Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It’s been two weeks since my last confession. During that time, I engaged in … no, wait. Sorry. Flashback from my Catholic school days.
Bless me, readers, for I have sinned. It’s been 11 days since my last post. During that time, I was swamped with a brain-draining work project that I finally finished on Friday. Then just when I expected to have a chill-time weekend, I received an email from our accountant reminding me that the firm’s deadline for submitting my tax paperwork is Tuesday.
Ugh. That’s a ton of paperwork. I’m an employee at my programming job, but Chareva and I are also both employees of the s-corp that I started back in my contract-programmer days, but which now mostly deals with the Fat Head business. So I had to pull together all those income and expense reports, along with payrolls, W2s, W3s, employer tax-payment documents, mortgage documents, health insurance documents, out-of-pocket medical expenses (which are considerable this year, thanks to the shoulder and bicep surgery), etc., etc. There went a nice chunk of the weekend.
But hey, it’s all for the benefit of a federal government that’s managed to rack up $20 trillion in current debt and another $75 trillion or so in unfunded liabilities while producing those awesome dietary guidelines, so what’s not to like? I’d say it’s worth forking over our money just for that brilliant Daylight Saving Time gift they give us for eight months of the year. We’ve already saved up so much extra daylight, we’re thinking we might wait until 2:00 a.m. on April 1st and then spring an hour of daylight on the whole neighborhood as a gag.
Anyway, here are some interesting items from my inbox and elsewhere that piled up while I was busy …
Yet another (ahem) “paradox”
The French Paradox, the Spanish Paradox, the Israeli Paradox … boy, those paradoxical exceptions to the Lipid Hypothesis just seem to pop up everywhere. Here’s another one, as described in MD Mag online:
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) patients tend to have lower total cholesterol levels and a higher risk for heart disease.
So do Russians. Average cholesterol well below 200, but one of the highest heart-attack rates in the world. Perhaps they all have rheumatoid arthritis. If only someone could come up with a way to explain away these embarrassments.
Known as the Lipid Paradox, the conundrum may be closer to a solution thanks to the work of North Carolina researchers. Their recent study suggested that a lack of physical exercise is the explanation for this contradiction to common wisdom about fat and the risks for heart disease.
Thank goodness someone is on the verge of solving the conundrum. The only other option was to accept that cholesterol doesn’t cause heart disease.
“We identified intriguing associations for basal or minimal physical activity and exercise time with lipoprotein parameters suggestive that a large part of the RA lipid profile is mediated by a lack of physical of activity,” Kim M. Huffman MD, PhD and her colleagues wrote.
So it turns out people whose joints hurt like hell don’t exercise as much. And that’s why they have more heart attacks, despite having lower cholesterol. Got it. Paradox solved.
Here’s another possibility: maybe heart disease has more to do with inflammation than with high cholesterol. I’m pretty sure rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory condition.
Coconut-oil sales are dropping
An MSN article declares that sales of coconut oil are dropping and gives credit to our old pals at the American Heart Association:
We’re not shocked to be reporting that coconut oil-once known as a healthier-for-you Paleo alternative-is now no longer en vogue with home cooks. We’ve previously covered how coconut oil’s high levels of saturated fat can negatively affect your cholesterol level, and how the American Heart Association recommends opting instead for other heart-healthy oils.
Despite widespread claims that coconut oil can boost immunity and help dieters lose weight, industry sales fell flat in 2017, according to data from market research firm SPINS, reports Food Navigator.
When the American Heart Association published new reports that coconut oil had too much saturated fat, sales began to slow down. By the end of 2017, retailers sold $52 million less in the coconut oil category-a whopping 24.3 percent drop from 2016, the Post reports.
I see. So this is all happening because people wised up and listened to Dr. Frank Sucks and others when they declared in the American Heart Association’s presidential advisory report that they were right all along about the dangers of saturated fat.
That struck me as an odd explanation, since more and more people are rejecting the arterycloggingsaturatedfat! theory and buying full-fat foods. So I took a peek at the Food Navigator report mentioned in the MSN article. Here’s what I read:
Another consideration is, since animal protein and animal fats are now more likely to carry label-based attributes with natural product industry appeal [for example on-trend brands such as EPIC Provisions now sell beef tallow, pork lard and duck fat], we are finding consumers picking up a jar of ghee [clarified butter commonly used in South Asian and Middle Eastern cuisines] instead of coconut oil.
Sales of coconut oil have dropped because consumers are buying more beef tallow, lard, duck fat and ghee — also known as saturated animal fats. I’m pretty sure that means they’re not listening to Dr. Frank Sucks and the American Heart Association.
Why people hate vegans, part … I dunno, whatever
Over the years, we’ve read about the vegan who demanded her roommate stop eating animal products or move. And the vegan who gave away her cat because she couldn’t bring herself to feed meat to a carnivore. And the vegan who trashed the meat section in a grocery store. And the vegan activist in Switzerland who’s so annoying, her neighbors want to deny her citizenship.
