Category Archives: Culinary

Coffee

Yes, it really does seem to be good for you. I don’t consider myself an “addict,” though. I can take it or leave it. I don’t like it that much, and it has no discernible effect on me. I drink it only for health reasons.

But this isn’t really true:

The bad news? Frappuccinos and lattes are not included. You have to drink it black, because added sugar, cream, and milk can pack on the calories.

The experts aren’t very “expert” if they continue to push the calorie myth. The sugar is bad because, well, sugar is bad. Cream and milk are fine though (though I do drink mine black). I do add some sea salt in the filter to take the bite out of the bitterness.

Uncle Sam, The Nutritionist

He’s a terrible one:

Here’s a bet: someday saturated fats — full fat butter, whole milk, tallow, and other animal fats — will be welcomed back, just as cholesterol has been. Until then, plenty of damage will be done to our health and the way we eat.

The American Heart Association and the U.S. government have been recommending a low-cholesterol, low-saturated fat diet for more than half a century. In 1961, when the AHA’s guidelines first came out, one in seven Americans were obese. Now one in three are.

As I’ve often noted, these quacks killed my father thirty-five years ago.

The New Cholesterol Guidelines

This is progress, but it’s still unscientific advice:

In December, the advisory panel said in its preliminary recommendations that cholesterol is no longer “considered a nutrient of concern for overconsumption.” That would be a change from previous guidelines, which said Americans eat too much cholesterol. This follows increasing medical research showing how much cholesterol is in your bloodstream is more complicated than once thought, and depends more on the kinds of fats that you eat. Medical groups have moved away from specific targets for cholesterol in the diet in recent years.

It’s unclear if the recommendation will make it into the final guidelines. Dr. Robert Eckel, a professor of medicine at the University of Colorado in Denver who is a past president of the American Heart Association, told Reuters that there’s not enough evidence to make good recommendations on cholesterol right now, but “no evidence doesn’t mean the evidence is no.”

People can enjoy high-cholesterol egg yolks in moderation, but “a three- to four-egg omelet isn’t something I’d ever recommend to a patient at risk for cardiovascular disease,” he says.

Junk science.

And then there’s this:

Of course, all fat must be consumed in moderation, which is why many dieticians recommend eating only a few egg yolks each week. And for patients with a history of vascular disease, keeping track of the eggs they eat is critical to their health. A study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that patients with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease should limit their cholesterol intake from foods to about 200 milligrams a day.

Despite their fat and cholesterol content, egg yolks are a good source of vitamin A and iron, along with a host of other nutrients.

It’s not “despite” that. Saturated fat is good for you. It’s the healthiest kind of fat, and trying to replace it has been a public-health disaster. One battle at a time, I suppose.

High-Fat Rodent Diets

Why they are not to be trusted:

So are the results telling us that the increasingly popular low carb high fat approach is wrong? That after all there’s no need for official bodies to perform a major U-turn? Not as far as I can tell. In fact it seems the rodent work is highly misleading. Not only are the so called ‘high fat diets’ they are fed nothing like the low carbohydrate diets any informed human would follow, but the animals have been selectively bred to ensure they become fat and diabetic on a high fat diet. This is not research, it is a rigged game.

I’m sure you’re as shocked as I am.

Whole Foods

America’s angriest store?

I have to say, this hasn’t been my experience, but I don’t go that often — I think most of the food is way overpriced. It might be partly a function of geography.

Via Dr. Eades:

[Update a few minutes later]

Wrong link, fixed now, sorry.

Another Sat Fat Study

No, you don’t increase your saturated fat by eating saturated fat. It’s the carbs, stupid:

The fatty acid called palmitoleic acid, which is associated with “unhealthy metabolism of carbohydrates that can promote disease,” went down with low-carb diets and gradually increased as carbs were re-introduced, the study said.

An increase in this fatty acid indicates that a growing proportion of carbohydrates is being converted into fat instead of being burned by the body, the researchers said.

“When you consume a very low-carb diet your body preferentially burns saturated fat,” Volek said.

“We had people eat two times more saturated fat than they had been eating before entering the study, yet when we measured saturated fat in their blood, it went down in the majority of people,” he said.

The finding “challenges the conventional wisdom that has demonized saturated fat and extends our knowledge of why dietary saturated fat doesn’t correlate with disease,” Volek added.

You don’t say.

Also, how the mindless theory of calorie counting has harmed public health.

[Update a while later]

Nine lies about fat that have destroyed the world’s health.

Orthorexia

When “healthy” eating becomes unhealthy.

There may be reasons to be a vegan, but health is not among them.

[Update late morning]

Both Anne Hathaway and Bill Clinton have given up on their vegan diets:

Hathaway recently confessed that eating endless meals of tofu and garbanzo beans seemed to be sapping her energy. She told the Insider that when she was filming Interstellar, the action-packed scenes overwhelmed her.

