May 16, 2013 5:38 pm
This ad for Subway sandwiches reminds you that, unlike their fast food competitors that sell burgers and fries and shakes, Subway is healthy. That seems obvious, since they’re selling sandwiches with lettuce on them while other places sell fattening burgers. But a new study suggests that in fact eating at Subway might be less healthy than eating at McDonald’s.
The study sent a bunch of kids off to the two chains. The researchers tracked what the kids ate and counted the calories. On average, whole meal at McDonald’s added up to 1,038 calories, but Subway wasn’t far behind at 955. And if you take away the extras and sides, Subway starts to lose out. The sandwich the study subjects ordered had 784 calories, while the burger only had 582. And the two meals were similar in other ways too. Here’s the NY Post:
Diners ordered 102g of carbohydrates at Subway compared to 128 at McDonald’s and 36g of sugar to McDonald’s’ 54g.
People ate even more sodium at Subway, with 2,149mg compared to 1,829mg at McDonald’s. Overconsumption of salt is a growing health crisis for Americans, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned, putting children and adults at risk for hypertension, heart disease and obesity. One CDC study found the average kid consumers 3,300mg of salt daily, far more than the recommended 2,300mg.
Now, the sides, extras and drinks do seem to differ between Subway and McDonald’s. At Subway, participants purchased 61 calories worth of sugary drinks, while at McDonald’s they bought 151 calories. Subway usually serves chips as a side, while McDonald’s offers fries. And the teens were asked to buy a “meal,” which usually means more than a sandwich or burger.
Of course, Subway wasn’t totally happy with the study. It responded to the work saying:
“[We] want to clarify a few things. As long time leaders in offering customers healthier options, Subway restaurants has always provided customers nutritional information on all of our menu offerings along with a wide array of great-tasting, low-fat and low-calorie subs and salads.”
And the study authors aren’t really out to get Subway in particular. They want everyone to stop eating at these restaurants in general. Their conclusions state:
We found that, despite being marketed as “healthy,” adolescents purchasing a meal at Subway order just as many calories as at McDonald’s. Although Subway meals had more vegetables, meals from both restaurants are likely to contribute to overeating.
Stay in and make your own sandwich or burger, the authors say, and you’ll be far better off.
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May 3, 2013 3:29 pm
This weekend, fans will gather for the 138th annual Kentucky Derby, North America’s favorite horse racing event. Fans will place bets for the likes of Black Onyx, Oxbow and Frac Daddy and cheer on the horses and their jockeys as they gallop around the track. But watching the races and enjoying the spring weather aren’t the Derby’s only draws. Traditional also calls for bountiful cups of icy mint juleps sipped alongside a hearty bowl of burgoo, a Kentucky favorite often served at the event.
In the mid-19th century, Kentucky’s Henry Clay was no stranger to the delights of the mint julep. The University of Kentucky provides a favorite recipe, straight out of Clay’s diary—the words of a true disciple of the drink:
The mint leaves, fresh and tender, should be pressed against a coin-silver goblet with the back of a silver spoon. Only bruise the leaves gently and then remove them from the goblet. Half fill with cracked ice. Mellow bourbon, aged in oaken barrels, is poured from the jigger and allowed to slide slowly through the cracked ice.
In another receptacle, granulated sugar is slowly mixed into chilled limestone water to make a silvery mixture as smooth as some rare Egyptian oil, then poured on top of the ice. While beads of moisture gather on the burnished exterior of the silver goblet, garnish the brim of the goblet with the choicest sprigs of mint.
As for burgoo, it’s a spicy stew made of beef, chicken, pork and veggies. Back in Clay’s days, however, burgoo could include a bit of whatever animal happened to be around, including venison, raccoon, squirrel, opossum or wild birds. That’s probably how it earned the appetizing nickname of “roadkill soup.”
While wild animals are probably lacking in most pots of burgoo today, each restaurant’s offerings do provide a unique culinary experience since no two places use the exact same blend of spices and ingredients. If you’d like to try and concoct your very own spin on burgoo, Epicurious has a recipe for Kentucky bourbon burgoo, or take your pick from the many other versions on offer.
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May 2, 2013 3:38 pm
You shouldn’t eat right before bed, or before swimming, or before a lot of medical procedures. But should we add eating standing up to that list? It’s unclear, science says.
Some claim that eating while standing will eating will lead to weight gain. USA Today writes:
Studies show that people who skip sit-down meals in the interest of saving time may be costing themselves unwanted calories. Canadian researchers asked one group of people to eat food out of plastic containers while standing over a kitchen counter, while a second group ate an identical meal off of a plate sitting down at a table.
At their next meal a few hours later, the “standers” downed about 30 percent more calories than the “sitters.” The researchers theorized that eating on your feet doesn’t register psychologically as a “real meal”, and as a result people may subconsciously grant themselves permission to eat more later in the day.
