Tag Archives: processed food

Paleo Plants and Carnivory

From what I gather, it’s been difficult to pinpoint the role of plants in the diet of our ancestors for a variety of reasons.  For example, evidence of plants on cooking tools and dental remains is suggestive but doesn’t disprove the possibility that said evidence came from preparing the plants for some other purpose (eg, tools, weapons, or medicine), or that the stomach contents of an herbivore was ingested (which gets partial credit).

That said, after reviewing a few studies on the topic (see below), it’s safe to say that plants were eaten, probably frequently, and the types & quantities varied seasonally & geographically.  Collectively, the data suggest we aren’t carnivores.

…you had to have something to hold you over until the next fish fell prey to your deadly hunting spear…  

Continue reading

Share

Fermented meat & probiotics

From Slate: “Sausage made with bacteria from baby poop isn’t as gross as it sounds.” 

and my favorite: “Pooperoni? Baby-poop bacteria help make healthy sausages.

Much ado about: Nutritionally enhanced fermented sausages as a vehicle for potential probiotic lactobacilli delivery (Rubio et al., 2014)

The media seems to have missed the ball, but not by far.  They focused on healthy microbes being incorporated into fermented meats, whereas the scientists seemed to want to make a “healthier” low-salt, low-fat sausage.

The low-salt part seems to partially make sense from a fermentation-perspective: using probiotics instead of salt to reduce the potential for pathogenic microbial contamination.  However, I doubt reducing the sodium by 25% will have any appreciable impact on health outcomes.  The effect of adding beneficial microbes, on the other hand, might.

They also mentioned making it lower in fat, but that doesn’t make as much sense; I don’t think there’s a big contamination risk of having a higher fat content.  #lipophobia

Continue reading

Share

MOA of MCTs – black magic or something less?

MCTs provide a respectable boost in diet-induced thermogenesis (in some studies [eg, Kasai 2002  & Clegg 2012], but not others [Alexandrou 2007]), but I don’t think that’s what does it.

The alternative?  MCTs aren’t “linoleate.” (sorry for lack of suspense)

Alcohol + MCTs vs. corn oil (from Kirpich 2013):

Kirpich

Further, feed rats a diet rich in either coconut oil, olive oil, safflower oil, evening primrose oil, or menhaden oil… and eventually the fat stored in their bodies reflect those fats – eg, linoleate only accumulated in the tissues of those fed safflower & evening primrose oils (Yaqoob 1995) (expect similar results with soybean & corn oils).

Researchers constantly refer to MCTs & coconut oil as “saturated fats,” but I always thought the chain length should be recognized.  Perhaps.  But with regard to certain benefits (eg, hepatoprotection), perhaps not.

Cacao butter has a lot of stearate (a fully saturated 18-carbon fatty acid) but not much linoleate or MCTs.  This linoleate may very well be more of a detriment than stearate or MCTs are a benefit… (with regard to certain benefits [eg, hepatoprotection])Beef and chocolate

(Leslie Roberts, 1988) (she’s talking about stearate)

Continue reading

Share

Molested fats, Op. 139

or
Trans fats, part IV

Proceed with caution, this is an exploratory post.  Replacing CakesCookiesPiesPastriesBreadCerealsBiscuitsPizzaMuffins with [insert any whole food item here] is just a good idea.  And more reasons to eat dark chocolate.

In Inflammatory, trans, or linoleate? the idea was explored that it might not be the theorized textbook pro-inflammatory end products of omega-6 fats that give them a bad rap, but rather the foods that contain them – ie, “cakes, cookies, pies, and pastries” (Kris-Etherton et al., 2012 NHANES), or “bread, cereals, cakes, biscuits, pies, pizza, and muffins” (Meyer et al., 2003 from down under).

dark chocolate

Further, what starts out as an omega-6 fat can easily become peroxidized or isomerized into an oxidized or trans fat, respectively, via industrial molestation or just plain old cooking (eg, Romero et al., 1998, Marmesat et al., 2012, & Minami et al., 2012) – even just a few minutes in the microwave (Herzallah et al., 2005)!  I don’t know exactly what all of these end products are for sure, but they might look something like this:ox linoleate

Thus, the culprit may not be native Dc9,c1218:2n6 linoleate.

