July 13, 2001
In this issue:|
| ow... Issue Number 13 being published on a Friday, the thirteenth!|
Not a time for triskaidekaphobia, huh? Just for an interesting side note, my husband Richard made out the publication calendar for this month and his birthday's on a 13th of a month. And for what it's worth, we were married on a Friday the 13th.
But for now... on with the newsletter!
"The "Hidden Carbs Thing"
We've probably received more mail asking about this "hidden carbs" thing than any other single subject over the last two weeks. Apparently there's a lot of discussion of it on various newsgroups which have led to a "formula" being passed around and posted. And I have been asked (many times over) to address it, so here goes.
First, is there any truth to it? Sure — sort of. Is the formula for finding these "hidden carbs" correct? Well, not exactly.
If you haven't seen it, basically, the formula works like this: It assumes the following:
Now that this 'formula' is circulating, people are aghast to find that products are mislabeled and that some products they thought were low-carb are filled with carbs.
But are they?
Well, sometimes. Let's look at what's wrong with that theory/formula:
First and foremost, it assumes absolutes. It assumes 1 gram of carbohydrate to be precisely 4 calories. In reality, a gram of carbohydrate AVERAGES approximately 4 calories. It can be a bit off depending on the purity and source (same for protein and fat.) So if we assume say that in one particular product, its 1 gram of protein actually accounts for 4.3 calories, it could begin to add up to a big discrepancy.
Second — Labels are permitted to use "rounding". This means that if an item contains 3.3 carbs per serving, it would likely say 3 carbs per serving. But if it contained 3.7 carbs, it would say 4 carbs per serving. As much as a 25 calorie discrepancy could come from rounding for portions over 50 calories, and 15 calories for those under 50 calories. This is even more pronounced where many servings are concerned.
Which leads us to point three...
Serving Sizes: On lots of food products, they want to keep certain counts low for selling purposes — surely the case with diet products. If they're marketing to low-fat, they'll keep serving sizes extremely small where a product contains a lot of fat. So let's say they offer a serving size of 1 teaspoon on a fatty mayo-based spread. The count might show 3 grams of fat (sounds low, right?) and in reality, it's 3.4 grams of fat, but they can round down. Now the average person will actually eat about 1 Tablespoon (nearly 3 teaspoons), so you'd get 3.4 grams x 3 for a total of 10.2 grams of fat. You might have casually assumed you used "a serving" and counted 3 grams to your tally. Or you might have been more studious and realized you had 3 servings and counted 9 grams. But you didn't know you'd actually had 10.2 because of rounding.
This example was used with FAT because it's less complicated than carbs. With carbs there are even MORE variations. For one thing (as many of you know,) in the United States, carbohydrates are not directly measured. The government does not think they are of dietary importance except to the positive. Therefore, they are calculated "by difference". This means that after fat, protein, water, and ash are accounted for, what's left is assumed to be carbohydrate.
Then there's the issue of fiber. We know we don't need to count the fiber portion against our carb counts, but some labels do and some don't. Especially with products geared to our diet industry. And are those fibers counted in the calories? They can be. But they don't HAVE to be. So your total calories on the label may already have the fiber uncounted. And it may or may not reflect rounding. So how can it be used with the formula above to give you an accurate count of "hidden carbs"? It can't. But, it CAN give you a quick common sense guideline to see if there's some MASSIVE discrepancy that shouldn't be there.
Lastly, and probably most importantly, is the issue of sugar alcohols (polyols.) Are they carbs or not? The low-carb bar manufacturers want you to believe they are TOTALLY not carbs and most of them (thankfully not all) completely remove them from the count with the disclaimer that says something like, "Maltitol, a low digestible carbohydrate has been omitted from the total carbohydrate content as it can only convert to a negligible amount of glucose in the body." Sometimes it will include other "discounted" ingredients such as lactitol, glycerine, etc.
They're trying to explain why the calorie count doesn't sync up with the carb counts. And if polyols truly did not act as carbs in the body – AT ALL – I'd have no problem with this.
But that's not the case.
