Last night my husband made a knarly dish of homemade bean/wild rice/mushroom/almond burgers and mashed potatoes. (I know, he's awesome). But it did get me thinking about potatoes - like why people say they're "fattening". I think there might be a little tiny bit of truth to this...
Here's why: I was so hungry last night (please note that we mt. biked 19 miles the day before - which is 9 miles too far :-) that I needed to seriously chow. Since the "burger" was pretty small, I found myself consuming vast amounts of potatoes. Alas, apparently not vast enough, since I woke up last night starving. And I ate a LOT of potatoes, mind you.
So this is why potatoes get labeled as fattening: while they have some fiber ( especially when the skin is consumed), they're still medium-low in fiber (5 grams per average potato) and of course contain no fat, so they're not very filling. When foods aren't filling, you find yourself overeating to compensate later. This has happened to me on a number of occasions, especially when I eat at restaurants where most foods consist of white flour products or are served with white rice. It's almost like eating nothing at all.
Another example of this is pure vegetables. If I eat a "typical" salad of just lettuce and a few veggies, I will overeat later because I'll be HUNGRY. So when I make salads at home I add garbanzo beans, walnut pieces, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries and raisins, along with greens and dressing. That way, I'm full.
Many people opt to not go vegetarian for just this reason: they think they'll be hungry all the time. If all they were to eat were fruit and veg.s, that would likely be true. That's why I'm all about whole grains, and especially LEGUMES (beans, lentils, peas, nuts/seeds). That's my meat. That carries me till my next meal.
So what I guess I'm saying is, last night I should've eaten more beans or nuts. And I'm guessing you should too, all the time. Fruit and veggies are important, but legumes are the way to satiety - and perhaps, sanity.
I forgot to tell you all to check out the new mini-video on the far-right upper hand corner of this blog. It's funny and paradoxically true.
I was at a kid's birthday party on Saturday where I am known as a nutritionist, but most people there don't read my blog. And, as I am a nutritionist, people often make assumptions, such as I don't eat sweets. Actually, I do, on special occasions - like a party or social gathering. I choose the really good ones, like homemade cookies, and I usually just eat one or two.
Since this was apparently surprising to people, I thought I'd write on my stance on sugar.
I like the phrase, "A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down". I don't have a problem with a little sugar here and there, especially if it helps me or others eat something healthy that we wouldn't eat otherwise. Like my breakfast cereal: Flax Plus Raisin Bran. Yes, it has added sugar, but it's also extremely nutrient (and fiber) dense. And I know I would never eat oatmeal without brown sugar and honey.
I remember traveling years ago in Equador, where we bought locally grown coconuts hacked open, with a straw inserted. I was shocked and disappointed just how not-so-great coconut milk is without sugar. I think we can insert lots of foods in this category. Sugar has a function in my mind.
But here's where it ends. Added sugar belongs only in foods. That's real food - not junk foods. And don't get me wrong, I'm not saying we should consume "sugar free" foods; we simply shouldn't eat (much) junk food. Junk food includes dessert, as well as processed foods. You don't need to NEVER eat junk food, just make sure it's the exception, not the norm. If you tell yourself you will never eat something again, psychologically you've just set yourself up for a crash.
Neither does much sugar belong in beverages. I don't drink juice, because it isn't fruit, it's almost completely sugar (fructose) squeezed out of the fruit. Same for sodas, whether they're made with "real cane sugar" or not. It's still empty calories, thank you very much.
That said, I will admit, I was once addicted to sugary foods. But once radically changed my diet, my sugar cravings went away. Many people have told me they had the same experience. So for you sugar junkies, take hope.
Here's an extremely enlightening article about grain- vs. grass-fed cattle by John Robbins:
Feeding grain to cattle has got to be one of the dumbest ideas in the history of western civilization.
Cows, sheep, and other grazing animals are endowed with the ability to convert grasses, which those of us who possess only one stomach cannot digest, into food that we can digest. They can do this because they are ruminants, which is to say that they possess a rumen, a 45 or so gallon (in the case of cows) fermentation tank in which resident bacteria convert cellulose into protein and fats.
