Avocados: nutritious but high in calories

Avocados sure taste good, and they've got a lot of important nutrients. (One fellow I know who used to be a serious alcoholic told me that how he survived his worst times with this health largely intact was to eat an avocado a day, which is an interesting story but not a hypothesis I recommend testing.)

Ask Well: Are Avocados Good for You? (Well)

Several clinical trials have reported that diets that incorporate avocado may help lower levels of L.D.L., or “bad,” cholesterol, because the fruit contains plant sterols called phytosterols that compete with cholesterol for absorption in the intestines. One small clinical trial found that women with Type 2 diabetes who followed a diet rich in monounsaturated fats, including those from avocados, had lower triglyceride levels. Another small trial suggested avocados may improve vascular health and have anti-inflammatory effects. Some papers have reported that an extract made of avocado and soybean oils may alleviate pain from osteoarthritis, but a 2003 systematic review concluded that the data were mixed.


But one drawback to avocados is their high calorie count, about 250 calories per fruit, Dr. Kris-Etherton said. “So people have to be careful – they can’t just add an avocado a day to a bad diet and see health benefits.”

The corruption of nutritional science by corporate sponsorships

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Conflicts of Interest | (

The American Dietetic Association (ADA)...promote[s] a series of Nutrition Fact Sheets. Who writes them? Industry sources pay $20,000 per fact sheet to the ADA and explicitly take part in writing the documents; the ADA then promotes them through its scientific journal and on its website. Some of these fact sheets are “What’s a Mom to Do: Healthy Eating Tips for Families” sponsored and co-written by Wendy’s; “Lamb: The Essence of Nutrient Rich Flavor,” sponsored by the Tri-Lamb Group; “Cocoa and Chocolate: Sweet News” sponsored by the Hershey Center for Health and Nutrition; “Eggs: A Good Choice” sponsored by the American Egg Board’s Egg Nutrition Center...


When the American Academy of Family Physicians was called out on their proud new corporate relationship with Coke to support patient education on healthy eating, an executive vice-president of the Academy tried to quell protest by explaining that this alliance was not without precedent. The American Academy of Family Physicians has had relationships with Pepsi and McDonald’s for some time....


In 2012, the American Dietetic Association changed their name to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Did their policies change at all? After all, they now have nutrition in their name. A landmark report last year from one of my favorite industry watchdogs, found that they continue to take millions of dollars in corporate sponsorship money every year from meat, processed junk, dairy, soda, and candy bar companies, and in return offer official educational seminars to teach dietitians what to say to their clients. So when you hear the title “registered dietitian", this is the group they are registered with.

Harvard study of teens links soft-drink consumption to violence | Harvard Magazine

A study of over 18,000 Boston public high school students show that those who were heavy soda drinkers were more prone to violent behavior. (And "heavy" in this context only means five or more sodas in a week.) Harvard study of teens links soft-drink consumption to violence

Other studies have linked soda consumption with depression and suicidal behavior, but Hemenway is not aware of anyone else studying the correlation with violent behavior. One further avenue for research is elucidating the underlying mechanism. It could be that a third variable, such as the quality of parenting, influences both soda consumption and aggressive behavior. (The researchers attempted to control for socioeconomic status and the quality of parenting; when they did, the correlation remained strong.) If there is a cause-effect relationship, the researchers speculate that excess caffeine and sugar (along with the subsequent blood-sugar crash) may leave soda drinkers irritable and prone to aggression; or maybe those who drink soda in place of healthier food miss out on nutrients that promote a calmer demeanor.

Low-Calorie Diet Doesn’t Prolong Life, Study of Monkeys Finds

The idea of caloric restriction as a life-extension strategy has been around for a while, but the evidence has never been good. Here's another blow against it.

Low-Calorie Diet Doesn’t Prolong Life, Study of Monkeys Finds

In a long-running study, rhesus monkeys whose caloric intake was restricted by 30 percent didn’t live any longer than their normal-weight peers.

