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Showing posts from July, 2014

Super-foods, super-diets and pseudo science

From time to time, certain“super-foods” and “super-diets” emerge to dominate the menus of fashionable restaurants and chique delicatessens. The most recent super-food has been quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah). Apparently, it will treat hypertension, diabetes is a natural appetite suppressor and is anti ageing[1]. In fact, the UN Food and Agricultural Organization deemed 2013 to be “The Year of Quinoa”[2]. The Director General of FAO stated that “…quinoa can play an important role in eradicating hunger, malnutrition and poverty”. The facts are however somewhat at variance with this view of quinoa as a super-food. Firstly, it is stated that its protein quality is unique in the plant world in that it is complete in all the 8 essential amino acids. This leaves the non-expert think that some plant foods therefore lack one or more essential amino acids. Not so. All plant proteins contain all amino acids but they vary in the relative amount of each. To rank the quality of a protein, its “protein…

Sugar addiction: The myth re-visited

I have previously blogged on the myth of sugar addiction[1]but I return to that subject today on foot of some recent publications. The first is a chapter in a new book on sugars and health and the section that attracted my attention was an explanation of the rat studies, which first suggested that sugar was addictive[2]. The late Barley G. Hoebel carried out these studies. Rats were given either a 24-hour access to a 10% sugar solution or a 12-hour access to the same solution. Both groups of rats had access to a standard rat diet, perfectly balanced for the nutritional needs of this species. Rats live with a “dark” and “light” cycle of about 12 hours each and it is only during the dark period, when the lights are switched off, that rats eat. In this particular study, the rats in the 12-hour arm of the experiment, only received their sugar, some four hours after the start of the dark cycle. It was well known that if during this dark eating cycle, a rat is deprived of food for the first…