Traditionally, all beef was grassfed beef, but in the United States today what is commercially available is almost all feedlot beef. The reason? It’s faster, and so more profitable. Seventy-five years ago, steers were 4 or 5 years old at slaughter. Today, they are 14 or 16 months. You can’t take a beef calf from a birth weight of 80 pounds to 1,200 pounds in a little more than a year on grass. It takes enormous quantities of corn, protein supplements, antibiotics and other drugs, including growth hormones.
Switching a cow from grass to grain is so disturbing to the animal’s digestive system that it can kill the animal if not done gradually and if the animal is not continually fed antibiotics. These animals are designed to forage, but we make them eat grain, primarily corn, in order to make them as fat as possible as fast as possible.
To keep reading, go to: What About Grass-fed Beef? by John Robbins
Another great question that I am frequently asked: What about fish and/or fish oil supplements? This is a source of confusion for many, since the media reports that only fish and fish oil give us healthy levels of Omega-3 fatty acids. Fish and fish oils contain EPA and DHA, both of which have high conversion rates into Omega-3. Plant foods contain the pre-cursor (to Omega-3) ALA, which many studies show to have inefficient conversion rates to Omega-3. So what to do?
The following is a study from the Journal of Nutrition (2006), that I believe will help clarify this dilemma:
Flaxseed Oil Improves Blood Omega-3 Fatty Acid Concentrations
Flaxseed oil is known to be a source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid that can be converted to another omega-3 fatty acid called eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and that may reduce the risk of death from heart disease. Questions have been raised about how efficiently this conversion occurs and whether people who do not eat fish (a good source of EPA) can rely on flaxseed oil and other sources of alpha-linolenic acid being converted to EPA.
A recent study gave 49 African-American subjects either capsules containing 3 grams of alpha-linolenic acid from flaxseed oil or capsules containing olive oil. After 12 weeks, blood levels of EPA increased by 60 percent in the group receiving flaxseed oil but did not increase in the group receiving olive oil. This study suggests that a significant increase in blood EPA levels can occur with a relatively low dose of flaxseed oil. The researchers conclude that it is very possible to get 3 grams of alpha-linolenic acid from diet without having to use dietary supplements. Flaxseeds, canola oil, soybean oil, and walnuts are other good sources of alpha-linolenic acid.
Harper CR, Edwards MJ, DeFilipis AP, Jacobson TA. 2006.
Flaxseed oil increases the plasma concentrations of cardioprotective (n-3) fatty acids in humans. J Nutr 136:83-87.
Just for the record, I don't take flaxseed oil. I agree with the authors of this study that "it is very possible to get 3 grams of ALA from diet without having to use supplements". ALA is found throughout plant foods: whole grains, legumes (especially nuts and seeds), and vegetables, as well as oils. I regularly eat a cereal that contains ground flaxseed (Flax Plus Raisin Bran), and of course, eat loads of whole grains and legumes. I think the fact that my blood pressure is so low (100/60 - an outcome of plentiful Omega-3 in the diet) is good evidence that I am consuming enough ALA.
For all of you who are still wondering how to go eggless, here's some good info from PCRM.org (Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine). Also, I'll throw in my favorite eggless mayonnaise: Vegenaise, by Follow Your Heart brand. It's REALLY delicious, and guilt-free.
So here's some advice on baking sans eggs - and a yummy recipe - from PCRM:
If a recipe calls for just one or two eggs, you can often skip them. Add a couple of extra tablespoons of water for each egg eliminated to balance out the moisture content of the product.
Eggless egg replacers are available in many natural food stores. These are different from reduced-cholesterol egg products which do contain eggs. Egg replacers are egg-free and are usually in a powdered form. Replace eggs in baking with a mixture of the powdered egg replacer and water according to package directions.
Also, you can use 1 heaping tablespoon of soy flour or cornstarch plus 2 tablespoons of water to replace each egg in a baked product.
Use 1 ounce of mashed tofu in place of an egg.
In muffins and cookies, half of a mashed banana can be used instead of an egg, although it will change the flavor of the recipe somewhat.
For vegetarian loaves and burgers, use any of the following to bind ingredients together: tomato paste, mashed potato, moistened bread crumbs, or rolled oats.
Scrambled Tofu - Makes 2 1/2 cup servings
This nutritious golden scramble is especially good with toasted English muffins. You can also wrap it in a whole wheat flour tortilla for a delicious breakfast burrito.
