Top 10 Most Overrated Health Foods

by | Mar 3, 2014

Photo by Paul Holloway

Like it or not, we tend to believe whatever we are exposed to in the media and in advertisements. In nutrition this usually means that as a society we all follow the same diet fads, glorifying some foods over others in the quest for better health. (It’s okay, I love salmon and coconut water as much as you do).

Problem is though, more often than not the news or the health claims made by food manufacturers vastly overstate any potential health benefits, because it makes a more compelling story and sells more products. Our own confirmation biases tend to make us believe what we’re told, we confidently share our insight with our friends, and suddenly our grocery stores are filled with health foods that really aren’t all they are cracked up to be.

Here are my 10 picks for the most overrated health foods.
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For the Love of Food

by | Feb 21, 2014
For The Love of Food

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

This week low-fat dairy is pointless, farmers may plant foods that are actually healthy, and how the color red can help you eat less.

Want to see all my favorite links? (There’s lots more). Be sure to follow me on on Delicious. I also share links on Twitter @summertomato,  Google+ and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you. (And yes, I took that pepper heart pic myself).
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For the Love of Food

by | Dec 13, 2013
For The Love of Food

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

This week exercise is better than drugs, organic, full-fat milk attains nutritional superiority, and how dad’s diet affects baby’s health.

Want to see all my favorite links? (There’s lots more). Be sure to follow me on on Delicious. I also share links on Twitter @summertomato,  Google+ and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you. (And yes, I took that pepper heart pic myself).

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For the Love of Food

by | Dec 6, 2013
For The Love of Food

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

This week cavemen actually did eat beans, dairy fat is surprisingly healthy, how God can help you lose weight and so much more. I found an abnormal number of fantastic articles this week, so definitely don’t skip this round.

Want to see all my favorite links? (There’s lots more). Be sure to follow me on on Delicious. I also share links on Twitter @summertomato,  Google+ and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you. (And yes, I took that pepper heart pic myself).

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The Foodist’s Plate

by | May 13, 2013

Foodist Plate

 

Few things annoy me more than rules about eating. Rules remind me of restriction, which reminds me of deprivation, which smells an awful lot like dieting. And as every foodist knows, dieting does more harm than good toward your health and weight loss efforts, and saps the fun out of life. Thanks, but no thanks.

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Wedding Worries and Weight Loss: Eating for the Big Day

by | Apr 3, 2013
Photo courtesy of Ryan Vance

Photo courtesy of Ryan Vance (to make her dance)

Almost every bride I’ve known has put herself on some sort of special eating regimen in preparation for the big day. Though weight loss is often the goal, it is certainly not the only reason both brides and grooms should eat well on their path to the altar.

As a longtime foodist, I was not even remotely concerned about fitting into my dress. It fit beautifully, and I expect it will fit this time next year as well.

My biggest concern leading up to the big day was stress management. I almost never get sick, but with the pressure of a book launch and impending nuptials it has been harder than normal to get a restful night’s sleep. The last thing I wanted was to come down with the flu or some other bug from all the stress and travel.

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10 Tasty Carbs That Won’t Make You Fat

by | Mar 20, 2013

Photo by Denna Jones

We all know the story. Eating carbohydrates causes a spike in blood sugar, which results in a surge of insulin. Insulin shuttles all that extra sugar into your fat cells and you become obese. Over time, your poor helpless organs become resistant to insulin and you develop type 2 diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure, thereby shortening your life by 7 years.

All of that is true.

The story is more complicated, however, because all carbs are not created equal.

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For The Love Of Food

by | May 25, 2012

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

Why eating organic food doesn’t make you a jerk, how a pastry chef in Paris keeps his man-ish figure, and how NOT to get your husband to eat better.

Want to see all my favorite links? Be sure to follow me on on Delicious. I also share links on Twitter @summertomatoGoogle+ and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you. (And yes, I took that pepper heart pic myself).

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

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Foodist Recalibration

by | Jan 1, 2012

Photo by o5com

It’s been a rough couple of months. I’ve been out of town almost every weekend since the beginning of November, and sadly can’t remember the last time I went to my beloved farmers market.

Though the traveling was fun, I couldn’t be happier to ring in 2012 with a fresh start. I don’t diet or “cleanse” (I’ve yet to hear a scientific explanation of what that actually means), but I’m taking the first two weeks of January to eat extra healthy and recalibrate back to my regular happy self.

I have just three simple rules I’ll be sticking to. Of course my emphasis will be on eating lots of healthy vegetables, fish, legumes, pastured meats, fermented foods, etc. But to really get back on track I’ll also be temporarily eliminating the three most inflammatory (and weight loss unfriendly) foods.

Summer Tomato’s Health Recalibration

1. No sugar.

Everyone knows sugar is bad for you. And although I believe there’s a place for small amounts of it in a healthy diet, I’ll be living without any added sugar for the next two weeks.