Here’s the latest attempt by the wacky wing of the vegan movement to make themselves popular, as reported on Pedestrian TV online:
A group of 35 animal rights protesters staged a protest at a popular Melbourne steakhouse on Saturday night, chanting through megaphones and waving graphic signs.
The vegan activists, who identified themselves as members of Direct Action Everywhere Melbourne and the curiously-named Melbourne Cow Save Animal Liberation Army burst into Rare Steakhouse on King St in the Melb CBD at about 6:30pm.
Manager Arryanne McIntosh told News.com.au: “It was hard to communicate with them. I asked who was in charge and one lady said, ‘We all are.’ We were trying to talk to them but they were quite in-your-face with talking and speaking over the top of you – they were very loud, yelling.”
Yeah, that’ll draw more regular folks to the movement. At least one vegan who commented on the incident had some common sense:
“This is not cool. Best way for non-vegans to think ill of vegans. People are spending money, buying a meal, uniting with family, celebrating their life’s joys, on dates. You have successfully ruined these moments for them, they will never want to hear from a vegan again.”
I’m very, very white
Okay, you probably suspected as much already. Based on what I know about my grandparents and great-grandparents, I’ve always told people I’m roughly three-quarters Irish and a quarter German, with some fraction unaccounted for. The unaccounted fraction was because of a great-grandfather who refused to answer questions about his ethnicity. He just told us he was from Kentucky and let it go at that. Given great-grandpa’s prominent cheekbones and nose, my dad wondered if the old boy had some Cherokee blood and preferred not to admit it. (This was before you could pretend you were part Cherokee to get on the fast-track to Harvard Law School and a possible Senate seat.)
Nope, no Cherokee heritage for me. Chareva’s mom gave us all 23andMe kits for Christmas, and I got my results back a couple of days ago. The one mild surprise is that I’m 0.4% West African. The report says that means I probably had one West African ancestor who was born between 1720 and 1810. I’m also 2.3% Scandinavian. (No, I won’t be adding lutefisk to my diet.) The rest is pretty much what I suspected. I’m 74.5% British/Irish, 10.4% German/French, with the remaining 12 and a fraction percent labeled simply as “Broadly Northwest European.”
Oh well. Guess I’ll pour a Guinness on St. Patty’s Day and forget about a run for the Senate.
The Save The Grains Campaign comes to New Zealand
Ever since books like Wheat Belly and Grain Brain convinced a chunk of the population to ditch grains, we’ve seen quite a few articles that I collectively refer to as The Save The Grains Campaign. Here’s the latest and greatest, from NewsHub online in New Zealand:
The country’s fibre deficiency is costing the country more than half-a-billion dollars every year.
A report has found $600 million spent on healthcare costs and lost productivity could be saved if adults ate another two servings of grains a day.
More than $200 million could be saved in healthcare costs, and economic activity would be boosted by $403 million, the report claims.
Increasing grain intake reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases, and type 2 diabetes.
I saved the punchline for last:
The report was compiled by an economist, and commissioned by breakfast food company Kellogg’s.
So I’m sure it’s an unbiased analysis.
A bit of sanity on calorie-count laws
I’m pretty sure CNN doesn’t like it, but they did report on it:
The way restaurants and other food establishments in the United States label calorie counts on their menus could look different starting this spring, and while some politicians and industry groups are applauding this potential change, some public health experts are raising concerns.
Currently, under the Affordable Care Act, food establishments have until May 7 to comply with requirements to add calorie information labels to the food items they serve and offer, according to the US Food and Drug Administration.
On Tuesday, the House passed legislation that would amend exactly how those restaurants and retail food businesses are to provide the calorie count information to their customers.
Instead of listing the total calories contained in a menu item when it is offered for sale, such as a shared appetizer, businesses would be allowed to provide just the calories per serving in that “multiserving” menu item, without disclosing total calories.
The legislation would also allow certain businesses, such as carry-out restaurants whose majority of customers order meals off-premises, to post such information on the internet as the sole method of disclosure instead of on the premises of the business.
These calorie-count menu laws don’t do diddly. Studies have demonstrated that people confronted with calories on restaurant menus don’t eat less. Even The Guy From CSPI had to admit that after one of the studies was published. He made some excuse about poor people not being “amenable” to calorie counts.
So of course, CSPI still wants us to be confronted with calorie counts on menus:
Consumers want to make informed choices about what they eat, and the bill that passed the House could make that harder for them, said Colin Schwartz, deputy director of legislative affairs at the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
“So that’s the importance of menu labeling, and we see from the research that actually, when consumers are given this information, they actually can make lower-calorie choices, and restaurants can also come out with lower-calorie options,” Schwartz said.
Wow, talk about a clever use of weasel words. If consumers are given this information, they actually can make lower-calories choices. Notice he didn’t say they do make lower-calorie choices. Because they don’t. He knows that. People don’t go to restaurants to count calories. They go to order meals they enjoy.
If sanity prevails, perhaps someday you’ll finally be able to just order and enjoy your meal without having the calorie count shoved in your face if you don’t want to know. If you really do want to know, you can go online.
And who knows, if this whole sanity thing catches on in Washington, maybe we’ll skip Daylight Saving Time next year.