Two sides of nutrition

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Man I get frustrated when I read articles like “Study surprise: Low-carb dieters eat more, lose weight.” It’s another in a series of recent “hey, low-carb diets actually help you lose weight!” studies. But take note of several things here:

  1. This is “a small but carefully controlled study.” How small? 21 people.
  2. The point of the study was that the dieters on a low-carb diet were given 300 more calories, yet they didn’t gain weight because of it. However, the only health-related mention (remember, health and weight don’t always map one-to-one) is that the low-carbers didn’t raise their cholesterol levels. But there’s a lot more that needs to be considered, particularly with the high levels of saturated fat that many high-fat diets involve.
  3. This one’s the most important. We all know that there has yet to be a worthwhile long-term study of the effects of a low-carb diet on the body. This skimpy study, somehow worthy of almost 800 words on CNN, ran for a mere twelve weeks.

As far as I’m concerned, this “study” is worthless.

On the other side of the coin, Time is featuring a much better (but not perfect) article titled “How to Eat Smarter.” A kind of funny quote from the article regarding the Mediterranean diet:

“The Mediterranean diet works well in the Mediterranean,” says Yale’s [David] Katz. “My concern about it in the U.S. is that people will continue to go to Burger King but just dump olive oil over their French fries.”

While the article doesn’t even bring up a vegetarian or vegan diet as a possibility, it does lean toward the “more vegetables, less meat” message.

Jerky sales up

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According to this article, the “jerky market” (as in beef and its various flavor variations). Strange. And gross.

The article says that “the growing popularity of low-carbohydrate diets has boosted sales.” More proof that people will believe whatever they want to about nutrition.

There’s no word on any changes in the Tofurky Jurky market.

(via Obscure Store)

Phoenix New Times interview with Kari Nienstedt

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The Veal Deal

Get past the annoying trying-to-be-clever questions and this is actually a good interview Kari Nienstedt, the Arizona spokesperson for Farm Sanctuary. Among other things, she discusses a topic not often talked about, animal rights activist burnout:

[Farm animal rights activist burnout is] a big problem, and there’s no organization in place to address it. It happens when you start thinking about how many people on the planet eat meat, and how your family doesn’t understand your position, and pretty soon you’re depressed and ready to go back to eating meat.

I get letters

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I received the following e-mail and thought I’d post a response publicly in case others had a similar question. The e-mail (edited for readability):

I haven’t eaten meat or chicken in a year and its been a few months with out dairy. I wanted to know, do I have to take a vitamin? I eat very well. Fresh veggies and fruit, beans, rice, certain fish, soy, seeds and nuts, whole grains, organic teas. I just don’t really understand why people take fish oils? And do I need to be taking them? Do you know of a book that tells you what you need to eat or take and why?

Before I respond let me say this: I’m not a nutritionist and my “advice” is only a guideline. You should check with your doctor or nutritionist before acting on any of my advice. Phew. Now that I have the legal stuff out of the way…

First of all, congratulations on what sounds like a big step toward eating healthier. It certainly sounds like you’re eating healthier than most people! Without knowing exactly what vegetables you’re eating and in what balance, it would be hard for me to say whether you’d need a vitamin, but my general thought on the matter is that if you’re eating a good variety of healthy foods you’ll get the nutrients you need. Since you’ve cut dairy, you will want to make sure that you’re getting enough vitamin B12 either through a supplement, fortified foods (fortified soy milk is a great source), or by adding some Red Star nutritional yeast to your foods.

With regards to fish, the main reason people are encouraged to eat fish or take fish oil is for the omega-3 fatty acids. I won’t get into a long discussion of what those are, how they work, and why they’re important, but fish, flax seeds (which can be ground and added to foods), and nuts like walnuts are all good sources. Obviously, as a vegetarian, I’d recommend going for the flax seeds as your primary source of omega-3s, particularly with some of the other health concerns with eating too much fish (high mercury levels, etc.).

I would suggest checking out Virginia Messina‘s site and read through some of the questions regarding vegetarian health and nutrition. Virginia’s also written a book titled The Vegetarian Way: Total Health for You and Your Family that may have the answer to some of your questions. You may also find The Vegan Sourcebook and VRG’s Vegan & Vegetarian FAQ helpful.

Inko’s white tea

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While hunting the shelves of a Whole Foods for some decent iced tea, I came across another iced white tea worth checking out: Inko’s Original White Tea. Their tea is brewed and only a little ginger, fructose, and citric acid is added. The end result is a very light and tasty tea. Each 16 oz. bottle has less than 60 calories and 14g of sugar. It’s really tasty stuff, though I’d love to see a variety without the ginger and even less sweetener.

It sells for around $1.60 a bottle, keeping it in line with Long Life‘s tea. A tad expensive, but worth it.