Thursday, May 10, 2007

Don't Give Me The Fruit And Vegetable Copout

What's so glorious about encouraging fruit and vegetable intake?

When you finally come to the place where you realize how much everything you ever knew about diet and health was wrong when you started livin' la vida low-carb, it probably made you wonder what else you've always believed was true that might not be exactly as you have always thought.

Have you ever given serious thought about some things that are commonly believed to be "healthy?" Take, for example, eating fruits and vegetables. GASP! You can't start talking about NOT eating fruits and vegetables, Jimmy. Everyone KNOWS how healthy those are to your diet and removing them from your list of foods is just too extreme.


Nobody is thinking of completely removing ALL fruits and vegetables from your diet. Although there are some people who believe there is no benefit whatsoever to eating these foods on a low-carb diet, I am not one of them. Selective fruits and vegetables have their place for people who are livin' la vida low-carb, but it's not a free-for-all which I'll explain in this post.

Dealing with those who fall for supposedly common sense dietary ideas like eating more fruits and vegetables (borne out of a lack of adequate nutritional education) is something I've come to realize is a fact of life that will not go away easily (but I'm trying my darndest to change that with my blog).

I don't blame people who suffer from what I describe as "educated ignorance," but it is indeed holding us back from progressing forward as an enlightened society. If only people knew how harmful certain fruits and vegetables were to their body, they wouldn't be so quick to embrace them indiscriminately.

It's not so much that eating fruits and vegetables is an unhealthy thing for your body, per se, but you really need to qualify what you mean by "fruits and vegetables." Painting that category of foods in such a broad brush is not a very wise thing to do. Let me explain by showing you some jaw-dropping numbers from one of the leading health organizations in America.

When I was attending the Nutrition & Metabolism Society meeting in Nashville, Tennessee as part of the American Society of Bariatric Physicians (ASBP) obesity conference last weekend, a representative from the American Diabetes Association (ADA) shared a startling statistic about the proportion of vegetable consumption in the United States.

According to the report entitled "2006 ADA Nutrition Recommendations: Context of Dietary Trends" from 1999-2000, the following is the breakdown of the actual vegetables consumed by adults 20 years and over:

Fried potatoes-22%
Other potatoes-13%
Dark green/orange-11%

EEEEK! Over one-third of the vegetable consumption by adults is the high-carb potatoes, most of which is made up of French fries ostensibly from fast food restaurants like McDonald's. As much as you want to argue that a potato is a healthy vegetable, I would beg to differ. Not even if you chill it to lower the glycemic load can you convince me these spuds are something I need in my body. NEVER again!

There have been studies showing potatoes lead to higher incidence of diabetes which is why the potato industry has to create a cutesy cartoon character named Spuddy to make their unhealthy food seem more appealing, especially to children.

Speaking of children, check out the vegetable servings from that same ADA dietary trends report for children ages 2-19 years (don't pass out when you see this!):

Fried potatoes-46%
Other potatoes-10%
Dark green/orange-7%

Yes, you read that right! Almost two-thirds of the "healthy" vegetable consumption by the future of our society is made up of potatoes. SAY WHAT?! These extremely starchy, carb-loaded vegetables are as harmful to your child's weight and health as eating table sugar by the spoonful! Carbs, carbs, and more carbs. Oh yummy...NOT!

Can you see how the McDonald's culture has so gripped our nation's youth that nearly half of their vegetable intake is from French fries? Yikeseroo! And this is what I'm talking about when I say it's a copout to generically say "eat fruits and vegetables." Without a qualifying statement to explain what you mean, then that is not necessarily a good thing.

In fact, I think it should be criminal to make the claim that a potato is a vegetable. Here's the truth about potatoes--It's poison for your blood sugar! You don't need it, you'll never need it, and you won't miss having it. Trust me on this, you won't.

Instead, there are some VERY good vegetables that should be consumed as part of a healthy diet because they are non-starchy and provide some excellent nutrients for your body. These are the kind of veggies that contribute to the doubling of vegetable consumption on low-carb. They include, but aren't limited to:

Green leafy veggies like kale, spinach, and lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, asparagus, celery, and cabbage

Even vegetables like carrots, tomatoes, and onions are probably not a good idea when you are trying to lose weight on a low-carb nutritional approach. Add them back in limited quantities once you reach your goal weight, but avoid them to help keep your carb counts low enough to keep on losing weight and avoiding stalls. You'll be glad you did!

Okay, that's great for veggies, but what about fruits? Are there any a low-carber can eat? This is an interesting question that one of my readers asked me about in an e-mail this week. Here's what she wrote:

"Can you tell me if its okay to eat an apple each day on the low-carb diet along with some vegetables like salad? I eat lots of fish and meat. Or is the apple too sweet? I still need to lose weight and want to do what's best for me.

