Sugar: The Bitter Truth

Do you agree? This is a 1.5 hour long lecture by Robert Lustig, MD. Pretty interesting! Worth the watch if you have the time.


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“Irresponsible” Time Magazine Article

A thread popped up recently pointing to this “irresponsible” article from Time Magazine. Here’s the thread.

I do agree that this article is largely irresponsible. Basically, it points to people that exercise and subsequently eat too much thinking that they’ve “earned it”; the article is saying that these people gain weight, thus exercise makes people gain weight. Yes, sure, that does happen. But I think that is a gross oversimplification of the exercise/weight issue. There are so many factors (genetics, efficiency, previous experience, diet) that you can’t simply make that sort of deduction. Anyway, check it out and let me know what you think!

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Why Are Thin People Not Fat? – BBC Special

Whether you agree with it or not, it’s a very interesting special – well worth the watch, if you have the time. If you don’t, make sure to bookmark this and come back later – I’d highly recommend that you’d watch this. Good “food for thought” – excuse the pun. Anyway, I tend to be skeptical about part 5. Still, come to your own conclusion.

Part 1 –

Part 2 –

Part 3 –

Part 4 –

Part 5 –

Part 6 –


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Quick Post: What would you like to see?

I know that I occasionally get some readers so I’d like their input. What do you want to see on BLTN? I’d also like comments, questions and complaints!

It’s not that I’m lacking ideas – I’m not (really). But I’d like to know what people want to read/read about! That way I can better please my “audience.”


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Good Trans Fats vs Bad Trans Fats

Yes, there are good trans fats.

Isn’t that an odd statement? It’s become practically common knowledge that trans fats are “evil.” The nutrition industry has demonized trans fats over the past few years, leading to the slow but steady elimination of partially hydrogenated oils from the food market. Good! They should be removed from our food, and they are unhealthy. But trans fats can be good for you. That is the problem with reductionist science; oversimplification of the issue at hand results in faulty conclusions. For example, take a look at this short Harvard article regarding fats. It essentially commands you to get rid of both saturated and trans fats. That’s ridiculous! Saturated fats are an essential macronutrient – you couldn’t survive without them.

Similarly, you can’t just get rid of trans fats from your diet. Trans fats is the term that refers to any fats with a strucuture similar to the carbon chain on the right:The type of trans fatty acids produced via industrial hydrogenation are bad for you, absolutely. That seems to be a fairly concrete fact. And it shouldn’t be surprising – it’s a type of fat that rarely if ever is seen in nature – we haven’t evolved to effectively process it. As a result, it gums up our arteries, resulting in increased  chances of heart disease.

However, there IS a trans fatty acid that occurs in nature. Conjugated linoleic acid – CLA – is a trans fat that has been associated with lower rates of cancer and decreased storage of body fat. To be fair, there are also studies that do not find positive benefits. It seems silly, however, to group CLA in with partially hydrogenated oils by using the overarching term “trans fats.”

Essentially, demonizing “trans fats” instead of partially hydrogenated oils – or at the very least, failing to make that distinction – is a reductionist error that will result in the careless elimination of another ‘good’ macronutrient from our diets.


More info in this fairly neutrally-written powerpoint. Other sources linked above.

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I know I’ve been neglecting you recently, blog. You have to understand, my life has really gotten hectic the past couple of weeks, especially now that I’m ramping up mileage in preparation for training camp and also tying up multitudes of loose ends here at the FDA as I complete my summer work. Basically, blog, it’s not you, it’s me. I promise, however, that I will write something of significance tomorrow. Not only that, but I will find time to get at least one of the many post ideas that has been floating around in my head actually on digital paper.

Thanks for understanding, blog. I hope I haven’t hurt your feelings.

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Dark Chocolate and You

Dark chocolate is great. I used to only like milk chocolate (and of course, I still do) – but I believe if you get a good dark chocolate, it can be as or more enjoyable than a nice milk chocolate. Dark chocolate also has health benefits that milk chocolate doesn’t have (this always pops up in the news, as if it’s a new discovery).

Why is dark chocolate healthy? Let’s take a look. Researchers are still trying to elucidate the exact mechanism of action, but there is a lot of evidence to back up dark chocolate’s health benefits. There seem to be several antioxidants in dark chocolate that are absorbed into the bloodstream with relative ease. These antioxidants promote a lower blood pressure (usually a good thing, especially for those of us with the typical Western diet). For example: epicatechin, an antioxidant found in cocoa (a cocoa phenol), can be found in the blood post-chocolate consumption. If the chocolate is dark – these antioxidant levels are particularly high. However, the blood level is much lower if the dark chocolate is consumed with milk, or if the chocolate is milk chocolate. I’m unsure as to why this is the case, but I would propose that it may be some chelation of the antioxidant – similar to the reason iron doesn’t absorb well in the presence of calcium. But I digress; the important thing is that you keep your milk and your chocolate seperate if you’re looking for health benefits!

Two different studies, via WebMD:

Taubert’s team signed up six men and seven women aged 55-64. All had just been diagnosed with mild high blood pressure — on average, systolic blood pressure (the top number) of 153 and diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) of 84.

Every day for two weeks, they ate a 100-gram candy bar and were asked to balance its 480 calories by not eating other foods similar in nutrients and calories. Half the patients got dark chocolate and half got white chocolate.

Those who ate dark chocolate had a significant drop in blood pressure (by an average of 5 points for systolic and an average of 2 points for diastolic blood pressure). Those who ate white chocolate did not.

In the second study, Serafini’s team signed up seven healthy women and five healthy men aged 25-35. On different days they each ate 100 grams of dark chocolate by itself, 100 grams of dark chocolate with a small glass of whole milk, or 200 grams of milk chocolate.

An hour later, those who ate dark chocolate alone had the most total antioxidants in their blood. And they had higher levels of epicatechin, a particularly healthy compound found in chocolate. The milk chocolate eaters had the lowest epicatechin levels of all.

As far as how much to eat on a daily basis? I’ve read everything from 1.6oz to 100g (~3.5oz). It’s up to you to decide, really. Can you afford the extra calories? Do you have room in your daily intake to eat that much? Do you even want to make dark chocolate a daily routine?

Whatever you decide, make sure that you enjoy what you eat – because that’s half the battle. What am I currently eating? Grenada Organic Dark Chocolate, from the Grenada Chocolate Company. Its a surprisingly good chocolate; smooth, creamy, but strong. It’s typically single origin (Grenadian cocoa), but it’s currently a double origin chocolate because a significant amount of Grenada’s cocoa trees were destroyed in Hurricane Ivan (2004). Hopefully they’ll be able to return to usual in the near future!

My go-to dark chocolate, however, is any of the Amano lines of dark chocolate, one of the few small chocolate producers in the US (most is produced by Hershey, Nestle, etc). This is brilliant chocolate – I discovered it through Wine.Woot (My favorite? The Jembrana and the sold-out Cuyagua). They will occasionally come onto Wine.woot with a coupon code, so that’s when I buy – it’s a very expensive chocolate otherwise; even with the discount it’s a steep price, but worth it.

Needless to say, I eat it sparingly – but then again I’m not trying to eat 1.6oz a day – that’s a lot of dark chocolate! I just want to eat what I feel like, and enjoy it while I do. What’s your favorite dark (or milk!) chocolate?


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