But, regardless of this vein of chiding, many of us still eat while standing up. And BBC Future says that it’s probably, actually, just fine for you. Those who sit down to eat spend 34 percent longer on their meals than those who stand, so standing meals could make your scarf rather than savor. But science suggests that the it doesn’t really matter how fast you eat. Here’s BBC Future:
There are very few studies comparing fast and slow eaters, partly because it wouldn’t be easy to randomise people into eating at a particular speed and then to enforce that at every meal. A study from 1994 did include questions about eating speed in a survey of dietary habits. They found the speed at which you believed you ate had no relationship with the frequency of indigestion. Research conducted in 2010 found the same, but these two studies rely on our ability both to judge our eating speed accurately, and to report it honestly.
This problem was overcome in a South Korean study, which timed how long a group of cadets training at the Armed Forces Nursing Academy actually took to finish their meals. With their regimented life where they all woke, ate and exercised at the same time, they were the ideal group of people to study. The one difference in their daily routines was the speed at which they chose to eat. But yet again, if you examine the study in detail, speed of eating seemed to have little effect on indigestion.
Even speed eaters, who eat quicker than anyone else (albeit usually sitting down), don’t seem to get more indigestion than those who eat at a more humanlike pace. All this seems to suggest that the idea that eating standing up might be bad for you is, at the very best, unsupported by the scientific evidence. So stand tall, hungry lunchers.
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April 26, 2013 9:15 am
California authorities are trying to crack down on smugglers shipping fish bladders across the border. That’s right, fish bladders are a thing that people smuggle.
In fact, they’re worth a ton of money. One bladder from the Totoaba macdonaldi fish can garner $5,000 in the United States and over $10,000 in Asia. The bladders are mainly used in Chinese food, like soups. Often the fish are simply stripped of their bladders and left on the beach, meat and all, since the traders don’t care about the meat, and being caught with it would be a liability.
Now, we’re not talking about the same kind of bladder that a human has. The prized organ on the totoaba isn’t full of urine. It’s the fish’s swim bladder, an organ that fills with gas to change the buoyancy of the fish, allowing it to ascend and descend in the water.
From the outside, the Totoaba macdonaldi isn’t a particularly striking fish. They’re big, weighing up to 220 pounds and getting up to 6.5 feet long. The species is endangered throughout its range, which spans the California coast, says NOAA, mostly because of fishing for this prized bladder. And the Chinese species of the same fish was eaten to extinction, which is why suppliers are turning to the U.S. population.
Scientific American reports that trade in U.S. totoaba bladders is heating up:
In the latest case that led to criminal charges, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer inspecting a car at the Calexico-Mexicali port of entry, about 130 miles east of San Diego, found 27 totoaba bladders hidden under floor mats in the back seat of a car, U.S. prosecutors said in a statement.
Jason Xie, 49, of Sacramento was accused of taking delivery of 169 bladders on March 30 in a hotel parking lot in Calexico, about 120 miles east of San Diego. Xie told investigators he was paid $1,500 to $1,800 for each of 100 bladders in February.
Anthony Sanchez Bueno, 34, of Imperial was charged with the same crime after authorities said he drove the 169 bladders across the downtown Calexico border crossing in three coolers. He told investigators he was to be paid $700.
Song Zhen, 73, was accused of storing 214 dried totoaba bladders in his Calexico home.
“These were rooms that didn’t have furnishings,” U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said. “In every room, fish bladders were dried out over cardboard and papers.”
The bladders found in Zhen’s house could be worth over $3.6 million on the black market.
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April 22, 2013 12:37 pm
There are all sorts of food challenge ideas that are probably bad for you. There’s the gallon challenge, in which you try to drink a gallon of whole milk in an hour. Or the saltines challenge, which asks you to eat six saltines in sixty seconds without drinking anything. But some of these challenges are more dangerous than others. In fact, pediatricians are now officially opposed to you trying the cinnamon challenge, in which you swallow a tablespoon of cinnamon without water. Here’s what that looks like:
And, as it turns out, trying to eat that much cinnamon can be really bad for you. Reuters reports:
“What we were discovering was that it wasn’t just that this was a dare prompted by peer pressure, but in fact there were acute health issues associated with it and there might be some real concerns for more chronic health issues,” said Dr. Steven Lipshultz, a co-author on the study from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
The shorter term health issues include choking, lung inflammation and asthma attacks. And since cinnamon powder is almost entirely made of cellulose, a chemical that doesn’t break down easily, it can stick around in your lungs and cause serious damage. In fact, the cinnamon challenge sends some people to the hospital. Reuters reports that in 2012, U.S. poison control centers were called 222 times “relating to abuse or misuse of cinnamon by teens” and about thirty of those teens required medical attention.
A study on the phenomenon, titled “Ingesting and Aspirating Dry Cinnamon by Children and Adolescents: The “Cinnamon Challenge”” points to a YouTube search that found 51,000 clips showing the challenge. The authors say that there hasn’t been much in the way of research on cinnamon exposure to human lungs, but in studies with rats they found serious damage to the lungs. They write:
Although we cannot make a strong statement on documented pulmonary sequelae in humans, it is prudent to warn that the Cinnamon Challenge has a high likelihood to be damaging to the lungs. These discussions can also help learn to weigh the risks and rewards of yielding to peer pressure when considering senseless and risky behaviors.
The moral of the pediatricians story here: parents, tell your kids not to eat spoonfuls of cinnamon. And kids, knock it off, you could seriously damage your lungs.
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