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 pound firm tofu, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon garlic granules
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons soy sauce
Heat oil in a nonstick skillet. Add onion and cook over medium heat, stirring often, for 3 minutes. Add tofu, garlic granules, turmeric, cumin, black pepper, and soy sauce. Cook, stirring gently, for 3-5 minutes.
A recent study (the Physicians' Health Study I, which included 21,327 participants with an average 20 year follow-up) regarding egg consumption and death (mortality) was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Researchers found that people who consumed seven or more eggs per week had an almost 25 percent increased risk of death than those with the lowest egg consumption. For participants with diabetes, the risk of death was twofold compared to those who consumed the least amount of eggs.
Let's hear that again: people who ate an average of only one egg a day were a quarter more likely to DIE than people who didn't eat very many eggs. That's kind of a big discovery, don't ya think? Forget that animal protein causes osteoporosis and kidney stones, eggs have a positive association with DEATH.
And if you're a diabetic, that risk is twice as high. Whoa.
So here's how it works: cholesterol intake is positively correlated to an increased risk of coronary heart disease. One large egg contains approximately 215 mg of cholesterol. The American Heart Association advises eating less than 300 mg per day, and less than 200 mg for those with heart disease. There is no biological requirement for dietary cholesterol. In other words, our body will manufacture it's own cholesterol from the saturated fat in our diet - we don't need to eat any foods containing cholesterol.
And where is cholesterol found - aside from eggs? Only foods of animal origin: red meat, poultry, fish, butter, milk and all dairy products. Don't forget that fish and chicken have the exact same level of cholesterol as red meat and pork.
Our great-grandparents didn't eat this much cholesterol, that's for sure. And even though I'm a strict vegetarian, even the meat-egg-dairy lovers among us sure could cut WAY back on these cholesterol-laden foods. We don't have to be all or nothing (although that'd be optimal): we can simply eat less animal origin foods.
By the way, I love cookies and baked goods like the next person. But I don't use eggs. I use natural substitutes like applesauce, peanut butter, mushed banana and extra oil. Eggs are used in baked products for binding dry foods together, but there are loads of healthier foods that can do this.
When I tell people to cut way back on animal protein - and the myriad reasons why - a oft-asked question is this: "If meats, eggs and dairy are so bad for us, why is it that our great-grandparents weren't vegetarians, yet they were so much healthier than we are today?" This is a GREAT question. Why is that?
As someone who was raised by her very old (born before the turn of the 20th century!) grandfather, I can tell you right off our "elders" didn't eat nearly as much animal protein as we do today. In fact, my grandfather was from a wealthy family, which was a much smaller proportion of the United States at that time. Believe it or not, in the early 20th century, only the wealthy could afford to eat meat daily. Subsidizes for meat and dairy didn't exist back then, and to eat meat, poultry or fish regularly would require an "ice box" for storage - which most people did not have. (An ice box means you paid someone to haul ice to your house every day. Hardly inexpensive.) Same for dairy products.
Also, in U.S. history, you will find most people had gardens. Even very poor people. They didn't use pesticides or artificial fertilizers. Processed foods didn't exist until mid-20th century, or exist to such measure until the last 20-something years.
You can also throw in the fact that people were much more mobile back then, but again, even the "wealthy" who weren't so mobile were healthier than the average American today. So back to animal protein intake...
Here's a quote from the "Rethinking the Meat-Guzzler" article in the NYTimes (Jan. 27th)
"Americans are downing close to 200 pounds of meat, poultry and fish per capita per year (dairy and eggs are separate, and hardly insignificant), an increase of 50 pounds per person from 50 years ago. We each consume something like 110 grams of protein a day, about twice the federal government’s recommended allowance; of that, about 75 grams come from animal protein. (The recommended level is itself considered by many dietary experts to be higher than it needs to be.) It’s likely that most of us would do just fine on around 30 grams of protein a day, virtually all of it from plant sources."
So even if we take out eggs and dairy, today we're eating 50 pounds more meat than just half a century ago. Do you think that might have something to do with it?
A study published in the January, 2001 edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined the diets of 1,035 older women, particularly focusing on the protein intake from animal and vegetable products. Study author Deborah Sellmeyer, M.D., found:
Animal protein increases bone loss.
In her study, women with a high animal-to-vegetable protein ratio experienced an increased rate of femoral neck bone loss. A high animal-to-vegetable protein ratio was also associated with an increased risk of hip fracture.
