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The Next Step: Carbs and Triglycerides!

February 27, 2013

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The alternate sweeteners of erythritol (sweetened with a bit of stevia) and xylitol in my primary daily drinks have helped me keep my blood sugar down. In the latest report from last month, the hemoglobin A1C was 7.0. Ideal is supposed to be like in the mid 6 range, IIRC, or less; that I think is the upper range. But it’s better than the 9.3 of over a year ago. (Fall, ’11, I was really pigging out on a lot of carbs and sugars, especially when IHOP opened nearby, and I was trying the new holiday pancake flavors, and I would get boxes of Little Debbie Banana Twins and pudding rolls, plus the routine individual Drakes’ or Hostess, and Cokes (when I heard it was good for sinuses), Dunkin Donuts’ seasonal pumpkin muffins and donuts, with usually a jelly donut thrown in for me to eat on the way to where I was going. At home, midday snack would be a half a tub of Stonyfield Farms vanilla yogurt —or a few smaller ones if that was finished; and then later tried to go “healthier” with granola bars; and agave or honey in my morning tea, and at work again, Lipton PureLeaf bottles for the middle of the day).
Last year, already trying to eat less of that stuff, when going to Dunkin, I got into their new plain french rolls (they seem surprised that I don’t put butter on it), figuring it was a healthier, less sugary/fatty alternative.

What the doctor was concerned about now, is that other figures are still high.
Cholesterol 226 (“Ref Range”, or what it’s “supposed” to be; 125-200)
HDL 39 (>40)
Cholersterol/HDL ratio 5.8 (<5.0)
and apparently the worst, triglycerides: 363 (<150).

So I wondered; what else could I be eating that's so bad? I have avoided really fatty stuff for a long time, and figured the sugar was causing everything, including the weight, tiredness, and other problems.

I begin seeing ads for this new book called Wheat Belly, by William Davis, MD (New York, Rodale, 2011). This resonated with me, because a belly has stuck with me for years. I first got one at 19, back in those days I would be packing away snack cakes, especially the Drakes, when coming home from college and not having them for months; and then finding other junk when I went back, plus, for the first time in my life, unlimited soda at the cafeteria fountain, plus all the bottles I was buying at other times (And this was at the time Cherry Coke first came out!)

I gradually lost it somehow within four years, by the time I had entered the Air Force. I was doing a lot of walking, which seemed to be the only change in my behavior, other than dropping pork, from the influence of the “Armstrongism” and Adventist movements which holds to Old Testament laws. Almost disgusted from having to grill burgers everyday for these obese airmen (while the service harassed the females about meticulous weight measures), I myself had practically stopped eating meat, and ate mostly rice and vegetables, but also, similar to the soda in the college cafeteria, gained access to unlimited ice milk floats. (And I would eat bread products too, of course).
So I gained the belly back by the time I got out, and this time could not lose it for anything. Not even a marathon 23 mile walk from Bronx to Brooklyn, and several 9 mile walks from central Brooklyn over the Brooklyn Bridge to Manhattan, along with even a few of those charitable walk-athons around Manhattan, and pounding the ground around the neighborhood for the ’90 Census, could get rid of it. So it stayed.

The title reminds me of “pink belly!“; which big Ed repeatedly shouted as he slapped Double D (Edd)’s belly to make him reveal the location of jawbreakers the whole cul-de-sac had assumed were the prize for a treasure hunt he gave them to improve their sorely lacking intellectual skills. (This was when he told them “ACORN becomes A TREE!…” The show, for those who don’t get it, is Ed, Edd & Eddy).

It seems the one thing I’ve never tried is to reduce is the wheat. So much focus was on sugar and fat, and when eating some [less sweet] bread (like a roll or something), you figure it’s not all sugary like cake, and it’s not fatty, so to pass up cake for that, I must be doing really good! A friend of mine years ago who was trying to lose weight mentioned she wanted to eat less bread. I figured I’d have to consider that some day, but the challenge for me was still not eating too much sweets. (She was pear-shaped, but eventually did become small; though I’m not sure if that was just age or whatever).

