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Vegetarians in Paradise

Vegetarianism in the News

December 1, 2008 -- Vegparadise News Bureau

Don't Put Yourself on the AOL Hitlist!

Don't put yourself on the AOL Hitlist. That hitlist is similar to a Mafia execution but differs in one important aspect: you, the victim, sign a contract for your own destruction.

How does one get on the Hitlist? Simple. Just go to AOL Health. We didn't realize that AOL Health was such a menace until a VIP subscriber sent us a link to MENSFITNESSCENTER at http://www.aolhealth.com/diet/men-fitness/healthy-fat-foods.

At this site, AOL has signed its own unholy contract with Men's Health magazine to decimate dazed and confused American men who are seeking tips on maintaining good health. The article that had us in a cold sweat was called "Fat Foods You Can Eat." The opening paragraph made us feel the need to rush to the emergency room and demand to be put on a gurney and hooked up to a heart monitor and lifesaving equipment.

It began with these frightening words: "For years you've heard that eating saturated fat is like pouring superglue into your arteries. But the fact is, this forbidden fat actually increases your HDL (good) cholesterol, which helps remove plaque from your artery walls, decreasing your risk of heart disease. So quit depriving yourself and start eating these eight foods -- without guilt."

Their list of eight "Okay" foods, swimming in fat and cholesterol, appear to be an inducement compiled by a local undertaker anxious to improve his business. So now we can eat butter, beef, poultry, pork, eggs, cheese, coconut, and sour cream to improve our health and make us feel good also. We no longer have to listen to those so-called health experts who are trying to convince us that these are unhealthful foods.

1. Butter

Sliding into the top position on the list of good stuff is butter. The writer admits that butter "contains a significant amount of saturated fat." As if we didn't know, he calls this "animal fat" the same stuff found in beef, bacon, and chicken skin. And then he writes, "This is natural fat that men and women have eaten for thousands of years." He then explains that fat like that in butter helps your body absorb the antioxidants found in vegetables. This health guru then advises you to go ahead and eat butter without feeling guilty.

What do we say?
Even the Hitmen at Men's Health should know that all that fat and cholesterol doesn't do a body good. According to the Cleveland Clinic Heart and Vascular Institute, "The problem with butter is that it contains two cholesterol-raising ingredients: dietary cholesterol and saturated fat."

In an article titled "Butter vs. Margarine," the clinic's online dietician explains that some people can consume large amounts of foods high in cholesterol without affecting their blood cholesterol while others will find consuming a small amount of foods with cholesterol will make their blood cholesterol levels soar.

The National Dairy Council will be delighted to send a check to the magazine, if they haven't done so already. Product placement, anyone?

2. Beef

If you avoid that red meat because it's loaded with saturated fat, this article suggests your doctor and the entire medical profession don't know what's good for you. Half of the fat in beef is supposed to be monounsaturated fat called oleic acid. This, the author says is "the same heart-healthy fat found in olive oil." The clincher in this story is that "most of the saturated fat in beef actually decreases your heart-disease risk--either by lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol, or by reducing your ratio of total cholesterol to HDL (good) cholesterol." Then he points out that beef has important nutrients like iron, zinc, and B vitamins.

What do we say?
"A Prospective Study of Red and Processed Meat Intake in Relation to Cancer Risk, " reported in the December 2007 issue of PLoS Medicine, revealed the dark side of eating meat. A team from the National Institutes of Health and AARP conducted the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study beginning in 1995-1996 and involved 500,000 people aged 50 to 71. The study tracked the participants for eight years and recorded 53, 396 cases of cancer during that period.

The researchers found that people whose red meat consumption was in the highest fifth intake of those studied had an increased risk of developing colorectal, liver, lung, and esophageal cancer when compared with people in the lowest fifth intake group. "The highest category of red meat was those consuming the equivalent of a quarter pound hamburger or a small steak or a pork chop per day," said Amanda Cross, lead study author and epidemiologist at the National Cancer Institute.