How many of you have run into stalls or dropped out of ketosis when you started eating the bars or other sweet commercial treats? Notice they don't say "UNdigestible carbohydrate", they say, "low digestible carbohydrate". How much of an effect they have on your blood glucose, your well being and your weight-loss bottom line, actually varies from person to person.
In the average person, maltitol has about 1/3 the impact sugar does. Some more, some less. So a bar that contains 16 grams of maltitol (and counts zero carb grams for this) should probably claim about 5 grams of carbs to be fair. It's still a good carb-bargain to be able to have chocolate from time to time. And I personally think all of you would appreciate their honesty. But unless they ALL do it, none of them will make the change because they know that a new low-carb dieter will go into a store and see two brands of bars on a shelf. One proclaims "2 grams of carbs!" and the other says, "7 grams of carbs!" They both have the same ingredients but the one claiming 2 has pretended the maltitol doesn't exist. You won't know that. You'll buy the one that says "2 grams". So the practice continues.
Are these "hidden carbs"? Well, hidden has come to imply carbs from a source where an accounting or rounding error has occurred. This is more of a deliberate deception.
Be smart — keep the majority of your carbohydrates coming from vegetables and a few whole, unprocessed grains (plus a bit of fruit.) Use the treats as TREATS. Know who you can trust. People have sometimes compared this or that bar on the newsgroups showcasing one as delicious! And the other as "ickky". Invariably the one they loved is filled with lots of sugar alcohols (and sometimes sugars.)
I am also going to go out on a limb here and recognize that a few companies are going out of their way to be honest with you (sometimes to their own detriment) and we admire them very much. First is Keto brands. We review a lot of their foods. These people are honest to a fault. Everything's lab tested and they almost never use polyols. They are sometimes criticized about their products not being as "tasty" or sweet as competitors. But many of those competitors are less than honest with you about what you're getting. You could eat Keto products every day and never "accidentally" get carbs you didn't know you were getting. (No, they didn't pay me to say this, and no, they didn't know I was GOING to say this.)
The next is the line of Low Carb Chef items that Brett Railey at Low Carb Dieter's Page is carrying and helping to bring to market. He's been working hard to make sure all PROPER information you need is on that label so you can make an informed decision. We're proud of you, Brett.
Also, Elaine at Low Carb Connoisseur works harder at taking care of her customers and offering real support than anyone out there. Did you know she supports children that are being treated at the Johns Hopkins Pediatric Epileptic Center? Honesty and trust are at the core of her business.
These merchants walk a fine line... they want and need to make a profit, build their businesses and provide for their families. At the same time, they fight to keep their integrity and keep the low-carb revolution from looking like a "scam" at a time when public perception is everything. We applaud them.
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Hope Springs Eternal [Part II]
Editor's Note: This is a continuation of last issue's article, and if perchance you missed it, you can find it here.
I promised last issue that in this column, we'd take a look at who stands to lose as the shift to low-carb acceptance takes a foothold, and who will be the big winners.
Many of the potential "losers" could be "winners" instead, if they act soon:
The Diet Industry — The majority of the current diet industry is currently wed to theory of carbs=good; fat=bad. It's set up that way to both feed into the public's belief that this is "common knowledge", and to bolster and promote that opinion. The most high profile product line is, of course, Slim-Fast.
As we've reported before, to give you an idea of where Slim-Fast stands in the market, a year ago Unilever purchased Slim-Fast for $2.3 billion in cash. Slim-Fast holds 45 percent of the $1.3 billion nutritional supplement and weight-management market in the U.S. In the year ended November 1999, Slim-Fast had net sales of $611 million and operating profits of $125 million. No numbers for year 2000 are as yet available, but we understand they've grown considerably.
But what if they took the "if you can't beat 'em; join 'em" approach and introduced a line of truly low-carb shakes, bars, etc? If they can't bring themselves to say, "hey, we were wrong" (and of course they never would), they could at least say, "for some people, THIS is what works best".
Do we think they'll do any such thing? We're not holding our breath.