My father used to say it looked like I had a beer belly, and I wondered why. Someone once explained to me how a beer belly is formed, from the body not being able to process so much of the drink, so it just forms fat, or something like that. So, never drinking, I wondered if I was eating something that had the same effect. Sugar of course, produces fat, but I’ve never heard of it having quite that same effect.
But in light of this info, what is beer, but fermented wheat? This is another big clue that wheat is probably the problem.

The book says that whole grain bread has a glycemic index (the amount a food raises blood sugar to 90-120 minutes after it is consumed), that at 72 is higher than sucrose, or table sugar (59), or even Mars (68) or Snickers (41) candy bars; and even higher than the white bread (69) whole wheat is supposed to be so much better than! (p.8-9, 34) (The scale is set by glucose, at 100). In healthy people, two slices (of either white or whole grain) will raise the sugar level by 30mg/dl, and in diabetics, 20-120mg/dl over starting levels! Again, I eat a turkey sandwich for lunch, and think I’m probably doing good!

So the book is good, starting off by introducing us to modern wheat’s ancestor, another grass-family relative called “einkorn”, and how wheat was genetically modified in recent generations, so is less healthy than the ancient wheat. (Modern wheat is short, where older wheat is tall).
I learned a lot of stuff (some I’ll probably have to refresh myself on) regarding biology and health, which I was never interested in, and never paid any attention to, but now these health issues in the past year+ have forced me to become more aware of it. Like I got more of an idea what some of these figures on the blood report mean.
I also had started thinking of “gluten-free” products, but he shows these still have the same aspects of wheat that cause the problem, such as amylopectin A, and the starches (corn, rice, potato, tapioca) used in place of wheat gluten. I wondered about the “sprouted grains” (“Ezekiel 4:19” brand) we had tried awhile back, but like he says (p.158) “it’s still wheat”.

One thing I don’t quite get yet is the whole discussion of LDL particles being “too small” (rather than too plentiful, which is the impression I got, from this being the so-called “bad cholesterol”, where HDL was the “good”-cholesterol”. Calculated LDL for me was 114, with the ref. range being <130, though desirable range is <100 for diabetics without heart disease. The calculation was LDL = total – HDL – (triglycerides ÷ 5). So that's 226 – 39 – (363/5) = 114).
I don't think LDL particle size is represented on there.
The book points out that this formula was based on assuming HDL is 40 or more, and triglycerides 100 or less.

The book does sound a bit sensationalistic at times (makes wheat sound almost like poison, that must be given up completely, or all the problems will relapse). Long figuring corporate powers (bearing a lot of influence in government) might be apart of the problem, I liked p 56, where he mentions the “incredible financial bonanza that the proliferation of wheat in the American diet has created for the food and drug industries”, and asks, hypothetically

Did a group of powerful men convene a secret Howard-Hughesian meeting in 1955, map out an evil plan to mass-produce high-yield, low-cost dwarf wheat, engineer the release of government-sanctioned advice to eat “healthy whole grains”, lead the charge of corporate Big Food to sell hundreds of billions of dollars worth of processed wheat food products—all leading to obesity and the “need” for billions of dollars of drug treatments for diabetes, heart disease and all the other health consequences of obesity?

and says that while it sounds ridiculous, “in a sense, that’s exactly what happened”.
He even suggests that wheat is addictive (drawing a comparison to tobacco), and truth be told, this seems to be something I can probably testify to.

He provides all the data showing how as much as this “health” consciousness was promoted, Americans continued to get fatter and fatter in a few generations. Even those who follow diets, and have eliminated fats (including the much decried meats, eggs, and cheese), sugars, and even do a lot of exercise! (He advocates most of these foods, including even avocado and coconut oil, which I’ve always heard are really bad! He says “unlimited quantity”, even!)
Like the Merck & Co. pamphet Understanding and managing your Cholesterol, has the typical “Eat often” (picture of a loaf of bread, with fruits and vegetables), and “Eat rarely” (burger, fries, cola). “Eat a helathy diet” right under this says “Eat less saturated fats, usually found in fatty meat, milk and eggs”.

