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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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Freakishly Good Japanese-Style Shiso Pesto Recipe

by | Jul 29, 2013
Shiso Pesto With Shrimp

Shiso Pesto With Shrimp

The first time I had shiso I was at a sushi bar in San Francisco. At the time it was the best sushi I’d ever had, but it wasn’t just about the fish. Every now and then a new flavor, one I had never tasted before, would fill my mouth with happiness. It was a fresh flavor, almost like mint, but richer, more earthy and, at the same time, ethereal.

I asked the chef what I was tasting and he explained it was a Japanese herb called shiso (also called green perilla). Ever since that day I had been on a mission to find a place to buy it so I could use it at home. Occasionally I’d find shiso at a Japanese market, but always in small quantities and often at steep prices. Not an ideal situation for a shiso fiend.

I’d always wanted to have a more regular supply of shiso, and this year I finally had the opportunity when I started my first garden. To my delight our shiso plant thrived. Or more accurately: exploded.

Shiso Leaves

Shiso Leaves

For the last few weeks I’ve had shiso coming out my ears and have been using it in salads, stir fries and everything else I could think of. It’s been awesome, but I still had barely dented the towering shiso bush that was taking over my garden. I needed to figure out a way to use a huge bunch of it so it wouldn’t go bad. And fast.

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For The Love Of Food

by | Mar 23, 2012

For The Love of Food

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

Why eating vegetables is cheaper than eating at McDonald’s, there are worse things than white rice and the best reason I’ve ever heard to go to the gym.

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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Soy: Good or Evil? – Episode 10 – Summer Tomato Live

by | Jul 28, 2011

Last week we talked about the pros and cons of eating soy including it’s role in breast cancer and it’s affect on the, errr, manly arts.

As always, show notes are below.

July 19, 2011 | Tonight on Summer Tomato Live we’re discussing soy. Some say it prevents cancer, others think it promotes it, and some claim it’s evil for causing man boobs. We’ll get to the bottom of these issues and more today during the show.

Join us at 6:00pm PST to learn about how soy affects your health and what to do about it.

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.

See you soon!

Show notes:

Relevant links:

Probiotics and Fermented Foods – Episode 6

Seaweed, salt and iodine – Office Hours (it’s in there I swear)

Cholesterol Explained

Chinese food safety issues

Healthy Vegetarian and Vegan Diets

Miso

Soy sauce

Someone asked during the show how this advice applies to soy sauce. Turns out there are 2 different methods of brewing soy sauce. The traditional way is fermented and has the same attributes as fermented soy products mentioned in the episode. The other method creates the sauces by hydrolyzing soy, which creates a number of unwanted byproducts including MSG and potentially some carcinogenic chemicals. The Wikipedia article on soy sauce is very informative.

Breast cancer

Meta-analysis of soy intake and breast cancer risk

Soy isoflavones consumption and risk of breast cancer incidence or recurrence: a meta-analysis of prospective studies

Epidemiology of soy exposures and breast cancer risk

Soyfood intake in the prevention of breast cancer risk in women: a meta-analysis of observational epidemiological studies

Prostate cancer

Soy consumption and prostate cancer risk in men: a revisit of a meta-analysis

What about demasculizing men?

One of the biggest fears men have about eating soy is the possibility of phytoestrogens demasculizing men, creating sexual dysfunction, infertility and the dreaded man boobs.

Indeed, there have been several studies in rodents suggesting that soy can interfere with reproductive pathways and fertility. However, human and monkey studies show that most men have no need to fear soy.

Acute exposure of adult male rats to dietary phytoestrogens reduces fecundity and alters epididymal steroid hormone receptor expression.

Clinical studies show no effects of soy protein or isoflavones on reproductive hormones in men: results of a meta-analysis

Soybean isoflavone exposure does not have feminizing effects on men: a critical examination of the clinical evidence

Dietary soy protein containing isoflavonoids does not adversely affect the reproductive tract of male cynomolgus macaques (Macaca fascicularis)

Hypogonadism and erectile dysfunction associated with soy product consumption

Osteoporosis

Soy isoflavone intake inhibits bone resorption and stimulates bone formation in menopausal women: meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

Effect of long-term intervention of soy isoflavones on bone mineral density in women: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

Heart disease

Soy protein effects on serum lipoproteins: a quality assessment and meta-analysis of randomized, controlled studies

Non-soy legume consumption lowers cholesterol levels: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

Relation between soy-associated isoflavones and LDL and HDL cholesterol concentrations in humans: a meta-analysis

The effect of soy protein with or without isoflavones relative to milk protein on plasma lipids in hypercholesterolemic postmenopausal women.

Association of dietary intake of soy, beans, and isoflavones with risk of cerebral and myocardial infarctions in Japanese populations: the Japan Public Health Center-based (JPHC) study cohort I.

Notably, this was not convincing enough for the American Heart Association

A Statement for Healthcare Professionals From the Nutrition Committee of the AHA

Thyroid issues

If you have moderate hypothyroid issues, it may be prudent to restrict your soy intake to low levels.

The effect of soy phytoestrogen supplementation on thyroid status and cardiovascular risk markers in patients with subclinical hypothyroidism: a randomized, double-blind, crossover study

Effects of soy protein and soybean isoflavones on thyroid function in healthy adults and hypothyroid patients: a review of the relevant literature.

Impact of flavonoids on thyroid function

Memory/cognitive effects of soy

High Tofu Intake Is Associated with Worse Memory in Elderly Indonesian Men and Women

Borobudur revisited: soy consumption may be associated with better recall in younger, but not in older, rural Indonesian elderly.

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Probiotics & Fermented Foods – Episode 6 – Summer Tomato Live [video]

by | May 10, 2011

Thanks to those of you who participated in last week’s show on Probiotics & Fermented Foods, it was a great discussion. You can find the show notes below.

The next episode is scheduled for Tuesday, May 24 @ 6:30pm PST. We’ll be discussing Weight Loss Tips & Tricks. If you’d like to participate, sign up by this Friday, May 13, to receive the first month of Tomato Slice for free.

May 1, 2011 | What is the scientific evidence behind eating fermented foods or pre- and probiotics, and what are the best sources?

Tune in today at 1pm PST to join our live discussion about probiotics.

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:

In an attempt to answer Aisha’s question about whether sauerkraut (or kimchi) goes bad I’ve done a bit of reading and haven’t found much. Most evidence suggests that unopened and submerged in brine it is good almost indefinitely. However, once it is open I haven’t seen much evidence that it goes “bad,” but it might not be as pleasant.

Because it is fermented it is unlikely to experience much rot, so I would judge by color, smell and your own personal comfort level. Obviously anything with a physical growth or mold should be tossed.

If anyone else has any insight please share.

References:

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