If you plan on following along, I’d also recommend avoiding sugar substitutes. Calorie-free sweeteners have never been shown to assist with weight loss, and you aren’t doing yourself any favors by keeping your palate craving overly sweet foods. If you’re desperate for a little treat during this time, fruit is your best bet.

2. No wheat.

I typically limit my bread consumption to about once or twice a week, but for the next two weeks I’ll be going without it completely. Wheat is incredibly inflammatory and is associated with a huge range of health problems. Eliminating wheat and gluten, wheat’s main protein, for awhile gives your body a chance to heal from the damage done over the holiday season.

If you suspect you might be sensitive to gluten, two weeks might not be enough of a break to get you back to feeling normal. Four to eight weeks without it is what is typically recommended to test for sensitivity, so feel free to extend past two weeks if you’re troubleshooting health problems like fatigue, depression, arthritis or digestive issues.

I recommend avoiding all processed flours during recalibration, but you carbohydrate lovers still have lots of delicious options to get you through. I’ll be relying on rice, quinoa, potatoes and legumes to keep me from being a cranky low-carber. If you absolutely must eat pasta during the recalibration, there are plenty of good gluten-free options. Quinoa pastas aren’t too bad, and rice noodles are also usually gluten-free.

Keep in mind if you want to go fully gluten-free you should also skip barley. Oats don’t contain wheat gluten but are often contaminated during processing. Gluten-free oats are available at some stores.

Lastly, remember that soy sauce is made with wheat and contains gluten. A gluten-free option called tamari is an excellent substitute that basically tastes the same.

3. No dairy.

This one will be the hardest for me since cheese, yogurt and the occasional half-and-half do make regular appearances in my diet. However, dairy can make insulin regulation difficult and it can help to cut it out for a couple weeks.

Eliminating dairy products can help with other problems as well. Cow’s milk is the only food that is directly linked to acne. It can also be an inhibitor to weight loss, even in very small amounts. Like gluten, dairy can also trigger inappropriate immune responses, making it particularly problematic for people with rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune diseases.

For milk lovers, I recommend almond milk or coconut milk as tasty substitutes, just be sure you get the unsweetened varieties. Here’s why I don’t usually drink soy milk.

4. Alcohol

I love me a glass of nice wine or a well-crafted artisan cocktail. I drink alcohol fairly regularly, and there is a good amount of evidence that it protects against coronary heart disease. Though there have been reports about alcohol increasing cancer incidence, the risks are typically mitigated by a healthy diet that contains plenty of folic acid.

So why do I recommend a two week break from the sauce? For starters, alcohol lowers your inhibition and makes it much harder to stick to the recalibration. It’s hard enough, you don’t need any extra excuses. The more important reason, however, is alcohol’s effect on your liver. Like fructose (the sugar molecule that is processed by the liver), alcohol promotes body fat accumulation and insulin resistance. For recalibration to be effective, you’ll need to be a teetotaler for at least two weeks. Sorry.

I started on January 1, but Monday January 2, is probably a more reasonable start date for most of you.

Who’s with me?

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Dairy: Friend or Foe? – Episode #5 – Summer Tomato Live [video]

by | Apr 18, 2011

Thanks to those of you who participated in this episode on the role of dairy in health and weight loss. Show notes are below.

Please note that the date for the probiotics episode (#6) has changed to Monday, April 25 @ 6:30p PST (previously Tuesday, April 26).

April 11, 2011 | Does milk really protect against osteoporosis? Will too much calcium give you prostate cancer? Can you reduce acne if you stop eating dairy? What’s the deal with raw milk?

The answers may surprise you.

Tune in tonight at 6:30pm PST to join our live discussion about the pros and cons of dairy.

Live participation is only available to subscribers of the newsletter Tomato Slice. You can sign up at any time, even during the show, and the password for participation will be emailed to you immediately.

Click here to sign up and get the password

Read this for more information on the show and newsletter

To watch live and join the discussion click the red “Join event” button, login with Twitter or your Vokle account, and enter the password when prompted.

I encourage you to call in with video questions, particularly if your question is nuanced and may involve a back and forth discussion. Please use headphones to call in however, or the feedback from the show is unbearable.

Show notes:

There is a huge amount of politics surrounding this science, because of the powerful influence of dairy industries around the world. This makes data difficult to interpret. The following review and its rebuttal regarding the role of milk in type 1 diabetes is a perfect example of what I mean:

Dairy & type 1 diabetes

Dairy and osteoporosis

Dairy and acne

Dairy/calcium and heart disease

Dairy/calcium and prostate cancer

Dairy/calcium and colon cancer

Dairy & breast cancer

Dairy & weight loss (very tough to find studies not funded by dairy industry)

  • Moderate weight loss from dairy (but rarely from intervention studies w/o caloric restriction)
  • Possible mechanisms include:
    • Ca++
    • protein
    • conjugated lineoleic acid (CLA)
    • medium-chain fatty acids
  • My interpretation: dairy not likely to have big impact on body weight

Cheese protects against cancer and heart disease?

Extras

  • Processed ice cream contains beaver anal gland?
  • Wikipedia
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