I have long noticed these conflicting claims, where certain kinds of foods are held to be so bad, but then all of a sudden, some study will be reported that it’s not so bad after all, and perhaps is actually healthy for you! Not only cheese, meat and eggs, but even chocolate! Eventually, someone will claim the previous views were really right all along. And back and forth it goes. (It’s suspected by some that the manufacturers of competing food products are behind these “studies”!) You had ice cream, which is a sugary, dairy “sweet”, but it was often included in pictures of “the four food groups”, making up the ideal diet!

Aside from this media rollercoaster, I realized that almost everything I put in my mouth is wheat! (Even with the great reduction in cake). Crackers or matzoh with almond butter as snacks all day, and nice portions of pasta for lunch (for work, leftovers packed into a 3 cup/710 ml container) and dinner (often with seconds and third!) Some lunches will be a couple of turkey sandwiches (usually on whole grain bread). Again, I feel because it’s not mac&cheese or fast food; I’m doing pretty well.

So I took this book seriously, and my wife worries that with other things, I’m overdoing it. But with all the wheat we’re eating, it has to figure in this. “Too much of anything is not good”, she herself has said. And if the product is already not too healthy, then all the more!
It’s true that to suddenly change all this stuff we’re buying and eating, as well as the recipies the book offers, are expensive; like the kind of stuff we see in fancy ambient midtown resturarants.

Wondering if at least I could somehow replace the crackers, at the very end of the regular text (before the recipe appendices), he listed three alternatives: Mary’s Gone Crackers, Sticks & Twigs “pretzels”, and Flackers. So I went to Whole Foods last night (to try lemon-lime “Twist” Zevia; drinking the black cherry, right now), and they had the first two, so I got them. Pretty good! Made with flaxseed and other such stuff.
Now, I’ll look into good, wheat-free alternatives to pasta. Then, I should be set. (I want to reduce, not completely eliminate wheat, and there’s a lot to replace for just a “Reduction”). I see some listed here:
In the recipes, he also has some sort of alternative “muffins” and such baked items. (Will have to read the ingredients).

The book even advocates stevia, erythritol and xylitol in its recipies (along with sucralose), and has a conversion list:
1 cup sucrose=
1 cup xylitol
1¹/3 cup erythritol
¼ cup [pure] stevia extract
¹/3 cup + 1½ tbsp Truvia
2 tbsp liquid stevia extract
1 cup stevia bulked with maltodextrin (Stevia in the Raw, etc).
1 cup Splenda

From → Health

  1. Posted a review on the book’s FB site. To answer my question about LDL particle size, one person pointed out it can only be determined via an advanced lipoprotein panel test like the VAP or NMR. (I apparently haven’t had those. Just the basic “Lipid”, “TSH”, “CBC”, “Comp Metabolic” and A1C “Panels”). The person also suggested Sinatra & Bowden’s book, The Great Cholesterol Myth, which would explain all of this. So I right away ordered it (Amazon), and got it in less than 24 hours! (Don’t remember having that happen before).

    Also, see that Zevia does have cherry cola, along with lime cola (loved Coke’s limited time version), and strawberry. Never see them in any Whole Foods, or any of the other stores I’ve seen Zevia in (Basically, Fairway and the little grocery “market” in a Bed, Bath & Beyond).

  2. The Great Cholesterol Myth agrees with Wheat Belly that arterial inflammation, and not cholesterol (which is problem when it becomes oxidized, and otherwise, is an “innocent bystander”) is the main culprit in heart disease, and is caused by carbs and not fats. It also puts a great emphasis on sugar (and doesn’t go as much into wheat as the other book).

