For the Love of Food

by | Jul 25, 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 eating with others transcends better health, the new tastebuds on the block, and why to avoid certain peaches.

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 | Jan 13, 2012

For The Love of Food

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

I haven’t published a link love round up since before the holidays (I’ve been traveling and then moving, and still don’t have internet at my new home), so I included some great ones here that you might have missed over the past couple weeks. Below I’ve included some wonderful pieces on weight loss and willpower in the Times, a lamesauce ruling by the FDA on antibiotics use in factory farms and a thoughtful editorial on the state of organic farming.

Want to see all my favorite links? Be sure to follow me on on Digg. 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.

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

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For The Love Of Food

by | Sep 9, 2011

For The Love of Food

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

This week’s top 10 require careful reading and a little extra thinking, but it’s worth it. Learn why daily activity is more important than formal exercise, how habits can affect your food intake, some encouraging news from the USDA and more.

Want to see all my favorite links? Be sure to follow me on on Digg. I also share links on Twitter (@summertomato) and the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

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For The Love Of Food

by | Aug 19, 2011

For The Love of Food

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

It was a very difficult week for my family as well as the food blog community. Heart disease is still the #1 cause of death in this country, and I hope that what I’m doing here at Summer Tomato can make a small (or, hopefully, large) dent in that in the years to come.

The good news is I found a ton of fantastic articles this week, with my top 10 including why carbs aren’t the obvious enemy in obesity, why sitting too much is not the same as working out too little and why being a nudist may extend your life.

Want to see all my favorite links? Be sure to follow me on on Digg. I also share links on Twitter (@summertomato) and the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week


Life is short, fill it with love.

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For The Love Of Food

by | Feb 18, 2011

For The Love of Food

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

In case you missed it, be sure to check out the first episode of Summer Tomato Live and vote on our next show topic. Voting closes tonight at midnight, PST.

(BTW, Summer Tomato Live is now on iTunes. If you have time to leave a review I’d be deeply grateful.)

This week: why vegans have more heart risks, McDonald’s new “healthy-food” chain, what Donald Rumsfeld has to do with Diet Coke, and more bad news for people who think exercise will solve their weight problems.

I read many more wonderful articles than I post here each week. If you’d like to see more or just don’t want to wait until Friday, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@summertomato) or the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. For a complete list of my favorite stories check out my links on Digg. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

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How Healthy Eating Saves You Money On Health Insurance

by | Jun 30, 2010
Day 9

Photo by j.reed

I’ve been a student my entire life so have never had to worry about health insurance. (I’m 30. I know.) As you might expect, I consequently don’t know much about how the whole business works.

One thing I do know, however, is that when I finally have to join the real world and find my own coverage I hope to use it as little as possible. According to today’s guest post, it looks like I’m on the right track.

Yamileth Medina is an up-and-coming expert on health and health insurance plans. She lives in Miami, Florida. Follow her on Twitter @YamilethMedina.

How Healthy Eating Saves You Money On Health Insurance

by Yamileth Medina

We all know eating healthy helps us look and feel our best, but there is another great reason to upgrade your healthstyle: a healthy diet can save you a ton of money on health care costs.

Over the past decade, health insurance rates have skyrocketed. In 2009, monthly premiums in the United States were 131% higher than they were in 2000, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. This is largely due to the high cost of treating diseases related to unhealthy diets.

According to a recent study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and RTI International, health conditions related to obesity (including type 2 diabetes and heart disease) cost the American health care system over $147 billion each year.

What is this money spent on?

  • Open-heart bypass surgery: up to $20,000
  • Prescription medication and supplies for diabetes: $115 to $177 monthly–for life
  • CPAP machines (to treat sleep apnea): from $150 to $5,000

An obese person costs 42% more to treat than a person of normal weight, which is an additional $1,429. Health insurance plans must pass these costs onto you through higher premiums. In order to recoup these expenses, obese individuals often find it harder to find individual coverage, due to the increased risk of health problems obesity entails.

Much of this cost is passed onto other consumers, since the majority of Americans have employer-sponsored plans from their jobs. Insurers must recoup the increased costs in order to maintain their margins.

Although the Obama administration’s healthcare reform legislation will eventually forbid health insurance companies from denying you a policy due to your health status, that will not take effect until 2014. Still, unhealthy individuals will not be out of the woods: the law also promotes wellness incentives, which promote healthy lifestyle modifications–such as dietary changes. Under the legislation, insurers and employers will be allowed to refund up to 50 percent of the premiums for those who meet the specified goals. That is a significant amount of money that could end up in your pocket if you maintain a healthy weight.

From my personal experience, healthy eating is close to 80 percent of the equation when it comes to weight loss. I was a faithful exerciser for years, but it wasn’t until I changed my diet–to include more vegetables and whole grains–that I started seeing success.

Even if you are lucky enough to be blessed with an extremely fast metabolism, that doesn’t mean that you can eat nothing but junk all day and not suffer any consequences. The “skinny-fat” phenomenon consists of people who appear healthy, but have the cardiovascular profile of someone in poor health. Unhealthy eating habits promote visceral fat, which is invisible to the naked eye but is even more harmful to your well-being than the visible flabby stuff.

In fact, some studies indicate that even if an obese person does not reach a healthy body mass index (BMI), under a healthy eating plan they would nevertheless be healthier than a person of normal weight that had a relatively high percentage of body fat.