Continue reading

Share

Non-sequiter nutrition V. The neglected fats

update: I learned a new trick.  If you haven’t been receiving the regular updates to which you subscribed, it’s probably due to spam filters.  Cure: find the update in your spam folder and reply to it.  You don’t have to write anything, but the mere act of replying somehow tells your spam filter that the email wasn’t spam.  It works for gmail, fwiw.

I [still] predict public approval of dietary fat will come along at a snail’s pace, and it won’t be a pan-approval of dietary fat at all.  Instead, it will be selective approval of individual fatty acids.  First, it was the medium chain fatty acids found in MCTs and coconut oil.  Then, it was the fish oil fatty acids eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids (EPA and DHA, respectively).  Then, palmitoleic acid.  Corn and soybean oil, on the other hand, are being appropriately recognized as bad.  The utter hatred and fear of saturated fats is starting to wane, and we might even see a transition back to lard before I die (circa 2113).  But today’s post is on another topic: trans fats, oxidized fish oils, and dairy fat.

What happens when dietary fat is abused?

Continue reading

Share

Mediterranean Diet Fail – Nutrition Disinformation, Part I.

Do not get your hopes up, do not pass GO!  do not collect $200.  The Mediterranean Diet.  Fail.

Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet (Estruch et al., 2013)

This is one of the biggest diet studies we’ve seen in a while, and no doubt it was a very good one.  It very effectively put the Mediterranean Diet to the test.

I felt compelled to write about this study out of fear for the nutrition disinformation that it would likely inspire.  The Mediterranean Diet is associated with all good things, happiness, red wine and olive oil; whereas the Atkins Diet is associated with artery clogging bacon-wrapped hot dogs and a fat guy who died of a heart attack.  Nutrition disinformation.

If you ran a diet study with 3 intervention groups for 5 years, and by the end of the study everybody (in all 3 groups) was on more prescription medications, would you conclude any of the diets were “healthy?”  If so, then we should work on your definition of “healthy.”

Study details: big study, lasted roughly 5 years, and the diet intervention was pristine.  Mediterranean diet plus extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) vs. Mediterranean diet plus nuts vs. low fat control.  They even used biomarkers to confirm olive oil and nut intake (hydroxytyrosol and linoleate, respectively).  Compliance was good.

Continue reading

Share

Protein bar takedown, part III (or V)

No more pretense or cute backstory; I just like reviewing ingredient profiles of protein bars.  It’s a hobby of mine:
Candy in disguise, Op. 73 (circa April 2012)
Decepticon Promicor (soluble corn fiber), Op. 81 (June 2012)
Candy in disguise II, Op. 87 (July 2012)
Protein bar round-up, take II (September 2012)

See?

This is a review of Netrition’s “highest rated” bars.  Important notes about this category: these are not necessarily “new” protein bars, or even the bars everyone buy (“best sellers”).  They are the bars everyone who votes like the most.  They’re not the healthiest either… but some come close.   Continue reading

Share

the opposite of food, Op. 76

Processed non-junk food

or

as close to “non-junk” as processed food can be

Notice the inverse relationship between fat content and the number of ingredients in these three commercially available sour cream products.  This is processed food.

Regular:
Cultured pasteurized grade A cream and milk, enzymes.

Low-Fat:
Cultured Milk, Cream, Nonfat Dry Milk, Whey, Modified Corn Starch, Sodium Phosphate, Guar Gum, Carrageenan, Calcium Sulfate, Locust Bean Gum, Gelatin, Vitamin A Palmitate.

Fat Free:
Cultured Low-fat Milk, Modified Corn Starch, Whey Protein Concentrate, Propylene Glycol Monoester, Artificial Color, Gelatin, Sodium Phosphate, Agar Gum, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Citrate, Locust Bean Gum, Vitamin A Palmitate.