    HDL is divided into HDL-2 and HDL-3. HDL2 particles are larger and more protective; HDL3 is smaller and denser and can cause inflammation.
    This parallels LDL, which is divided into LDL-A, LDL-B and Lp(a). A is larger and fluffy, and actually beneficial (like its HDL counterpart) rather than “bad”; B is smaller, denser and promotes artheroscerosis, and Lp(a) is very small, and highly inflammatory. It repairs damaged blood vessels by depositing LDL. Too much of it, will lead to excess deposits of LDL, leading to more inflammation and plaque.This is where plaque comes from, according to the book; not fats being directly deposited there, as was apparently assumed.

    I should point out, I have long noted, especially back when Olestra finally came out, that it was clear that fat was being focused on, but no one was addressing sugar. You had aspartame and saccharin of course (stevia and the polyols existed, but were virtually unheard of, unless you were really into exotic health food, perhaps), but nothing else aimed to curb sugar.

    In other news, I found a Fairway Market (Kips Bay) where I was able to buy the remaining three Zevia flavors I plan to try: lime and cherry cola, and strawberry. Drinking the strawberry right now.

    It’s funny, as at first that store said on the phone that they didn’t have the cherry cola. (I then began looking to order on Amazon, only they seem to have it in $27 cartons of 24). But the one on 86th had the cherry cola. So I set out to head to the upper East Side first, and then stop at Kips Bay on the way back. But the 45 express was delayed by a stalled train ahead, and then they even take the train I was on, sitting at 14th St., to “rescue” the other train. So everyone has to get on the 6 local. So I’m standing in the crowds, (not able to read The Great Cholesterol Myth I brought with me), and after two stops, being 28th St, which is the closest to the Kips Bay Store; I decide to reverse the planned circuit and go there first. I found they did have the cherry cola, and got all three flavors.
    (On the way back, I also found a vitamin store on Park Av. S. that has Now Foods xylitol packs (which I had been looking for before), and the 1 lb. bags of xylitol and erythritol (but a store in Ridgewood already ordered these two for me, for a bit cheaper), and also the Wholesome Zero packets, which have become harder to find).

    While I’m not a big fan of strawberry as a soda flavor,* this one was really good. (Again, all the fruit flavors are natural).
    *(To me, there’s “water” flavors, and “milk” flavors, and strawberry is on the “milk” side. Soda, Kool Aid, Jello and sherbet are “water”-based, while milk itself (of course), ice cream, egg cream and shakes and pudding are milk based. Strawberry is backward in some respects, as it’s extremely hard to find in pudding, but was the first and most popular Jello flavor, and a big Kool Aid mainstay as well, and I thought it didn’t fit. Cherry is much better for those. Like you never see grape or orange “milk”-based products! This I see can make a separate entry).

    Here are the 15 flavors ( in the rough order I tried all but two of them:
    Black Cherry
    Cream Soda
    Ginger Root Beer
    Ginger Ale
    Caffeine Free Cola
    Grapefruit Citrus
    Lemon Lime Twist
    Cherry Cola
    Lime Cola
    Dr. Zevia
    Mountain Zevia

    Now, I’m also finding another stevia soda, Blue Sky Zero, made with Truvia.
    This one has cola, lemonade, lemon-lime, Jamaican ginger ale, creamy root beer, cherry vanilla créme, “mandarin lime” (seems to be both orange and lime).
    I thought I might have seen these somewhere, but now I’m not finding them anywhere. (They also have a line of regular soda, made with sugar).

