronic illnesses, including diabetes and heart disease, is largely caused by the consumption of added sugars and white flour.

Cured meats. Hot dogs, salami, bologna, bacon, and other cured meats significantly raise our risk of colon cancer. And in a study, men who ate processed meats five times a week were found to be nearly twice as likely to develop diabetes as men who ate them just twice a month.

Anything deep-fried. All fats and oils have about 120 calories per tablespoon. That’s nothing to worry about if you’re sautéing some vegetables in olive oil, or drizzling some oil on your salad. But foods that are battered and then tossed into a deep fryer soak up a TON of oil, and end up loaded with hundreds if not thousands of calories. The high amount of omega-6 fats in the types of oils used for deep frying also contribute to inflammation in the body.

Donuts. A triple whammy of white flour, sugar, and deep frying leads to a deeply unhealthy food. The worst breakfast you could possibly choose.

Little Changes–Like a Lunchtime Soda–Lead to Weight Gain
June 23, 2011, 5:38 pm
Filed under: Fruits, Grains, Healthy Lifestyle, nuts, Vegetables, weight loss | Tags: , , , ,

The difference between an overweight person and a lean person may be nothing more than a bag of potato chips a day.

Or a soda a lunch. Or a a little too much TV.

A new study has found that gradual weight gain over many years tends to happen to those who eat more chips, drink more soda, watch more TV, and get either too much or too little sleep. Those who eat more fruits, veggies, nuts, and whole grains are more likely to stay at a healthy weight. Read the full article here.

Are You Ready for Pricier Soda?
January 26, 2010, 10:18 am
Filed under: Chronic Disease, food politics, Sweets, weight loss | Tags: , ,

On Friday, State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines testified before a State Senate hearing that a tax on sugary drinks would cut New Yorkers’ consumption of these beverages by 15 percent.

The tax, with a proposed implementation date of September 1, 2010, would increase the price of non-diet soda, sweetened water, sports drinks, energy drinks, sweetened bottled tea or coffee, and juice drinks by about 17 percent. The $1 billion raised over one year would go toward funding health programs that would otherwise be slashed given New York’s dire financial situation.

While there are many causes of obesity, the skyrocketing consumption of sweetened beverages is of major concern to scientists and health professionals. Once sold in 6.5-ounce bottles, today many sodas are marketed in 20-ounce and even larger single-serving containers. Soft drinks are now the single biggest source of calories in the average American’s diet.

An estimated $7.6 billion is spent every year in New York treating health problems related to obesity, much of it paid by taxpayers. That cost is expected to quadruple in the next eight years.

“The obesity crisis in New York State is one of our greatest public health challenges, resulting in extensive ill health and high health care costs,” Daines said at the hearing. “Governor Paterson is advancing a strong Obesity Prevention Agenda based on a combination of education, price incentives, and health policy to help stop and reverse the obesity epidemic.”

Mayor Mike Doesn’t Always Live By His Own Health Rules

The New York Times ran a piece detailing how New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, pusher of smoking bans, banner of trans-fats, and advocate of calorie information in fast-food joints, himself has a bit of a heavy hand with the salt shaker. He drinks too much coffee. He eats too much sometimes. And did I mention the salt, that substance he’s pushing New Yorkers to consume less of?

Some would charge all this makes Mayor Bloomberg a hypocrite. Me? I’m more forgiving. I understand how hard it can be to eat the right things, and that there’s always a time and place for fried chicken and biscuits. Because Bloomberg eats less than optimally sometimes doesn’t mean that trans-fats are okay. Trans-fats do not make fries or doughnuts taste better, they are simply cheaper and more convenient for the restaurants to use. But that cost savings is dangerous to our health–it has been proven that these lab-concocted fats lead to heart disease. And calorie counts? It’s good for people to know that the meal they are about to order has a full day’s supply of calories. Some people may not change their order because of it, but some will. And the restaurants, fearing sales could slip when people realize how calorie-packed some of their offerings are, will hopefully make changes, both to how they prepare their food and what their menus contain. Is it really necessary for chain restaurants to deep-fry their chicken at a central plant once before it is distributed to each restaurant location, and then again at the restaurant before it’s sent out to the patrons? This is a routine practice, according to David Kessler’s important new book “The End of Overeating,” and a big reason why 1600 calories for a chicken entrée is not unusual at places like the Cheesecake Factory.

So yes, I’m all for Bloomberg’s health initiatives. And if he salts his Saltines, or packs on a few pounds, I’m not going to be the one to point a finger.

Popular Kids’ Drinks: Safe or Scary?

Ah, the soft drink aisle. Shelves and shelves stacked with bubbly and brightly colored liquids, all seemingly engineered to attract children. Milk? Forget it. Water? How can that compete with a sweet and slippery orange drink that promises a taste explosion in your mouth, especially when cool athletes drink it, too? But are all these drinks so bad? Read my latest column on AOL’s ParentDish to find out.

Are Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi Poison?

I’ve been hearing for quite a while now about the evils of artificial sweeteners like aspartame. But this article by Dr. Gary G. Kohls is particularly enlightening, and takes a look at the role that none other than Donald Rumsfeld played in getting aspartame approved during the Reagan administration. 

Among the health problems that aspartame can cause are seizures, multiple sclerosis, headaches, lupus, insomnia, fibromyalgia, arthritis, depression, and anxiety. Given that recent studies have shown that artificial sweeteners tend to increase your appetite as well as your desire for sweets, think about whether your diet soda is really doing you any good.