Giving babies antibiotics could lead to obesity: study (Yahoo! News) Tom Swiss Tue, 08/21/2012 - 11:58

Giving babies antibiotics could lead to obesity: study (Yahoo! News)

Giving babies antibiotics before the age of six months could cause them to be chubby children, according to a study published Tuesday.

"We typically consider obesity an epidemic grounded in unhealthy diet and exercise, yet increasingly studies suggest it's more complicated," said co-author Leonardo Trasande of the New York University School of Medicine.

"Microbes in our intestines may play critical roles in how we absorb calories, and exposure to antibiotics, especially early in life, may kill off healthy bacteria that influence how we absorb nutrients into our bodies, and would otherwise keep us lean."

Lawyers of Big Tobacco Lawsuits Take Aim at Food Industry

This could get interesting. From the New York Times: Lawyers of Big Tobacco Lawsuits Take Aim at Food Industry

More than a dozen lawyers who took on the tobacco companies have filed 25 cases against industry players like ConAgra Foods, PepsiCo, Heinz, General Mills and Chobani that stock pantry shelves and refrigerators across America.

The suits, filed over the last four months, assert that food makers are misleading consumers and violating federal regulations by wrongly labeling products and ingredients.

Walnuts 'improve sperm health' (BBC News)

Chinese Medicine has long seen walnuts as a yang tonic, capable of promoting male sexual health. BBC News reports on research suggesting that walnuts can improve sperm quality, possibly due to their content of a-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid.
Walnuts 'improve sperm health' (BBC News)

Eating around two handfuls of walnuts a day improves sperm health in young men, a study in the journal Biology of Reproduction suggests.

Sperm shape, movement and vitality improved in men who added walnuts to their diet over 12 weeks.

The fatty acids found in these nuts are thought to have helped sperm development. It is not known if this would help improve male fertility.

Saving Lives In Africa With The Humble Sweet Potato : NPR (

I've been saying for years that GM crops like "golden rice" were a stupid (though profitable for Big Ag) solution to vitamin A deficiency, and that growing crops naturally rich in vitamin A was a much more effective and sustainable solution. Now the International Potato Center is on the case From NPR's blog "The Salt":

""This potato is healthier," one of the sellers, Jaume Otavio Martin, tells me. "It has more vitamins. These are the sweet potatoes that people want to eat, now. That's why I grow them. They're more profitable." About a third of all the sweet potatoes in Mozambique, Andrade says, now are orange. Recently, scientists gathered evidence from Mozambique and Uganda that these vegetables are, in fact, improving people's lives. Children who are eating them do have more vitamin A in their blood. Based on other studies of the effects of vitamin A, nutritionists are confident that the boost is big enough to improve the health of those children."

Saving Lives In Africa With The Humble Sweet Potato : NPR (

In Africa, a nutrition success story: Swapping orange sweet potatoes for white ones is improving the health of children by boosting vitamin A levels. Researchers are now trying to duplicate their success with other crops.

On The Road To Olympic Gold, Kenyan Marathoners Fuel Up On Carbs : NPR (

NPR's "The Salt" blog reports on the plant-based high-carb diet of some of the fittest people on the planet: On The Road To Olympic Gold, Kenyan Marathoners Fuel Up On Carbs

And they eat pretty healthy, as do most Kenyans who have food. As I looked at the lean, quiet, sinewy young men and women sitting down to dinner, I saw plates piled high with carbohydrates.

"It's just normal Kenyan food — vegetables, spaghetti, ugali," said Wilson Kipsang, captain of the Kenyan marathon team.

The national dish, ugali, is a corn mush made from cornmeal and water that has the consistency of mashed potatoes and almost no taste; Kenyans usually sop it into whatever else is on the plate. Githeri is a mixture of boiled corn and kidney beans. Sukuma wiki is chopped boiled kale, which desperately needs Tabasco sauce. The competitive runners seldom eat meat. Beans supply most of their protein. For a snack, the runners eat roasted corn on the cob. No salt.

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