 

 

Fat-Free Half & Half

not cream

In general, “Half & Half” refers to a 50:50 blend of whole milk and cream.  People think it’s better than cream because it has less fat.  Whole milk is about 3% fat by weight, while cream is about 30%.  Mix ‘em together and you end up with Half & Half, which is somewhere in between (12-14%).  Fat has a profound effect on flavor and texture… so how exactly does “Fat-Free Half & Half” taste and feel just like regular Half & Half?!?  Muah ha ha ha haaaa!

divide and conquer

From what I can gather, the fat is replaced with corn syrup and pharmaceutical grade thickeners, emulsifiers, etc., scientifically engineered to mimic the precise flavor and texture of Half & Half.  There are even artificial colors added to make it look like cream.  There are artificial colors added to make it look like cream?  AYFKM?  For some reason, I find this oddly offensive.  It is to these artificial colors which I object.  I want this concoction (that is advertised as better than cream) to look like whatever “corn syrup, carrageenan, sodium citrate, dipotassium phosphate, mono and diglycerides, and vitamin A palmitate” looks like.  And it should release a pale green mist upon contact with coffee.

The sugar in Fat-Free Half & Half comes from corn syrup, while that in real dairy is lactose.  Glucose is sweeter than lactose, and there’s 2-3x more sugar in Fat-Free Half & Half.  Does this mean people use less of it?  I doubt it, because the additional sweetness is probably necessary to compensate for the lack of fat.

And what about all the other additives in Fat-Free Half & Half?  This is reminiscent of the introduction of trans fats into our diet by way of replacing butter and lard with margarine and shortening…

Carrageenan is partially responsible for improving the mouthfeel and texture of Fat-Free Half & Half.

carrageenan. Looks scary, right?

At high doses, it’s an inflammatory gut irritant.  Given coffee’s not-so-gut-friendly reputation, do you really want to push it with carrageenan?

On another note, carrageenan is used to design some of the most beautifully artistic desserts.

In this context, I’m reminded of the phrase: “the dose makes the poison.”  In other words, those dishes are a dietary rarity, reserved for the most special of occasions.  At that level of exposure, it could be a blend of carrageenan, trans fat, sucrose, and Red #40, you could eat 5 of them at a time, and you’d never experience any malevolent effects.  But what about a few tablespoons in your coffee every morning for 30 years???  (alternatively, perhaps I’m underestimating carrageenan exposure a bit) (other, more sordid uses of carrageenan)

Avoid processed foods, especially when they’re no more convenient or healthy their conventional counterparts.

 

calories proper

 

P.S.  Perhaps I was a little too hard on Fat-Free Half & Half.  It’s not as bad as microwave popcorn, or this classic:

One 43 gram Twinkie contains 5 grams of fat, 25 grams of sugars, 1 gram of protein, no fibre, 150 kcal, and over 35 ingredients:

  • Enriched Wheat Flour – enriched with ferrous sulphate, B vitamins (niacin, thiamine mononitrate, ribofavin and folic acid).
  • Sugar
  • Corn syrup
  • Water
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Vegetable shortening – containing one or more of partially hydrogenated soybean, cottonseed or canola oil, and beef fat.  [trans fat]
  • Dextrose
  • Whole eggs
  • Modified corn starch
  • Cellulose gum
  • Whey
  • Leavenings (sodium acid pyrophosphate, baking soda, monocalcium phosphate)
  • Salt
  • Cornstarch
  • Corn flour
  • Corn syrup solids
  • Mono and diglycerides
  • Soy lecithin
  • Polysorbate 60
  • Dextrin
  • Calcium caseinate
  • Sodium stearol lactylate
  • Wheat gluten
  • Calcium sulphate
  • Natural and artificial flavours
  • Caramel colour
  • Sorbic acid (to retain freshness)
  • Colour added (yellow 5, red 40)

 

 

Share