Am I better to skip the fruit for a while to lose weight? I love fruit but can manage without it as long as I have my veggies. Thanks for your help."

Very good question and I'm happy to answer it. As long as you stick to the non-starchy veggies I listed above, then you'll be okay. But the apple is probably not a good idea when you are losing weight. One apple has about 20g carbs consisting mostly of sugar. The worst fruit of all is a banana with close to 30g carbs, again LOADED with sugar. Not far behind are sugary raisins--are you seeing the trend here?

We all think that it's fruit, so it must be good for us. But these are clearly NOT healthy for you no matter how you slice it when you are livin' la vida low-carb. This is a wake-up call for a lot of people who THINK they're eating healthy.

If you just remember that sugar is not your friend on low-carb, regardless of the source, then you'll avoid the heartache of disappointment when your weight loss plan does not help you shed the pounds.

Another big no-no that a lot of people pretend is healthy for them and consider part of their fruit intake is orange juice. Did you know there is almost as much sugar in a glass of OJ as there is in a 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola?

Then you've got juice products like Sunny Delight and Juicy Juice which have tons of added sugars in them and it's a potent potion for sending your blood sugar on a tricky rollercoaster ride. Is that REALLY healthy for you? I don't think so.

Your body doesn't care if the sugar you take in comes from a supposedly "healthy" fruit or a candy bar, your blood sugar spikes in reaction to it the same way. Focusing on the low-glycemic (or low-sugar) fruits is key or even skip them altogether until you reach your weight loss goal.

The following list of fruits are encouraged and acceptable on the low-carb lifestyle:

Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, cantaloupe, and honeydew

Making the right choices as it relates to fruits and vegetables is an important distinction that is never made by the so-called health "experts" who advise to eat fruits and vegetables in unlimited quantities since they're so good for you. If most Americans are eating potatoes and bananas as well as drinking orange juice and grape juice, then is it any wonder why our nation is so fat and getting fatter by the moment? Chew on that one for a while.

So the next time you hear someone give you the "fruit and vegetable" copout excuse claiming they are eating healthy and you are eating unhealthy because you don't eat as much of those foods as they do, then you tell them that you're eating the RIGHT kind of fruits and vegetables for your healthy low-carb lifestyle. Then just stare at their face because it will be priceless! :)

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Blogger Science4u1959 said...

As usual, excellent advice, Jimmy.

Potatoes are indeed certainly not vegetables, but instead, tubers of the nightshade variety. And they certainly are not healthy on any diet. In fact the standard nonsense from know-nothing "experts" like dietitians is that "they are so healthy because of the vitamins". That's a load of you-know-what.

- First of all the vast majority of those vitamins are directly under the skin and are removed in the cleaning and peeling process.

- Second, after boiling or frying the bloody thing most of the remaining vitamins are completely destroyed and worthless.

- Third, the quality of the fibers is extremely low (like cooked carrots) and hence also worthless.

- Finally, one sure doesn't need the tons of starch (sugar!) that a potato contains.

These things are simply bad news on any diet. Interesting sideline here is the fact that when potatos were introduced in Europe, centuries ago, the French did not like them at all and considered them not suited for human consumption. These were fed to the pigs to fatten them, which works beautifully of course because the pigs metabolism does exactly the same as the human metabolism in this respect and stores the starch (sugars) as fat.

Only after a series of serious famines struck the nation the French were forced to eat the things. But they never held them in high esteem and they still don't. Personally, I never liked potatoes (I always hated boiled potatos the most) and I sure don't miss them.

5/11/2007 1:12 AM  
Blogger mrfritznyc said...

all that being said regarding the evils of spuds, I've found when I eat at a NYC steakhouse, which I do fairly often, I can get away with ordering a baked potatoe with my ribeye. I smother it in butter and sour cream, and I only eat the insides-which only adds up to seven or eight forkfuls. I've done this several times now, and the scales have never moved in the wrong direction.

Must be because I keep my carbs pretty low otherwise-just by avoiding anything starchy and sugary, and because I'm not really eating that much potatoe... maybe all the butter and sour cream helps dampen the effects of the pototoe starch too, who knows?

anway, I've always loved the taste of a baked potatoe, and I've found I can get away with the occaisional indulgence!

5/11/2007 11:59 AM  
Blogger Science4u1959 said...

You're right, mrFritz, the fat helps to stabilize your blood sugar - hence the damage is limited. But since the majority of the population is terrified of consuming fat, they do get fat. Did you know that potatoes used to be baked in lard and tallow? It seems that potatoes baked that way taste and look the best.

5/11/2007 3:29 PM  

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