Then there are the Diet "Programs" — From Jenny Craig to Diet Workshop and more. Of course, Jenny decided it might be a good idea to grab a few bucks from all the consumers who'd been asking about these "low carb diets they'd seen their friends lose weight on." So last year, they introduced their new "low-carb option". It was almost laughable.
These plans are NOT the LEAST BIT low-carb. They are diets comprised of 50% Carbohydrates! (Their regular plan is 60% carbs,) so this is a slight reduction, but their foods are still high in starches and sugars and will offer none of the metabolic advantages of low-carbing. They tell how "diet books" often recommend 40% or less carbs and how this is dangerous!
But what if one of the "big guys" in Diet Programs really DID offer a REAL low-carb option? Someone has to be first. Someone has to take that chance. And the results will be amazing, as will the profits. (Yes, I know there are some smaller programs out there offering low or lower carb plans, but until one of the household name companies makes the jump, it ain't gonna make the news.)
Now, let's take a look at the next — and surely the biggest — potential loser in this scenario: The Pharmaceutical Industry.
Drugs. They're big money. And we need them, make no mistake about it. But we don't need them to MAKE us need them more.
Have you noticed that for the last several years the big drug companies have been much more focused on treating symptoms, rather than finding the cause of our symptoms and eliminating them?
Case in point: Anglo-Swedish drug giant AstraZeneca, makers of Prilosec, the world's most prescribed drug with more than $6 billion in sales in 2000. It's that famous "purple pill" for relieving acid-reflux (caused by a high carb diet.) They've now come out with a new even better "purple pill" called Nexium. Now, this one relieves heartburn and helps with acid reflux that has become SO bad and SO persistent that the patient now needs help to heal the actual *erosion of the esophagus*!
Has our carb addiction-induced acid reflux now accelerated to the point that it's now eating away at our esophagus— I don't know about you, but I don't have a bit of acid reflux or heartburn ever, from my way of eating. And we hear in letter after letter each week about how low-carbers find this is the FIRST symptom to magically disappear after years of trouble.
So what would happen to the multi-billion dollar profit from drugs that treat the symptoms of a phenomenon caused by a diet that suddenly changed? You know the answer...
By the way, don't you love their ads that try to illustrate that greasy or spicy foods are what causes heartburn? The biggest instigator of heartburn and acid reflux is sugar.
Maybe I don't even need to list the winners. You know them — they're the pioneers of low carb. The merchants you deal with every day. The authors and cooks who publish to meet our needs.
And the biggest winners? Us, of course!
Low Carb Connoisseur — we put the Dash in Low–Carb!
Sweetness and Light
Here are several of our favorites of recipes submitted to us by our readers. Hope you enjoy them as much as we did!
Coconut Milk Pudding
Summer Orange Cheesecake
Sweet Cinnamon Puffs
Gluten Flour Popovers
Getting to the Meat of the Matter...
Let's face it — while we might all be a little obsessed with finding great substitutes for the previous carb treats we used to eat, the main focus of most of our diets is meat.
And while meat in its many forms is readily available in every grocery in America (and everywhere else), have you stopped to think about why you might need to be a little "choosy" in that department too?
With the common goal of getting and staying healthy the tie that binds us all here, I want to talk a little about the benefits of serving meats that are in their healthiest form — without prophylactic antibiotics or supplemental hormones, and with as little use of nitrites in processed meats as possible. Unfortunately these chemicals pass upward through the food chain to the consumer... to YOU.
First, let's talk about the problems with antibiotics being added to livestock feed. It's done for two reasons — First, it helps to promote a more robust growth in the animal (meaning they have more poundage to sell and profits soar) and second, (ostensibly) to prevent the *possibility* of disease afflicting the animals. (Of course crowding to excess thousands of animals into small confined spaces where manure and insects go out of control are the reasons for disease-danger in the first place!)
But why is it a dangerous practice for we humans when cattle, hogs and chicken are treated with antibiotics? Put simply, these are the same antibiotic drugs we rely on every day to fight infectious disease. When we consume those same drugs on a regular basis, the disease-causing bacteria become resistant and we're left to find other alternatives — if there are any. Think this is just extremist? Would it surprise you to know that 33% of the antibiotic drugs currently sold in America now go into livestock to speed their growth and rise profits?
