What’s a Good Plant Source of Omega-3 Fatty Acid?

David Mendosa says the answer is the macadamia nut.

Paleobetic diet

Macadamia nuts

The macadamia nut is that it’s one of the few nuts with a good omega-6/omega-3 fatty acid ratio. In other words, it’s high in omega-3 and low in 6. This may have important cardiovascular health implications. Macadamias are one of the nuts I recommend on my Paleobetic Diet. All of the diets I recommend to my patients include nuts. I just wish macadamias were less expensive.

David writes:

The first Australian macadamia plantation didn’t begin until the 1880s. And not until 1954 with the introduction of mechanised processing did commercial production became viable. Nowadays about 90 percent of the the world’s macadamia nut production comes from Hawaii, where it has become its third most important crop, according to The Wellness Encyclopedia of Food and Nutrition, University of California at Berkeley (1992).

Read the rest, where you’ll learn that macadamia nuts are the highest of all nuts in calories, gram for gram.

Paleobetic diet

Macadamia nuts on the tree

QOTD: Drug Prohibition Fail

When you institute a prohibition like we have with drugs in this country, what you are doing is not protecting people from other people, you are attempting to use law enforcement to protect people from themselves. Protecting you from yourself is a function of family, church, education, and the health care system. It never is, and never should have been intended to be, a law enforcement function. We are out there enforcing morality when we enforce drug laws, and that is not our job. We were not trained to do it, we are not capable of doing it, and if anything else you see the failure of it.

Peter Christ, retired police captain

SBM Looks at Oil Pulling (Oil Swishing)

I mentioned oil pulling before, without much cogent comment. It involves swishing edible oil around in your mouth for 10-20 minutes, for oral and systemic health benefits. Steven Novella over at Science-Based Medicine gave it more consideration. His conclusion:

Oil pulling is a suggestive misnomer, implying that something bad is being pulled from the mouth (toxins and bacteria). What little scientific evidence exists shows that it is probably not as effective as standard mouth wash, and what benefit it has is likely entirely due to the mechanical act of swishing to remove particles and bacteria from teeth and gums.

There is no reason either theoretically or based upon any evidence to recommend oil pulling (which should be renamed “oil-swishing”) instead of standard modern health care with flossing, tooth-brushing, and mouth rinse. However, it does appear to be better than nothing, and might have a role in developing countries without access to modern oral care. The one caveat is that extended periods of swishing that are commonly recommended (10-20 minutes) are likely not necessary and further present a risk of lipoid pneumonia from accidentally breathing in small amounts of oil.

Read the rest.

How to Preserve Brain Function Despite Aging

There are ways of slowing or reversing losses in cognitive function. The most effective discovered so far is physical exercise, which protects the brain by protecting the body’s cardiovascular health. Mental exercise, often called brain training, is widely promoted, but it boosts only the particular skill that is practised – its narrow impact mirroring that of educational interventions at other ages. Various drugs are being investigated for their value in staving off normal cognitive decline, but for now preventive maintenance is still the best bet – avoid smoking, drinking to excess, head injuries and the like.

Don’t forget regular exercise. Also, I think the Mediterranean diet helps preserve brain function, but it’s difficult to prove.

MRI scan of brain

MRI scan of brain

That quotes from an Instant Expert paper on intelligence. It’s full of interesting facts such as the typical difference in IQ between strangers is 17 points. It answers the question whether an enriched school or home environment can increase intelligence.

The article mentions overload of patients’ brains when medical care is too complicated:

Given the complexity of self-care regimes, it is hardly surprising that some people make dangerous errors or fail to comply. The effective management of diabetes, for example, requires a person to keep blood sugar levels within a healthy range, which means coordinating diet, exercise and medication throughout the day, which in turn requires planning for contingencies, recognising when blood sugar is veering too high or low, knowing how to regain control and conceptualising the imperceptible but cumulative damage caused by failing to maintain control. There is no set recipe for people with diabetes to follow – their bodies and circumstances differ. Moreover, they get little training, virtually no supervision and no days off. Effectively managing your diabetes is a cognitively complex job and poor performance has serious consequences, including emergency room visits, lost limbs or eyesight, and even death. The lower the diabetic person’s IQ, the greater the risks.

You’ll also learn about the Flynn effect and possible explanations for it:

Over the past century, each successive generation has answered more IQ test items correctly than the last, the rise being equivalent to around 3 IQ points per decade in developed nations. This is dubbed the “Flynn effect” after the political scientist James Flynn, who most thoroughly documented it. Are humans getting smarter, and if so, why? 

I’m more inclined to think Idiocracy describes our future.

Steve Parker, M.D.

h/t James Fulford

Recipe: Naked Chicken Fajitas

paleobetic diet

It looks more appealing if you use green and red bell peppers

My earliest recollection of fajitas is from 1981 in Austin, Texas. I had just moved there from Oklahoma City to start my internship and residency in Internal Medicine at Brackenridge Hospital. Back then fajitas were made with skirt steak, the diaphragm of a cow or steer. It was considered a cheap low-quality cut of meat. You can also make fajitas with chicken. The contents of a fajita are wrapped in a tortilla usually made with flour. Are you trying to lose weight or prevent weight gain by cutting back on calories? You can do that but retain all the flavor by using lettuce as a wrapper.

