Interesting items from my email inbox ….
How to ruin chocolate
Since replacing fat in our diets with various forms of sugar has been such a smashing success, why not extend the practice to chocolate?
Scientists have managed to halve the fat content of chocolate by replacing cocoa butter and milk fats with fruit juice.
Although the process, which uses tiny droplets of orange, cranberry or apple juice, gives the bars a slightly fruity taste, it can be applied to milk, dark and white chocolate.
Tests are ongoing, but if the ‘mild’ fruit taste of the chocolate proves too strong and cannot be lessened, researchers believe the same result could theoretically be achieved with a mixture of water and vitamin C.
The potentially ground breaking technique was developed by scientists at the University of Warwick and unveiled by lead researcher Dr Stefan Bon at a national meeting of the American Chemical Society in New Orleans.
Dr Bon said: “We have established the chemistry that’s a starting point for healthier chocolate confectionary… This approach maintains the things that make chocolate ‘chocolatey’, but with fruit juice instead of fat.”
Just what the world needs: a repeat of the Snackwell’s phenomenon. You remember Snackwell’s, don’t you? Cookies and cakes and dessert bars that were good for us because they were low-fat! That was back in the 1990s, and all that fear of fat sure made everyone thinner and healthier, didn’t it?
I can’t help but wonder what kind of scientist ends up toiling in a lab to replace fat with fruit juice. I’m guessing not a scientist whose other option was working in particle physics. I also can’t help but wonder what kind of journalist considers removing fat and adding fruit juice to be a ground breaking technique. Seems to me a moderately talented tinkerer could accomplish that feat in his basement.
It’s all about selling pharmaceuticals
As if we didn’t already know, Medical News Today recently pointed out what’s wrong with diabetes research:
An analysis of diabetes trials worldwide has found they are not addressing key issues relating to the condition with almost two thirds focusing on drug therapy while only one in ten addresses prevention or behavioural therapies. The research is published in Diabetologia, the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD), and is by Dr Jennifer Green, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, USA, and colleagues.
The researchers found 2,484 interventional trials by selecting those with disease condition terms relevant to diabetes. Of these, 75% had a primarily therapeutic purpose while just 10% were preventive. Listed interventions were mostly drugs (63%) while few were behavioural (12%).
So very few diabetes trials involve diets. And of course, when researchers do attempt to control diabetes with diet, they usually prescribe the high-carb, low-fat diet promoted by the American Diabetes Association, which is pretty much bound to fail anyway.
I don’t want to sound paranoid, but is it possible they choose that diet so they can declare that diets are ineffective for controlling diabetes?
Another a-salt on salt
Here we go again … another study (a meta-analysis in this case) claiming that drastically reducing salt would save lives:
A reduction in dietary salt intake by 50 percent could prevent approximately 100,000 deaths from heart attack and stroke in the United States every year, according to new studies published in the April 4 issues of British Medical Journal online.
And researchers suggest that the responsibility for reducing salt in foods lies primarily with the food industry.
“Eighty percent of the salt that we eat is added by the food industry,” study author Graham MacGregor, a professor of cardiovascular medicine at the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine in London, told FoxNews.com.
In MacGregor’s study, researchers analyzed data on 3,000 adults who decreased their salt intake over the course of about four weeks.
Results indicated that study participants saw an average decrease in systolic blood pressure of 5 mmHg. Similar results were found in a second analysis of 56 studies, also published in the April 4 issue of BMJ. Achieving this type of blood pressure decrease across the entire population could have major health benefits, according to MacGregor.
I’d say according to MacGregor is the correct choice of words – because that statement certainly isn’t true according to the science.
First off, notice that restricting salt reduced systolic blood pressure by a whopping five points – yipeekyai. Since hypertension is defined as blood pressure that’s 20 points above normal, I don’t think five points is going to make much of a difference.
Secondly, the research on salt, hypertension and cardiovascular disease is inconclusive at best. Here’s a quote from an article Gary Taubes wrote some years ago titled The (Political) Science of Salt:
University of Copenhagen researchers analyzed 114 randomized trials of sodium reduction, concluding that the benefit for hypertensives was significantly smaller than could be achieved by antihypertensive drugs, and that a “measurable” benefit in individuals with normal blood pressure (normotensives) of even a single millimeter of mercury could only be achieved with an “extreme” reduction in salt intake.
After decades of intensive research, the apparent benefits of avoiding salt have only diminished. This suggests either that the true benefit has now been revealed and is indeed small, or that it is nonexistent, and researchers believing they have detected such benefits have been deluded by the confounding influences of other variables.
Finally, if you really want to lower your blood pressure, trying cutting way back on refined carbohydrates — especially fructose.
