Making every bite count

03 April 2007

Twinkie musings and the F word!

I'm slowly reading the Twinkie book, in between pleasure reading, book club poetry selections, travel guides and newspapers. It's quite interesting, but I'm treating it more like a textbook than a pleasure reading book.
I'm learning about HFCS, or high fructose corn syrup. Here's what I know so far: A chemist in 1811 discovered acid hydrolysis could be used to make syrup from heating potato starch with sulfuric acid. "Legend has it he was chasing Napoleon's 100.000 franc prize... to anyone who could locate a native sugar source," (Ettlinger) because France was blockaded. European sugar beets are still highly subsidized.
Apparently, producing corn syrup is similar to how we process a carb: breaking it down and absorbing the glucose.
Other tidbits:
Maltodextrin is used to replace fat in things such as reduced fat peanut butter.
Corn syrup is only a third as sweet as sugar and is usually paired with other sweeteners.

People are quick to judge corn syrup and blame it for obesity problems in America, as it's the primary sweetener in sodas here. (Overseas, soda is sweetened with real sugar!) The corn industry rightly blames larger portions and the increase of processed foods for the obesity problem. So while HFCS is not a part of a healthful diet, it is not solely to blame for our poor eating habits. American are consuming gigantic jugs of high-calorie soda and processed, low-fiber foods, which perpetuate the obesity epidemic.
Fiber is a word that many people tend to avoid when talking nutrition because it -- ahem -- keeps us, um, regular. (Blush!) You see those silly commercials about fiber additives. That stuff is usually just psyllium husk or methylcellulose -- neither of which is digestible. It pretty much just makes you... yeah. Not feel great. If you eat a well-rounded diet, you shouldn't need these. (Let's hear it for whole grains.)
Fiber is a good thing, people! It's important for us. It keeps our digestive system healthy -- thus reducing the risk of colorectal cancers -- and helps lower cholesterol -- thus helping our hearts. According to the American Heart Association, the average American eats 15 grams of dietary fiber a day; that's about half the recommended amount. There are two types of fiber: soluble or digestible and insoluble or indigestible fiber. The latter is important for our digestive system. Consider it like an exfoliator for our innards. The former is key for lowering cholesterol.
So how can you get fiber? Here are some foods that are high in fiber*:
Soluble fiber:
oats (the highest of any grain; make sure you get whole oats or steel cut oats, not the quick-cooking ones!)
beans, soybeans, peas
apples, berries, bananas
broccoli, carrots
Insoluble fiber:
whole grains (whole wheat breads, brans, etc.)
nuts and seeds
green beans, beets, zucchini
Take care of your insides. Eat fiber.
Top Five fiber-rich foods (according to the know-it-alls at the Oregon State University Micronutrient Center)
5. Quinoa (9g/cup)
4. Asian pear (10 g)
3. prunes (yes, granny!... 12 g)
2. wheat bran (17 g)
and the winners are....
1. legumes (15-19 g)

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2 Comments:

At 04 April, 2007 18:15 , Blogger Abbie said...

Stepf,
Great blog... I enjoyed reading it!
I love my veggies, but damn, Twinkies are good! :)

 
At 12 April, 2007 00:13 , Anonymous Katie said...

dude, I don't even know what those top five fibers are...

 

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