People with the highest processed meat intake had an increased risk of developing colorectal and lung cancer. For processed meat, the highest category was the equivalent of four slices of bacon per day, while the lowest category was no more than one slice. "Our findings for colorectal cancer are consistent with the recommendations from the recently published World Cancer Research Fund and American Institute for Cancer Research to limit consumption of red meats, such as beef, pork and lamb," said Cross. "Our study also suggests that individuals consuming high quantities of red meat may be at an elevated risk for esophageal, liver and lung cancer."

And then there's the other side.

The National Cattlemen's Beef Association and Cattlemen's Beef Board sponsor a Human Nutrition Research Program that is funded by a Beef Checkoff Program established as part of the 1985 Farm Bill. This Checkoff Program assesses one dollar per head of cattle. Half of this assessment goes to the states while the other half goes the Cattlemen's Beef Promotion and Research Board. The group is "focused on communicating accurate information about beef's nutritional qualities and the role of beef in a healthful diet. That includes providing factual, scientifically supported information about beef and supporting recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPyramid, that a balanced diet, variety and moderation, coupled with appropriate physical activity provides the foundation for a healthful life."

Their website at http://www.beefnutrition.org/nutritionresearch.aspx has the following articles that can be downloaded:

  • Lean Beef and Heart Health (PDF)
  • Stearic Acid - A Unique Saturated Fat (PDF)
  • Conjugated Linoleic Acid and Dietary Beef - An Update (PDF)
  • Beef Lipids in Perspective (PDF)

Reading the Men's Health program and these beef nutrition articles, one comes away with the feeling that all were paid for by the same people. More product placement?

3. Poultry

You guessed it. Chicken is another one of those food choices that is touted as good for you because it has "high quality protein" and is filled with that good old saturated fat. By this time, you know that saturated fat, just like that stuff in beef, is good for your tired old blood vessels. But ignore your nutritionist who tells you to avoid the dark meat and the skin. "Neither raises your risk for heart disease."

What do we say?
Dr. Joel Fuhrman in his book Eat to Live writes, "Chicken has about the same amount of cholesterol as beef, and the production of those cancer causing compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) are even more concentrated in grilled chicken than in beef. Another recent study from New Zealand that investigated heterocyclic amines in meat, fish, and chicken found the greatest contributor of HCAs to cancer risk was chicken. Likewise, studies indicate that chicken is almost as dangerous as red meat for the heart. Regarding cholesterol, there is no advantage to eating lean white instead of lean red meat."

Besides, eating too much chicken might just turn you into one dumb cluck.

4. Pork

Because of the National Pork Board, everyone knows that pork is the "other white meat." But according to this article, a slice of pork loin contains less fat than a chicken breast. Since the author feels that less fat is not good, people can seek ham and bacon instead because as obese chef Emeril Lagasse says, "Pork fat rules." Pork fat is Okay in the details of the TNT Diet that aren't mentioned in this article. You have to go elsewhere in the Men's Health archive to learn that TNT stands for Targeted Nutrition Tactics to build muscle and lose fat simultaneously, "a feat most nutritionists tell you is impossible."

The health enthusiasts reading the article are warned about the sodium and nitrates in cured meats like bacon and ham that can raise blood pressure and possibly cause cancer. They should choose fresh meats that contain no preservatives.

What do we say?
Researchers at the University of Ottawa have linked pork consumption with cirrhosis, a chronic degeneration of the liver.

In a study of 16 nations with readily available statistics for consumption of pork, beef, alcohol, and fat, Dr. Amin Nanji and Dr. Samuel French found a correlation between eating pork and the incidence of cirrhosis of the liver--an even higher incidence when both pork and alcohol were consumed. In their Lancet article No connection was found between cirrhosis and beef consumption. The researchers said that the way in which pork consumption 'might cause or enhance' cirrhosis remains a mystery. Yet the team concludes that cirrhosis mortality directly relates to the amount of pork consumed. Cirrhosis of the liver is one of the 10 leading causes of death in the U.S.

5. Eggs

According to this article, eggs are a perfect food filled with essential vitamins and minerals. They contain choline that helps your body break down fat for increased energy. They benefit the eyes by providing antioxidants like lutein and zeoxanthin that work to prevent cataracts and macular degeneration.