As soon as you and your family become exposed to drug resistant forms of such bacteria as E. coli or Salmonella, you'll have lost your ability to fight back. A CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) report in 1997 showed that more than 1/3 of the reported cases of a particular type of Salmonella that causes food poisoning were caused by Salmonella bacteria resistant to five important antibiotics used to treat the disease. The percentage of resistant bacteria was negligible when this type of Salmonella was studied in 1980.
(To be fair, we want to make note here that some of the current state of bacterial resistance is thought to be caused by too much casual use by physicians. Many people insist on a prescription antibiotic when visiting the doctor — even though it's not called for. Too many physicians give in to the pressure and just write the prescription, thus adding to this problem.)
You can see the latest information on Antimicrobial Resistance at the FDA's site.
Now, let's talk about the use of supplemental hormones. First, why? Well, for the most part the why is the same as those mentioned above. It's really all about the money. Growth hormones make animals grow bigger, faster – give more milk and lay more eggs. And in the process eat less feed.
In addition, hormones reduce the amount of fat in meat — a marketing tool to those on the low-fat bandwagon. An estimated 70-90 percent of feedlot cattle are implanted. Both beef and sheep may be implanted, but as far as I can determine, hormones are not currently administered to swine.
Second — how?
Through the use of an implant to the back of the ear. It's a pellet, the size of a saccharin tablet or half an aspirin. It contains either estrogen or testosterone or progesterone, depending on the sex of the animal. It's in the ear and it secretes estrogen (or other hormone) into the body over a period of about 30 days. Some last longer but it finally melts away. Much like a steroid in young athletes — it builds red muscle.
(A side note: The ears are removed at slaughter and are not offered for human consumption... but guess where they go? Remember our article about pet food?)
Which Hormones are Used?
Five hormones are approved for use in the United States: estradiol, testosterone, progesterone, trenbolone acetate, and zeranol. The first three are produced naturally by livestock as well as humans. The last two are synthetically made and are not found phys- iologically in animals or humans.
But what are the repercussions?
In the 1950's the average age of puberty for a young lady in America was 16 to 17 years old. In the 40 years hence, with the enormous increase of hormone-enhanced meat consumption by American children, that average has dropped dramatically to 11 to 12 years old. And there are many pediatricians now reporting girls menstruating as young as 6 to 7 years old and younger. If it's doing this to the bodies of our children, ask yourself, what is it doing to their minds?
In chickens alone these hormones have decreased the age of slaughter from 16 weeks in 1950 to seven weeks today. These chickens have breasts that are 6 times bigger than their ancestors. These chickens only get these drugs for 7 weeks. Imagine what eating this meat for many years might do.
Lastly, the use of nitrites in processed meats...
First, what are nitrates and nitrites?
Nitrates and nitrites are naturally occuring chemicals. Nitrates are created when plants breakdown nitrogen that is in the air during photosynthesis. Humans consume nitrates in the plants they eat and animals they eat. Nitrites are smaller molecules that are created when nitrates break down.
Why are they used?
For two reasons: First, they inhibit the growth of bacterial spores that cause botulism, a deadly food-borne illness. And second, for color enhancement of cured meat, poultry, and fish products.
The reason the FDA allows them is simply that they consider the risk of adverse health effects from botulism is much greater than the risk of developing cancer from small amounts of nitrites, therefore nitrites are allowed.
You've probably read in many of the Atkins books (as well as others) that nitrates and nitrites should be avoided wherever possible. But I bet you wondered why...
What are the health effects?
Excessive levels of nitrate have caused serious illness and sometimes death.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the chief danger associated with nitrates is that they are converted into nitrites during digestion. Nitrites can poison humans, particularly infants and children. Nitrites can combine with amines, a by-product of protein digestion, to form nitrosamines, a potent carcinogen, according to the U.S. surgeon general. Nitrosamines can cause malignant tumor growth over a long exposure period, such as a lifetime of eating nitrate-added pork.