  3. What an in depth review and post Eric! I might need you to help me out over on my less-frequently updated-site, lol (but seriously if you’d like). From what it seems to me, you, like many other Americans, are under the impression that swapping out “this” for “that” is healthier, and to be honest, and I can totally understand why. Things are so deceptively packaged and marketed, so, to the lay-consumer, it’s not hard to see why one would think that a beverage touted as “sugar free” or a less sweetened bread would be a better, healthier option to the Little Debbie Banana twins. Even me, being a dietetic student and still confused by much of the information that hits the market. It kind of makes you wonder just how deep the rabbit hole goes in terms of this “incredible financial bonanza” that has been created in the food market. Wheat may definitely be a culprit, but the same can be said for sugar (now marketed under the guise of healthy in raw form or nectars), sugar substitutes, organic products (that truly may not bem depending upon which labeling they’ve paid for), and let’s not forget good ole Monsanto and what’s left of the Corn industry (corn is also in everything). Sometimes it does seem like you have to be a food scientist or know one so that they can help you understand what you may (or may not be) eating. I really enjoyed your post hun, although I will admit that I got lost and a little dizzy when I went the train ride with you! lol

  4. Thanks, and welcome to my space!
    Yeah, I thought an abbreviated version of the first article, listing the sugar substitutes (just remembered to add the link at the beginning, for reference) would go well on your site.
    That I had completely researched beginning in the fall, while the stuff I’m discussing in this article is still new to me, and I haven’t completely retained it yet. (The Cholesterol book is going further into it, and I’m still pretty much in the beginning of it).

    Yeah, I’ve always said you have to be a scientist to figure this stuff out.
    For now, I’m just trying something I’ve never done before (significantly reducing the sugar and wheat as much as possible), yet what always made it so hard is that I have such a sweet tooth, that “moderation” (as you had been suggesting) seems nearly impossible. So these substitutes (which are only becoming more known about now) seem to really come in handy, as a “springboard” to moderating.
    So I figure reducing both sugar and wheat, at least for a while, should really do something. And again, this book I’m reading now is putting more emphasis on sugar (whole chapter on that, I’ll get up to, soon), which as I noted above, was largely ignored.
    (Ironically, the big news today was the mayor trying to ban supersized sodas, which he’s been announcing for months, but it was overturned in court yesterday. He’s set to appeal).

    Even if these new substances might have some sort of effects that we have not discovered yet, as you warn (again, they have been used for centuries, though), still, if I’ve had so much sugar and wheat that it’s now having these effects, then I need to “cool it” for at least a little while, and let my body heal from it as much as possible; while this other stuff is still new to me, and not yet at the point where I’ve overindulged, as it was so easy to do with sugar and wheat. (I’m not going to simply overindulge in the new stuff now; it’s going to be a moderated mix of both).

    What I plan, is use this to get my sugar and triglycerides down (been working, slowly, so far), and see if this helps me lose weight, and afterwards, I could enjoy sugar and wheat at times, without having to worry about how far mg/dL numbers are going up. (I’m amazed at how serious I’ve become about this. Enjoyment of food is so important, I’ll do anything to remove a barrier to being able to enjoy. I never got into the old diet drinks, because the aftertastes made me not be able to enjoy them).

    Yeah, I’m a subway buff too, having grown up riding it. I now work in the system, though the job can be very irritating at times. It was when my A1C made them (by law, apparently) threaten to take me off my assigned jobs, yet put me on random non-passenger (yards, etc) jobs, most of them being like 4 or 5 AM (too early for me), that I was moved to really do something about this, last year.

    And yes, here in NY, the circled number and letter routes are the common way to identify lines. The most famous one being the A of Duke Ellington fame. (Never liked it. Too long; from one end of the city to the other).
    I see you have that historic trolley line down there.

  5. You’re right, the chemicals have been around for centuries, but it was also used scarcely, whereas now, there is an overabundance of these substances available on the market. My grandfather had “Sweet & Low” in his coffee and his cereal every morning for years and though he lived to be 86, he died of brain cancer. Do I think there was a link to the substances? Definitely. Can I prove it? Not at all. I do believe moderation is the key to anything, but I also understand that moderation can be very hard to do, especially when a person has become accustomed to eating certain things or eating a certain way. What most people fail to realize is that food can be an addiction. It is just as addicting as hardcore drugs and affects various receptors in our brains much the same way. I say do what you feel will work for you, just don’t trade one thing (sugar or wheat) for another (sugar substitutes) because they can ultimately end up affecting you the same way, if not worse. Seems to me you have the right idea.