Can multivitamins make up for a poor diet? Don’t count on it. When it comes to health, nutrients are not the same as food. There seems to be something special about how all of the nutrients work together in the context of whole foods. In that respect, nature can’t be improved upon.

For several years, insurance companies will still be able to judge your health status and decide on your rates accordingly. Maintaining a healthy weight means you will be free of expensive co-payments for cholesterol and heart disease medication, and benefit from any financial incentives that may come about in the future.

Upgrading your healthstyle also assists you in sticking to a budget; cooking for yourself is far less expensive than eating out one or more times a day. In a nation slowly crawling out of a severe recession, this is especially important.

Above all, your immune system will become stronger–helping you stay healthy and reducing the chance of expensive hospitalizations in the future.

Fortunately the solution for better health is relatively simple. Visiting a farmers market once a week and buying a cookbook or two can save you a substantial amount of money on your health insurance plan in the long run.

Is your diet affecting your health insurance costs?

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For The Love of Food

by | Dec 4, 2009
For The Love of Food

For The Love of Food

I had to take a little break from reading articles this week since I have a big project I’m working on in lab right now. Instead of the usual awesome links, today I want to share with you a video lecture by UCSF professor, Robert Lustig.

It is long, but absolutely worth watching.

And it is particularly important if someone you know is suffering from type 2 diabetes or other chronic disease.

Dr. Lustig argues that sugars, and specifically fructose, are a direct cause of the current obesity epidemic and more similar to alcohol (poison) than to food. His discussion of the effects of fructose on children is heartbreaking and makes his arguments particularly poignant.

It also helps answer the question I often get about why cultures that depend largely on pasta and white rice (Italian and Asian societies) aren’t as unhealthy as Americans even though we all eat “processed carbs.” The answer is that it is both the processing and the additives that cause the problem, and Dr. Lustig explains in detail the science behind it all.

I should warn you that about half way through he starts going into some serious biochemistry, but don’t let it scare you. That section is short and you don’t need to understand the details to get the take home message. Those of you with some undergrad chemistry under your belt will enjoy it, but that is by no means required. Scrub ahead if you must.

My favorite quote:

“Fructose is ethanol without the buzz.”

In other words fructose is much, much worse.

Watch this and share it with your loved ones.

P.S. Thanks to those of you who downloaded How To Get Started Eating Healthy. If you thought you should have received a copy but didn’t, you are probably signed up for the blog post emails but not the newsletter. The difference is explained here. Fill out the newsletter form to get a link to the free guide.

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The Latest on Carbs, Fat and Weight Loss

by | Jan 29, 2009

A study published last week in the journal Obesity may make you question whether you really want to rely on the Atkins or South Beach diets to reach your New Year’s Resolution goals.

It is widely believed that low-carbohydrate, high-fat diets support weight loss in most individuals and indeed, there is a good amount of research to back this claim. Despite this, few studies have examined the after effects of a low-carb diet, particularly once normal eating is resumed.

In a new study, scientists had rats consume either a regular high-carb diet or a low-carb, high-fat diet for sixteen days. After this period the diets were switched and rats were maintained on the opposite diet for another sixteen days. Both diets included the same number of calories, so the only difference between the groups was the relative percentage of macronutrients.

As you might expect, while the rats were fed a low-carb, high-fat diet they lost weight compared to rats on a regular diet. Interestingly, however, despite this loss of body weight there was little to no loss of fat, and therefore the rats that lost weight had a relatively higher body fat percentage than the rats fed a normal diet.

The low-carb rats also had lower energy expenditure (exercise and calorie burning) than rats on a normal diet, and the decrease persisted even when the animals were returned to a normal diet. This is consistent with reports of exhaustion in humans undergoing very low-carb diet regimens.

Furthermore, animals that were temporarily put on a low-carb diet regained more weight than animals that were never fed a low-carb diet. This suggests that short term exposure to a low-carb diet increases risk of weight gain compared to no dieting.

Uh oh.

According to this research it is possible that a low-carb diet may actually cause you to gain weight in the long run. How very unfortunate.

But while these results are compelling, do not go stocking up on pasta just yet. First remember that these are rats, not humans. The way scientists change the composition of a rat’s diet is by giving them different pellets of bizarre lab food with various proportions of “nutrients.” This is not the way humans eat (assuming you don’t spend too much time in GNC), nor can it ever reflect a healthy human diet. It would be great if they could put the rats on a diet of seasonal fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and fatty fish, but that is not the way animal research works. This is something to keep in mind whenever you hear about nutrition studies.

Also, nutrition research using rodents rarely distinguishes between the qualities of different macronutrients. For example, did the “high-fat” diet contain mostly saturated fat, trans fat, monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats or all of the above? A similar question can be asked about the quality of carbohydrates, but it is difficult to imagine high-quality carbohydrates coming in pellet form. A huge body of scientific literature suggests that the quality of different macronutrients is far more important to health and weight than relative proportions of refined macronutrients.

Protein is another question mark in this study, which the authors acknowledge. The low-carb diet they used was not high in protein like a typical Atkins style diet. However, their findings were similar to studies that did use higher protein content and their animals were fed sufficient protein to maintain normal body growth, so the effect of protein on their findings is likely to be small. Their goal was to examine the effect of extreme carbohydrate restriction, and this was accomplished.

Regardless of this study’s imperfections, the results shine an interesting light on our current understanding of how relative proportions of dietary macronutrients effect body composition, long-term body weight and metabolism.

Have you experienced weight gain after going off a low-carb diet?

UPDATE: This article is also available at Synapse.

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