Today’s recipe is very low-carb; after adding walnuts and a pear to comprise a whole meal, it’s still just 27 grams of digestible carbohydrate per serving.

I wonder if the El Azteca Restaurant in Austin is still in business. Best Mexican food I ever had. I think it was on 6th Street or so, about 3/4 mile east of I-35. Good times.

By the way, the j in fajita is pronounced “h.” Accent on second syllable. “Fuh-HEET-uh.”

Today we’re using chicken and making four servings.

paleobetic diet, paleo diet for diabetics

Pre-cut chicken breasts and sweet mini-peppers

Ingredients:

1 lb (454 kg) chicken breast, raw, boneless and skinless, cut in strips about 1/4-inch wide (you can often buy it this way)

7 oz onion, raw, cut in long crescent shapes about a 1/4-inch wide (0.6 cm)

6 oz (170 g) bell pepper, raw, cut in long strips roughly a 1/4-inch wide (these are also called sweet peppers; a combination of the red and green ones is eye-pleasing)

2 tbsp (30 ml) olive oil

5 or 6 oz (155 g) tomato, raw, cut in long strips

1 tsp (5 ml) salt

1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) pepper

1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) chili powder

1 tsp (5 ml) parsley flakes

1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) oregano leaves

1 pinch of cumin

1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) paprika

(Optional: You could replace all these spices with a 1-oz (28 g) pack of Lawry’s Chicken Fajitas Spices & Seasoning. The sodium and potassium values below would be different.)

1/3 cup (80 ml) water

16 oz (454 g) lettuce (e.g., iceberg, romaine, or bibb)

4 oz (113 g) walnuts

4 pears, small (about 1/3 lb or 150 g each))

Instructions:

Add the onions, peppers, and 1 tbsp (15 ml)  olive oil to a 12-inch (30 cm) skillet and cook at medium-high heat until tender, stirring occasionally. This’ll take about 10 minutes. Set the skillet contents aside.

paleobetic diet, paleo diet for diabetes

This is double the recipe amount since there are six humanoids in my household

paleobetic diet, paleo diet for diabetics

The vegetables reduce volume by half while cooking

In the same pan, add 1 tbsp (15 ml) olive oil and the chicken and cook at medium to medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until chicken is thoroughly cooked. For me, this cooked quicker than the vegetables. But don’t overcook or the chicken will get tough. Then add the water and all the spices. Bring to a boil while stirring occasionally, then simmer on low heat a few minutes. This is your fajita filling.

My original plan was to make “fajita wraps,” wrapping the cooked fajitas into a large leaf of iceberg lettuce. This was pretty messy, especially since I love the sauce in the bottom of the pan. I tried two leafs as a base: still messy. Finally I just made a bed of lettuce (4 oz) and loaded the fajita concoction right on top. Mess gone. Try a different lettuce? Skip the lettuce entirely and you can reduce digestible carb count in each serving by 2 grams.

Enjoy the walnuts and pear with your meal.

Leftovers taste just as good as fresh-cooked, perhaps even better.

I have another fajita recipe using skirt steak marinated in commercial Zesty Italian Dressing in the refrigerator overnight or for at least four hours. Grill it over coals outside. Yum! I don’t recall whether I added lemon juice to the marinade or squirted it on the meat just before serving. You would just cook the onions and peppers on a pan on the stove as above, with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with a margarita and I’ll make you an honorary Texan.

Number of servings: 4

Serving size: A cup (240 ml) of the fajita mixture, 4 oz (113 g) lettuce, 1 oz (28 g) walnuts, 1 small pear. One cup makes two lettuce wraps.

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving:

48% fat

26% carbohydrate

26% protein

Calories: 514

37 g carbohydrate

10 g fiber grams

27 g digestible carbohydrate (25 g if you skip the lettuce)

928 mg sodium

904 mg potassium

Prominent features: Rich in protein, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C,copper, iron, manganese, niacin, phosphorus, and selenium.

paleobetic diet

Another view, prior to rolling it up (wrapping)

Wine Ratings: Legit or Codswallop?

Grapes are an iconic Mediterranean fruit

Grapes are an iconic Mediterranean fruit

A couple years ago, someone gave me an expensive bottle of champagne that I’d never had before. I won’t mention the brand because I’m not looking for trouble. The brand is iconic and a bottle costs $150-200 (USD). The more you pay, the better it should be, right?

I’m no expert on champagne, but this stuff was awful. Had the bottle simply gone bad? Too old? My wife had drunk this champagne several times before in business settings, and said this flavor was typical. It was a real eye-opener for me.

Robert T. Gonzalez has an article on wine-tasting at IO9. A quote:

 In 2001, researcher Frédéric Brochet invited 54 wine experts to give their opinions on what were ostensibly two glasses of different wine: one red, and one white. In actuality, the two wines were identical, with one exception: the “red” wine had been dyed with food coloring.