A study conducted by scientists at St. Louis University in 2005 found that people who ate eggs as part of their breakfast ate fewer calories the rest of the day. Those who ate the eggs were compared with others who ate bagels for breakfast.

What do we say?
In contrast, we uncovered a study by Harvard Medical School Researchers who found that middle-aged men who ate seven or more eggs a week had a higher risk of earlier death. Men with diabetes who ate any eggs at all raised their risk of death, according to a report published in the April 2008 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Another researcher at Wake Forest University found no connection between egg consumption and heart disease in his study, "A Review of Scientific Research and Recommendations Regarding Eggs." The author of this study turns out to be Stephen B. Kritchevsky, PhD, who serves on the Egg Nutrition Council's Scientific Advisory Board.

6. Cheese

Cheese is praised for being a great diet food because it's high in protein and fat and keeps a person full. It's so convenient because you can eat it right out of the package or use it "to add flavor to any dish."

What do we say?
In his book, Breaking the Food Seduction, Dr. Neal Barnard writes, "In meat, most cholesterol is in the lean portion. Cheese has cholesterol, too, in hefty amounts. There are about 50-60 milligrams of cholesterol in a 2-ounce serving of cheddar or mozzarella. Ounce for ounce, that's as much as you'll find in steak or ground beef."

Sodium, prevalent in cheese, is implicated in raising blood pressure and contributing to osteoporosis. Two ounces of cheddar cheese contains approximately 350 milligrams of sodium.

That friendly, cholesterol-laden slice of fatty cheese parked between two slices of white bread is close to #1 on our Hitlist, and ain't gonna do your body good. And remember to hold the pizza, please!

7. Coconut

Because coconut has more saturated fat than butter, nutritionists have cautioned that consuming large amount could lead to adverse health effects. The writer says coconut has beneficial effects on heart disease risk. More than 50% of the sat fat is lauric acid that raises bad cholesterol (LDL) but also ups good cholesterol (HDL). "Overall it decreases your risk of cardiovascular disease."

What do we say?
Surprise! We'll stick with the health experts on this one.

8. Sour Cream

Sour cream has a bad rap because 90% of its calories are derived from fat, half of those saturated. A two-tablespoon serving of sour cream is 52 calories, just half the calories in a tablespoon of mayonnaise and less saturated fat than you would ingest in a 12-ounce glass of 2% fat milk. Of course, the fat in sour cream is natural animal fat, not dangerous trans fat.

What do we say?
In an article that's praising animal fat, why is the guru suddenly concerned about choosing sour cream as a lower-fat alternative to mayonnaise or milk? Where's the logic here? Dr. Fuhrman would differ with the writer who makes a big distinction between "natural animal fat" and dangerous trans fat. "The most dangerous for both heart disease and cancer are saturated fats and trans fatty acids. You would be foolish not to carefully avoid these," says Dr. Fuhrman.

Summing Up

We're convinced that AOL and Men's Health are a combined menace to national health by resurrecting the Atkins Diet and giving it the code name TNT.

The TNT Diet and its dynamite results are detailed in the book, Men's Health TNT Diet: the Explosive New Plan to Blast Fat, Build Muscle, and Get Healthy in 12 Weeks by Jeff Volek and Adam Campbell. Volek is an assistant professor in the Human Performance Laboratory at the University of Connecticut.

The Aha moment for us came when we learned that Volek is a member of the Atkins Board of Scientific Advisers. In the article, Volek or one of his disciples tells us, "When you follow the TNT Diet, your health and body composition results will be every bit as impressive with these foods as without--so why deny your taste buds?"

Dr. Atkins must be smiling in his grave when he hears this Men's Health advice: "Remember, eating more fat -- not less -- is the key in helping you automatically reduce your calorie intake, without feeling deprived."

We're quite exhausted reading this fat barrage from AOL Men's Health. Anyone packing all eight Okay foods into the diet might as well lie down on the tracks and wait for the next train or keep a team of cardiologists and oncologists on standby.

Shame on you, AOL, for peddling this phony health claptrap and taking out a contract on the lives of your subscribers!


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