Tuesday, March 18, 2014

When bad nuts happen to good people

Time is passing by and I refuse to be another blog death statistic. But other obligations happen. It's one thing to miss most of Purim, but I also missed National Registered Dietitian Day! Apologies to my "grass is greener" fellow service profession! Happy Day to you all, you men and women who make a difference in our health and wellness.

The Dietitian (center) with fellow staff members from the Utah State Insane Asylum, 1914 from the Utah Valley University Archives via the Digital Public Library of America.

Hey look, separated at birth!

"Jacob Edwards Librarian with cat in Southbridge Massachusetts" from the Jacob Edwards Library via DPLA
Maybe during the upcoming National Library Week, we'll invite some RDs over for petticoat bleaching and cat tricks.

I have still been reading and saving research for suitable blog topics, even when more "light" news makes its way into my feeds. Hey, look, my home borough is now considered the most obese in NYC! (At least according to it's borough president). I will say that Staten Island is probably the least walkable part of NYC, in relations to commuting and day-to-day errands. That's the sacrifice you make for having trees and wetlands (and the former city landfill).

But let's look at the diet again. I was always a big nut fan, so incorporating more of those into my healthier food intake was not so big of a stretch. However, I did try to make an effort to stick to the plainest nut selections I could find. Unsalted or lightly salted and no added spicy-sweet-coated-extra stuff. Part of this was to acclimate my taste to more "natural" flavors. And sure enough, it sort of worked. I only buy peanut butter that has one ingredient: peanuts. And all other "normal" peanut butter now tastes like frosting to me. (Which can be dangerous, because we all know about my strange frosting binge addiction).

But I also try to shy away from the other flavored nut mixes, because, be they salty or sweet, they tend to make me crave more. And more. And even more. But plain nuts, while tasty, don't send me into a binge tailspin. Sometimes there might be bored mindless eating, but that's easier to control.

So I was interested in this recent study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition on the effects on flavorings in regards to peanut consumption. The results showed that there wasn't much health difference between plain unsalted peanut ingestion compared to salted, spicy or honey-roasted flavors. In fact, the showed what one might imagine when you eat some peanuts on a daily basis: increase of "good cholesterol", decent maintenance of weight and not even a marked increase in glucose levels with the honey-roasted. The conclusion? Hey, peanuts aren't so bad no matter what. 

Of course the big difference here between the casual peanut muncher and the control groups is that the latter were given a pre-packaged 42g serving of nuts which came to about 240-255 calories, depending on type of peanut. So they are eating what most peanut companies show as the recommended serving size of peanuts (which is about 1 oz.). However, if we look at the Planters website, their dry roasted nuts come in 6 oz. bags, 12 oz. cans and 16 oz. jars.

That bag is almost 1,000 calories. The jar is over 2,500 calories. I know if a bag of salted or honey roasted peanuts comes my way, I'm going to eat that entire "wee" 6 oz. bag. And if there's a jar in the house, well... there's a lot of trips back to it. 

Because even their regularly salted peanuts have extra sugar and spices on them. And that's what I start craving.The tailspin begins!

So, this study, while possibly helping the peanut industry show that it doesn't hurt to add on the stuff to the nuts, doesn't hold water in real life situations. 

Yes, nuts are healthy and a better daily snack than say, cupcakes or deep fried mac 'n' cheese balls. But too much of anything is too much. And most of us don't control our snacking urges so well. So, if there's a jar of peanuts, I'd rather it was unsalted and easier to leave behind. 

So in belated honor of that Dietitian in the Insane Asylum (which sounds like a great name for band), I raise my proportionally correct portion of completely additive-free nuts to you. Hold the honey.


Jones, J. B., Provost, M., Keaver, L., Breen, C., Ludy, M.-J., & Mattes, R. D. (2014). A randomized trial on the effects of flavorings on the health benefits of daily peanut consumption. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 99(3), 490–496. doi:10.3945/ajcn.113.069401
The Unhealthiest Borough: 75% of Staten Islanders Overweight, BP Says - St. George - DNAinfo.com New York. (n.d.). DNAinfo New York. Retrieved March 18, 2014, from http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20140317/st-george/unhealthiest-borough-75-of-staten-islanders-overweight-bp-says

No comments:

Post a Comment