The experts described the “red” wine in language typically reserved for characterizing reds. They called it “jammy,” for example, and noted the flavors imparted by its “crushed red fruit.” Not one of the 54 experts surveyed noticed that it was, in fact a white wine.

David McRaney has a more nuanced article on the same issue at The Atlantic. For instance:

In blind taste tests, long-time smokers can’t tell their brand from any of the competitors and wine connoisseurs have a hard time telling $200 bottles from $20 ones. When presented microwaved food from the frozen food section in the setting of a fine restaurant, most people never notice. Taste is subjective, which is another way of saying you are not so smart when it comes to choosing one product over another. All things equal, you refer back to the advertising or the packaging or conformity with your friends and family. Presentation is everything.

If you have more time, check out Calvin Trillin’s article on white-red differentiation in The New Yorker. His suspicion is that “…experienced wine drinkers can tell red from white by taste about seventy per cent of the time, as long as the test is being administered by someone who isn’t interested in trying to fool them.”

The take-home points for me after reading all these are:

  • the more expensive wines are by no means better tasting; I’m sticking with cheaper
  • when you hear someone waxing eloquent about the various flavors in a particular wine, they’re most likely full-of-it (FOS); in other words, it’s malarkey
  • you’re as good a wine judge as anyone else; satisfy your own palate

Steve Parker, M.D.

AMD Recipe: Eggs, Bacon, and Honeydew, and How to Extinguish a Grease Fire

Bacon, eggs, black coffee, and Cholula hot sauce. A caveman wouldn't recognized any of this except for eggs.

Bacon, eggs, black coffee, and Cholula hot sauce. Like my smiley mug?

This is a very basic recipe for a reason. Overweight and obese folks in the long run and better off—i.e., better weight management—if they start preparing their own meals at home. Many young people, however, never learn how to cook. I’ll admit I have to look up how to make a hard-boiled egg because I don’t do it very often.

If you follow nutrition science literature, you’ll see periodic references to “processed meats” like bacon contributing to increased risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, or premature death. I think the associations are pretty weak. I don’t want to debate it right now. Health-conscious cautious people aren’t going to go hog-wild on processed meats. I don’t. We may never have a definitive science-based resolution of the issue.

If you want to control the degree of processing in your bacon, make your own. The recipe at the link includes pink salt (sodium nitrite), maple syrup, and dark brown sugar. Many other recipes are available, some of which could be more paleo-compliant. My understanding is that sodium nitrite is a preservative and gives bacon meat that pink color. Does it contribute to flavor? If you’re not storing your bacon for a long time, you may not need the pink salt.

In any case, I thoroughly enjoy three strips of bacon with my eggs. Pictured above  is the Kirkland brand from Costco was $3.80/pound (USD). Two slices provide 80 calories (uncooked) and zero grams of carb although, if I recall correctly, it was honey-cured bacon.

Ingredients:

3 large eggs

3 strips of bacon, standard thin slices

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup raw honeydew melon, cubed

Instructions:

Fry the bacon over medium or medium-high heat. If there’s too much grease leftover in the pan after cooking, poor out what you don’t want, for later use or drizzle over your dog’s dry kibble food. Leave a little grease in the pan so your eggs don’t stick. Then fry your eggs over medium heat. Enjoy with raw honeydew, which will cleanse your palate after eating bacon.

You can pay a lot more than $3.80 a pound for bacon
You can pay a lot more than $3.80 a pound for bacon

Servings: One

Nutritional Analysis per Serving: (from FitDay.com)

63 % fat

10 % carbohydrate

26 % protein

319 calories

9 carb grams

1 fiber grams

8 digestible carb grams

845 mg sodium

423 mg potassium

Prominent features: high in B12, riboflavin, selenium, protein, pantothenic acid, and phosphorus. Although this is low in calories, it’s adequately satiating because of the rich protein and fat content. The calorie count will be higher by 50 if you eat all the bacon grease.

By the way, I didn’t start a grease fire when cooking this. But I thought about it. After I poured excess grease out of my pan, some of it dribbled onto the outside of the pan. If I had put that pan back on a gas stove to cook my eggs, would that outside grease have caught fire and crept up into the pan?

How do you put out a grease fire? I knew water wouldn’t do the trick; my first thought was pour salt on it. That’s wrong! About.com says to simply smother it by putting a metal lid on the pan and turn off the heat. If you can’t find the fitted lid, use a cookie sheet. Fire won’t burn without a supply of oxygen. You could pour baking soda on the fire, but it takes a lotWikihow has more info on putting out a grease fire, mentioning a dry chemical fire extinguisher as a last resort if you’re going to handle the fire yourself. Think safety first.

Grease fire? Put a lid on it and turn off heat. If that fails, try a LOT of baking soda. Or fire extinguisher.

Grease fire? Put a lid on it and turn off heat. If that fails, try a LOT of baking soda. Or fire extinguisher.