Seeking a solution, Hathaway decided to try feasting on fish and shifting to a low-carb diet. The decision to push away those plant-based platters and experiment with an animal protein-powered plan came in the middle of filming a water scene, which required that she suit up in a heavy garment.

“I fell off so hard…. So you imagine what that’s like — what it’s like running through water and then you wear a 40-pound suit on top of it, so for me it was intense. I was facing my life, I don’t know how many days in a row of, like, garbanzo beans on a plate.”

And with an apology to PETA, Hathaway says that she doesn’t plan to return to her vegan lifestyle. She even dug into a plate of eggs and sausage during a recent Harper’s Bazaar interview. Anne noted that the difference between eating a vegan diet and consuming animal protein was notable overnight.

“I just didn’t feel good or healthy,” Hathaway recalled of her vegan days.

You don’t say.

A Medical Breakthrough

An informational one:

…new recommendations regarding dietary fat from “what’s new Family Medicine” section.

Fat intake and coronary risk (April 2014)

Although it is known that there is a continuous graded relationship between serum cholesterol concentration and coronary heart disease (CHD), and that dietary intake of saturated fat raises total serum cholesterol, a 2014 meta-analysis of prospective observational studies found no association between intake of saturated fat and risk for CHD [7]. The meta-analysis also found no relationship between monounsaturated fat intake and CHD, but suggested a reduction in CHD with higher intake of omega-3 polyunsaturated fats; a benefit with omega-6 polyunsaturated fats remains uncertain. Given these results, we no longer suggest avoiding saturated fats per se, although many foods high in saturated fats are less healthy than foods containing lower levels. In particular, we no longer feel there is substantial evidence for choosing dairy products based on low fat content (such as choosing skim milk in preference to higher fat milk). We continue to advise reducing intake of trans fatty acids. (See “Dietary fat”, section on ‘Saturated fatty acids’.)

Better late than never.

Coffee

Is it ruining your productivity?

In other words, that euphoric short-term state that you enter after drinking coffee is what non-habitual caffeine consumers are experiencing all of the time. The difference is that for coffee drinkers, the feeling doesn’t last. “Coming off caffeine reduces your cognitive performance and has a negative impact on your mood. The only way to get back to normal is to drink caffeine, and when you do drink it, you feel like it’s taking you to new heights,” Bradberry explained. “In reality, the caffeine is just taking your performance back to normal for a short period.”

See, for me, the thing is that I can’t even tell whether or not I’ve had any. I just drink it for medicinal purposes. In fact, even though I now drink two cups almost every morning, I don’t consider myself a “habitual” drinker, because that implies that it’s a habit. It really isn’t, for me. I sometimes forget to drink it.

Low-Carb Diets

Another well-designed study shows its benefits.

[Update a while later]

Here‘s the original NYT piece.

[Afternoon update]

On an email list, I responded to a friend who was interested, but disgusted by eating fat (doesn’t like butter on anything except potatoes, cuts it off steak, etc.)

I’m not big on just eating fat per se myself, but I now take fat I cut off and render it (tallow for beef, lard for pork, schmaltz for chicken) and add it to other things (like a can of “fat-free” baked beans yesterday), or fry eggs or other things in it. For instance, when you cook bacon, you’re actually rendering the lard (the bacon grease). When I render beef suet I get what I call “beef bacon,” tasty bits of crunchy protein, along with the tallow. I’ve quit using seed or vegetable oil for deep frying and switched to lard or tallow (the latter is what used to make McDonalds fries taste good, until they got mau maued into switching to other oils, and it made a lot of economic sense given that they own cattle ranches and generate so much of it in cooking the burgers). Also, eat crispy chicken skin (the chicken version of bacon). There are a lot of non-disgusting ways to increase your fat intake, while improving food taste/mouth feel.

I’d like to start a social media campaign to get McDonalds to go back to tallow for fries (yes, I know that potatoes are problematic, but if you’re going to eat them, at least fry them in a delicious and healthy fat). It might even knock down the prices.

What Makes Us Fat

Here’s a radical idea: Let’s do some actual scientific research:

…much of what we think we know about nutrition is based on observational studies, a mainstay of major research initiatives like the Nurses’ Health Study, which followed more than 120,000 women across the US for three decades. Such studies look for associations between the foods that subjects claim to eat and the diseases they later develop. The problem, as Taubes sees it, is that observational studies may show a link between a food or nutrient and a disease but tell us nothing about whether the food or nutrient is actually causing the disease. It’s a classic blunder of confusing correlation with causation—and failing to test conclusions with controlled experiments. “Good scientists will approach new results like they’re buying a used car,” he says. “When the salesman tells you it’s a great car, you don’t take his word for it. You get it checked out.”

NuSI’s starting assumption, in other words, is that bad science got us into the state of confusion and ignorance we’re in. Now Taubes and Attia want to see if good science can get us out.

What a concept.