By: John Verlinden*/TRT Columnist—
Some recent food and nutrition studies brought to mind that old Woody Allen movie Sleeper. In it, Allen plays a health food store owner who was cryogenically frozen in 1973 and is defrosted 200 years later. In one scene, the scientists treating him tell us that wheat germ and organic honey, thought to be good for us, are not, and that by 2173 they’ve discovered that the healthiest foods are things deep fried, steak, cream pies and hot fudge.
While we’re not quite there yet, there were some surprises in recent research reports. Saturated fat in meat, butter and cheese may not be so bad for our hearts after all. Study participants who ate higher levels of saturated fat did not have more heart disease that those who ate less, and those who ate higher amounts of “healthy” unsaturated fats—olive oil or vegetable oil—did not have less disease. [pullquote]Saturated fat in meat, butter and cheese may not be so bad for our hearts after all. Study participants who ate higher levels of saturated fat did not have more heart disease that those who ate less, and those who ate higher amounts of “healthy” unsaturated fats—olive oil or vegetable oil—did not have less disease.[/pullquote]
Salt may not be quite as bad as previously thought. This study concluded that Americans still need to reduce their salt consumption, but we may not need to cut it in half as current guidelines suggest. In addition, beer is apparently good for us. It may help the body in several ways, including lowering LDL—the bad cholesterol—increasing the good HDL, building strong bones and even reducing the risk of kidney stones. I’ll have another IPA, please.
Lastly, is even better than we thought. Study participants who exercised and ate lots of chocolate were thinner than those who exercised, but ate less chocolate. I wonder how hard it would be to install an M&M dispenser on the treadmill?
Of course, there has been lots of “push back” on these findings. Other scientists argue that samples were too small and methodologies were flawed, but these studies once again illustrate that nutrition science continues to evolve. We’re learning more all the time, but figuring out how the foods we eat impact our individual bodies remains very complex.
For now, I recommend that we accept and add these findings to our own personal nutrition knowledge bank along with a healthy dose of skepticism and stay tuned. There will be many additional studies and analyses that will attempt to duplicate, fine tune or dispute these results. In the meantime, I continue to believe that the old adage of “moderation in all things,” including butter, salt, beer and chocolate, is probably still the best advice.
To share your thoughts about these or other nutrition studies, ask a question or suggest a topic for a future article, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.muchogusto.com and join our Latin food forum.
Until next time—¡Mucho Gusto!, ¡Muchas Gracias! y ¡Buen Provecho!