Friday, March 1, 2013

Superfoods And How Sugar, Not Fat, Makes You Fat

On The Leonard Lopate Show this week Dr. Drew Ramsey, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University, and co-author of The Happiness Diet and the forthcoming Fifty Shades of Kale, explains which foods are healthiest—from nuts to fish to olive oil to grass-fed beef—for our bodies and our brains.

He talks about how eating fat doesn't make you fat and debunks other food myths relating to cholesterol, vitamins, anti-oxidants, nuts and chocolate. Listen to the entire segment:

On The Leonard Lopate Show, producer Laurie David talks about the documentary Fed Up, which upends the conventional wisdom of why we gain weight and how to lose it. The film unearths the dirty little secret your favorite brands and restaurants don’t want you to know—far more of us get sick from what we eat than anyone ever realized and this is in largely due to added sugar in 80 percent of items sold in grocery stores. “Fed Up” opens May 9 at the Angelika.

“Exercise is essential for good health. But we can’t exercise our way out of the obesity epidemic. And if you just look at one small stat from the movie, which is a child who drinks one soda a day would have to be on a bicycle for an hour and 15 minutes to get rid of that soda,” Laurie David said. “There really aren’t enough hours in the day to exercise this food off.”

We should only be eating about 6-9 teaspoons of sugar a day, “But most of us are consuming about 22 teaspoons a day, which is an incredible amount of sugar. But the problem is, they’re not even aware they’re consuming it,” she said. “You don’t necessarily know you’re consuming sugar when you’re using store-bought salad dressing, or store-bought tomato sauce, or healthy granola bars. It’s added to all these foods.”

Although many people think that cutting down on fat will lead to weight loss, fat is not the problem—sugar is what causes people to gain weight. When the food industry created low-fat and nonfat versions of foods, they added sugar to those products to make up for the flavor lost when fat was removed. “Fed Up” shows how powerful food companies are and how they’ve taken advantage of the confusion about what constitutes a healthy diet. It also looks at the role advertising and marketing has worked to exacerbate the problems of obesity. “It’s outrageous that we allow these companies to market food that we know is unhealthy to children,” she said.

Nina Teicholz documents how the low-fat nutrition advice of the past 60 years has had disastrous consequences for our health in her book The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese belong in a Healthy Diet..

The idea that we should limit saturated fat from eggs, cheese and meat dates back to 1961, when the American Heart Association published that guideline. “The story of our dietary recommendations is really taking the dietary advice for middle-aged men, who were trying to prevent heart disease, and recommending it to all women and children over the age of 2.”

“There have been critics of this hypothesis all along…but they found that it was then hard to get research dollars.” The pressure was so intense, Teicholz says, “it got to a point where scientists would just self-censor, they just wouldn’t go into the field.”

Low-fat products often have more carbohydrates. “When they take out fat out of products like yogurt, salad dressing, they have to use what’s called fat replacers. And fat replacers are almost always carbohydrate-based and sometimes they’re just sugar.”

The best hypothesis today, Teicholz says, is that foods like sugar and flour – carbohydrates – could cause heart disease as well as diabetes and obesity.

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