Fat-Free? Not So Fast

31 03 2011

People eager to lose weight or start a healthy diet often act immediately to base their diets around reduced fat or fat free products. Great, but what does that mean in terms of labeling and content?  The following apply:

  • Fat free: containing no or physiologically insignificant amounts of fat, saturated fat, or Trans fat.
  • Low fat or low source of fat: can be consumed frequently without exceeding dietary recommended guidelines for fat or saturated fat.
  • Low fat: less than 3g fat per serving.
  • Low saturated fat: 1g or less saturated fat per serving; not more than 15% of calories from saturated fat.

Recently, the chairman of the Harvard School of Nutrition remarked that over the last 30 years we have done a good job educating the public about the dangers of too much saturated fat intake. Saturated fat intake has decreased; but body mass index (BMI), a measure of obesity, has continued to increase. The chairman went on to comment that the problem is that it is not actually the fat that is the problem it is the carbohydrates. My commentary is that it is not carbohydrates, per se, but refined things like refined sugars (as opposed to natural sugars found in fruits, etc.).

A study looking at residents of Minnesota over almost 3 decades found that their level of sugar intake has continued to rise over that period. A rise in their BMI correlated with the increase in sugar consumption. This was more than simply examining the effect of sugary laden soft drinks, this study specifically looked at the addition of sugars in the processing and preparation of foods. When things are labeled fat free, low fat, etc. they may not contain as much fat as standard choices. But you need to look for the sugars which are listed under the carbohydrates. Why? Because you body will transform these into an expanding BMI. Now you know-don’t get fooled again.

Lavender Madeleines

30 03 2011

My friend Rebecca over at Chow and Chatter is always posting these amazing madeleines. So, I finally bit the bullet and made some delicious lavender madeleines to welcome spring. We dipped them in a Chambord Chocolate Ganache and served with a key lime whipped cream. Oh, and of course bubbly! Vive Le France!

The Best Medicine?

28 03 2011

A small study just presented at the American Heart Association meeting in Atlanta suggest that while maybe not the best medicine, laughter and song can be effective therapies[i]. A Japanese study looked at 79 adults and divided them into three groups. One got no additional intervention, one got music sessions and one got laughter sessions. Both the music and laughter groups saw an over 5mmHg reduction in blood pressure, while none was seen in the group with no intervention.  That is within the range of other therapies like medication, weight loss and reducing salt intake. Cortisol levels, a marker of stress, were also reduced after the respective therapies. Grab your iPod (or pad), crank some tunes and laugh along with Charlie. It’s all good medicine. The best medicine, you can argue about that but at least do it

[i] (Eguchi & Ciccone, 2011)


25 03 2011

Still got those leftover veggies-Try a stir-fry. Here’s one with a  little fresh and tender chicken. The sauce? Soy, sake, rice wine vinegar, salt, pepper, ginger, garlic, cilantro and sesame oil. Place a little star anise in the rice when you steam for a gentle flavor addition. I reduced the sauce in the wok with a  little corn starch in cold water. If you like a little heat, add some chilies to the sauce as well. Who needs delivery!

Cottage Pie

24 03 2011

What to do with those extra veggies? Add some delicious grass-fed free range ground beef and bison, season and top with Maytag Blue Mashed Potatoes and you have a cottage pie. Often mistakenly labeled as Shepherd’s Pie (Shepherd’s is made with lamb, hence the “Shepherd”) cottage pie is delightfully simple and amazingly satisfying and tasty!

Heartbeat Radio

23 03 2011

For those that missed our reecent appearance on Heartbeat Radio. Just push play and tune in here:

Hearbeat Radio Interview 15 March 2011

Mediterranean Diet Improves Multiple Cardiac Risk Factors

22 03 2011

The Mediterranean diet approach to eating has been shown in a number of trials to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. It also keeps you slimmer so you can squeeze into the flashy French and simply stunning Italian fashions. It is a diet that uses a lot of oil for consumption and cooking, as well as a lot of fresh product, seafood and hearty servings of fruit and veggies. And wine, don’t forget the wine.

What parameters does it improve to yield all these remarkable benefits (these would be those French benefits you hear so much about)? A recent study looked at a number of previous trials from across the globe and comprising over 500,000 participants[i]. It was found that a Mediterranean diet was associated with:

  • Decreased waist circumference
  • Higher HDL (good) cholesterol
  • Lower triglyceride levels
  • Better blood pressure control
  • Better glucose (blood sugar) metabolism

So if you can’t afford to get over to the Mediterranean, at least eat like it!

[i] (Kastorini, Milionis, Esposito, Guigliano, Goudevenos, & Panagiotakos, 2011)