Here's her explanation:
"Sulphur-containing amino acids in protein-containing foods are metabolized to sulfuric acid. Animal foods provide predominantly acid precursors. Acidosis stimulates osteoclastic activity and inhibits osteoblast activity."
"Women with high animal-to-vegetable protein ratios were heavier and had higher intake of total protein. These women had a significantly increased rate of bone loss than those who ate just vegetable protein. Women consuming higher rates of animal protein had higher rates of bone loss and hip fracture by a factor of four times."
Wow, FOUR TIMES. That's way too risky. Let's all spare our bones by cutting back on the meat... and dairy. Oh yes, dairy and eggs are also loaded with animal protein.
In fact, milk has been called "liquid meat." The average American eats five ounces of animal protein each day in the form of red meat and chicken. At the same time, the average American consumes nearly six times that amount (29.2 ounces) per day of milk and dairy products.
So yeah, let's cut back on ALL animal protein.
I know, what a topic: bile. We all somehow seem to know bile is gross - maybe because it's what we see when we vomit - but there's more to the story.
For example, too much bile produces gall stones.
Yes, gall stones (as well as gall bladder disease and cancer) don't just spring up out of nowhere. Even though that's how it may seem when you see a doctor.
The liver produces bile, and the gall bladder stores it. Bile is an emulsifier, meaning it breaks down fat-soluble foods so they can be transported in the blood, which is water-soluble. Because bile is needed for dietary fat, a very high fat diet will cause lots of bile to be produced... which often leads to gall stones and gall bladder disorders.
On the flip side, fiber in our food literally binds with bile in the digestive tract and pulls it out the back door, thus preventing bile build-up. Not only does this prevent gall stones and the like, but because bile is made of cholesterol, eating a high-fiber diet lowers blood cholesterol. Again, fiber to the rescue.
Thank goodness for scientific research. A book on my list to read is The Okinawa Program. Apparently, Okinawans (in Japan) eat more soy than any other population in the world, and yet live the longest and have the lowest cancer incidence in the world. To read more about the benefits - and not the dark side - of soy, read this article by John Robbins: Response To Misleading Article About Soy In Mothering Magazine
Okay guys, I try to deliver the information on this blog in the most emotionally-neutral way possible (you're probably laughing right now), but since I've been asked to comment on the aluminum levels in soy products and soy formula, I'm... well, losing it... Which means prepare to see more words in all-caps.
So of course the information about aluminum levels in soy original comes from a woman that's credible, NOT. It originates from a book by a woman who literally received her PhD from a CORRESPONDENCE school (called the Union Institute - not exactly Tufts or Harvard). And, although at this time I cannot prove it, I believe with everything in me that she's been hired to write anti-soy book by the dairy lobby. She's also never published any study an a peer-review publication (a MUST for scientists and professors at credible universities or institutions).
So who is she? Kaayla Daniel, author of "The Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of America's Favorite Health Food". And there's nothing new here folks. Her myriad claims that soy causes everything from hypothyroidism and cancer to early pubescence have already been made, but not by scientists - by simple insinuation.
I can't possibly retort all her misclaims about soy in this blogpost, but I strongly urge you, dear reader, to visit a scientist I do take seriously: Dr. Mark Messina. He has a short retort to anti-soy rhetoric online: "Is It Safe to Eat Soy?" I think you'll find his writing quite refreshing and fact-based. Here's his bio: Ph.D in nutrition from Michigan State University, and former director of the Diet and Cancer Branch of the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health (NIH). Just a tad different than our anti-soy spokesperson.
I like Dr. Messina's response to the anti-soy claims. He seems to have no agenda, but to present all research outcomes. And that's what we need to be focusing on regarding soy - or any foods - ALL RESEARCH OUTCOMES. Not "one study showed", no matter how much that makes headlines.
Finally, I will try to live up to my Jewish heritage by answering the original question (aluminum content in soy formula/soy products) with a question - or two: Do we know the aluminum, or better yet, mercury (or dioxin, pesticide, or PCB) content in dairy-based formula? And since we're suddenly concerned about aluminum in formula, does it occur to anyone that aluminum from mom's diet (think soda, foods and other beverages from aluminum cans) passes into the breastmilk?