Why I don’t trust nutrition committees
I guess it’s not just the USDA that’s essentially a division of Monsanto. Private organizations are being co-opted as well:
The politics of genetically modified food has created a rift in a policy-setting committee of the influential Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that demonstrates the difficulty in finding anyone — anywhere — who doesn’t already have an opinion on the issue.
A dietitian working on a panel charged with setting policy on genetically modified foods for the academy contends she was removed for pointing out that two of its members had ties to Monsanto, one of the biggest makers of genetically modified seeds.
“Perhaps it is possible for someone who works for an organization that creates or promotes G.M.O.’s to be objective, however, that would be hard to do,” Carole Bartolotto, a registered dietitian in California, wrote in a Feb. 6 e-mail to an academy executive.
In February, Ms. Bartolotto sent an e-mail to Kari Kren, a manager of research and business development at the academy, asking about the academy’s conflict of interest policy and raising questions about two other members of the group, Marianne Smith Edge and Jennie Schmidt.
Ms. Schmidt, a dietitian who operates a farm in Maryland, won a $5,000 prize from Monsanto and is a test farmer for the company.
Ms. Smith Edge, chairwoman of the committee, is a senior vice president at the International Food Information Council, which is largely financed by food, beverage and agriculture businesses, including companies like DuPont, Bayer CropScience and Cargill, companies that were among the biggest financial opponents of the California labeling initiative.
Later, she questioned the academy’s decision to hire Christine M. Bruhn, a professor at the University of California, Davis, to write its position paper on genetically engineered foods.
Professor Bruhn, who works for the university’s agriculture extension service, was an opponent of the California labeling measure. Additionally, the university has scholarships and other programs financed by Monsanto.
I wasn’t familiar with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics – or so I thought. Turns out that’s the new name for what used to called the American Dietetic Association. Their web site describes the organization as the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. So doesn’t it give you confidence in their objectivity to learn that Monsanto has members of the board in its (very deep) pocket?
As if Monsanto’s influence weren’t reason enough to ignore anything this organization says, take a look at this paragraph:
But what really concerned Ms. Bartolotto was the academy’s decision that Professor Bruhn would write the paper before the work group finished its review of the scientific materials.
Forming an opinion before reviewing the science? I predict some of these people will end up on the next USDA Dietary Guidelines Committee.
Fat gets the blame again
Yahoo published an article about a teenager who lives on ramen noodles and has lousy health as a result. Here are some quotes:
Ramen-style noodles, a staple in the pantry of broke college students, has been the mainstay of one teenager’s diet for the past 13 years, according to an article in the New York Daily News.
Georgi Readman, 18, of the Isle of Wight, U.K., refuses to eat fruit and vegetables and exists solely on packaged noodle soup, a snack that often contains high amounts of fat, saturated fat, and sodium. One package typically boasts 400 calories and 20 grams of fat.
Readman, who is 5’3” and 98 pounds, told the Daily News that she became hooked on the noodles when she was five-years-old and her mother still buys her packages by the dozens. She estimates eating 30 miles of noodles per year and the thought of eating anything else makes her sick.
Readman could not be reached for comment but according to her doctors, she is malnourished and has the health of an 80 year old.
(Note to Yahoo’s online editor: Those sentences should read ” … when she was five years old …” and “… has the health of an 80-year-old.” Please reivew the proper use of hyphens.)
So we’ve got a young lady who lives on noodles and is malnourished, and the reporter believes the problem is the SATURATED FAT?!! Newsflash: people don’t become malnourished by eating saturated fat. They become malnourished by not eating enough quality fat, protein, vitamins and minerals. According to what I can find online, that 400-calorie serving of noodles that the reporter believes is chock-full of saturated fat would contain about 9 grams of the stuff, but 45 grams of carbohydrates – probably consisting mostly of mutant wheat created by Monsanto.
I’m starting to think when reporters are assigned to the health beat, they’re given a coffee cup with the words ALWAYS BLAME SATURATED FAT emblazoned on the side. Or perhaps the interview process goes something like this:
“I see you’ve spent most of your career reporting on school-board meetings. Do you actually know anything about health or nutrition?”
“No, I’m afraid not.”
“You can start on Monday.”
And finally, just for fun …
My nephew Eric (The Oldest Brother’s Oldest Son) sent me this email today:
One of my favorite shows is “Parks and Recs.” It is about a park department where one of the heads is ironically a meat eating, hard core Libertarian name Ron Swanson. I’m sure most of your Fat Head followers, especially in my age range, are quite familiar. When someone asked about our views/beliefs, my friend Paul interrupted and simply said to them, “To sum up Eric and his dad: Ron Swanson.” I was sent this link with a few of his greatest quotes.
After reading the quotes, I think I’ll have to start watching that show. Ron Swanson seems like my kind of guy.