Additionally, nitrites can bond with the hemoglobin in human blood, forming a different molecule, methemoglobin, which cannot carry oxygen. Because humans rely on blood flow to carry oxygen to all parts of the body, including the brain, oxygen deprivation is another real risk associated with nitrate use in meats. Young children are especially at risk from contact with nitrites — particularly nursing babies less than three months old, according to the EPA.
Long-term: Nitrates and nitrites have the potential to cause the following effects from a lifetime exposure: diuresis, increased starchy deposits and hemorrhaging of the spleen.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
While we don't feel the need to stress "organic meat", we do want you to be aware of what you're eating, what's in it, and how it's produced so that you can make an informed decision.
That being said, we recommend a few companies that go the extra mile to deliver safe, natural, flavorful meats that offer you that peace of mind as well...
Coleman Natural Meats — The best roasts and ground beef we've ever tasted. In South Carolina (Greenville), we get it at "Earth Fare" and in Ohio (Dayton) we get it at Dorothy Lane Markets. Visit their website to locate a grocer in your area:
Applegate Farms — Deli Meats, sausage, bacon, ham, cheeses, turkey, and more. Natural, antibiotic free, safe. And tasty... they were just reviewed here at Low Carb Luxury! You can either find them locally (same stores as those listed for Coleman's Beef — see their website to search for your area) or they accept online ordering.
Schafer Farms Natural Meats — Selling natural beef, lamb, chicken, and turkeys. Located in Jamesport, Missouri, you'll need to order online unless you're local.
Almond... the 'Other' White Milk...
I've recently discovered I cannot handle dairy in any appreciable amounts. Therefore, cream and half & half are not options for me. I looked into substitutes and found soy milk (of course), but guess what? I can't "do" soy, either. Then there's rice milk - definitely a no-no for a low-carber, and finally coconut milk. Now the coconut milk has been working great in many recipes (but not all), but is not a workable solution when I want a little something over a low carb "cereal" (I am using both Expert Foods' not/Cereal, plus a recipe I make myself with cottage cheese and flaxseed.) So any suggestions for what I can use for my "milk" when I can't handle real dairy OR soy?
Dear Tony —
Sure! You can use one of our favorites around here - Almond Milk!
It's available commercially at a number of health food stores by several different brands - the best being the Almond Breeze brand from Blue Diamond. Note that there are three varieties — the first two - Chocolate and Vanilla flavored are high in carbs and sugars, so they're "out", but the other two varieties are:
Unflavored/Plain : It's slightly sweetened with evaporated cane juice and comes in at 6 carbs per cup (the same carb count as heavy cream.)
Unflavored/Unsweetened Plain : No flavor OR sweetener and comes in at less than 2 grams per cup. It's much harder to find, but if you can locate it, this is the variety you want. Add a teeny bit of Splenda and a drop of vanilla if you like.
How does it taste? It does have a subtle taste of almonds, but is delicious in my opinion and I enjoy drinking a cold glass with a couple of my favorite low-carb cookies when I want a treat.
If you can't find it, you can make your own. Here's how!
This is a basic recipe for Almond Milk that you can play around with as you like. To make it thicker or thinner, adjust the nut to water ratio as appropriate. Never use tap water — use a good spring or mineral water. This is thick and creamy due to its rich mineral and oil content, yet has little or no pesticide residue, a calcium content that exceeds that of dairy milks and there is no need to pasteurize it.
Please remember, however, when adding nut milks to sauces and soups to not boil it intensely, or the milk will likely separate.
Line a colander with 2 layers of cheesecloth and place this over a large bowl. When the almond milk is finished blending, pour it slowly into the colander and allow it to strain naturally. You can stir it a little to try and speed the process, but in order to keep all particulate out of the finished milk, it's best to let it do it on its own.
You can strain the milk a second time, if you want to be sure it's free of all particulate.
Store the finished milk in an airtight container in your fridge for 4 or 5 days.
Thanks for all your letters, everyone! I get hundreds of letters each week and try to answer as many as I can.
Thanks for reading! Keep your suggestions and questions
coming in — we always want to hear from you! Remember, we
can't address every request and query, but the ones we hear
about the most or offer the greater potential to help others
will surely make their way here.|
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