    I’m glad to hear that you’ve become serious about this, it will definitely make a difference in the choices that you make. While a clean eating approach is probably the safest route to take, it may not always be the easiest and will take time before something so simple catches on. Our society loves to make mountains out of molehills. The Metabolic syndrome affects so many people and it’s very sad and scary that obesity is now a pandemic, but hopefully people will adopt a healthier lifestyle soon as opposed to succumbing to their unhealthy food addictions.

    Oh and I was serious about adding you as a contributor to my site, if you’d like to be. Email me back on my yahoo account and let me know if you’d be interested and I’ll get an account and password set up for you so you can post whenever you like over there.

  6. To sum up the main points I’m getting from The Great Cholesterol Myth, (particularly the chapters on sugar and fat):

    Fructose and glucose are metabolized differently, and glucose goes right into the bloodstream and then into the cells, while fructose goes right into the liver, where it is turned into fat (i.e. triglycerides, which seems to be my biggest problem right now). “‘When you consume fructose, you’re not consuming carbs’ says Robert Lustig, MD, professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. ‘You’re consuming fat’.” This can case a fatty liver, which can lead to insulin resistance. (p.70)

    It also describes the relationship of sugar and insulin (I’ve heard about all of this stuff, but didn’t know exactly how it works; like why if too much insulin is the problem, why insulin-resistance would be so bad).
    Insulin stores fat in the cells, and keeps blood sugar from going to high, while another hormone, glucagon, releases fat from the cells, and keeps blood sugar from going too low. This creates a delicate balance in the body.

    When blood sugar goes up when we eat, the insulin will round up the excess and escort it to the muscles, which “welcome” it as “fuel”, especially when we do some physical activity.

    With too much sugar, the pancreas sends out a lot of insulin, and yet the muscles dont need it (especially if we have a sedentary lifestyle). So the fat cells welcome it instead. “At first”. Then, the insulin “talks to the kidneys”, telling it to hold onto more salt, which increases the bood pressure and hypertension. Eventually, even the fat cells become resistant to these effects of insulin, and with nowhere else to go for the sugar, you end up with high amounts of it, along with insulin, in the blood, and “you’re on the way to full-blown diabetes” (p.56-59).

    Saturated fat does raise overall cholesterol, but it’s the HDL and the big, benvolent LDL particles (LDL-B and HDL-3, which have a more positive effect). (p. 79)
    Reduction of saturated fat that reduces LDL’s also reduces the big particles, shifting the proportion to the smaller inflammatory particles. When saturated fat intake goes up, the opposite happens. (p83)

    It mentions the difference between Low glycemic (vegetables) vs High glycemic (wheats, white rice, sugary drinks) carbs.

    Here’s the big one:
    Eating high amount of carbs causes body to hold on to the saturated fatty acids you’re also consuming; and they get stored in the body, rather than burned for energy. Meanwhile the extra carbs you’re eating get converted into more saturated fatty acids in the liver. This creates a serious excess of saturated fatty acids, which can lessen the anti-inflammatory actions of HDL. (p88)

    Also, the low fat, high carb diets most likely work from reducing omega-6s and because some of them are low in sugar, and the bad high glycemic carbs most people are eating; and even high-glycemic starches such as potatoes don’t contain a lot of fructose, the most metabolically dangerous of the sugars (p92)

    (So apparently, the health field looked at this abundance of saturated fat in people’s bodies (and the overweight epidemic in general), and assumed that it was the INTAKE of the fats itself that directly caused the problem). Hence the focus on eliminating fats to the near exclusion of everything else. Sounds like it figured. Surely, when you see some greasy grill, with hardened yellowish meat fats; surely that must clog us up! Yuck, who should want that in their body?
    So all of this explains what I’ve alwys wondered: the relationship of these other products besides direct fat to body “fat”, and why they seem to contribute just as much to it. This is what I had missed in thinking I was eating so much better by not eating as much fat, and why it didn’t work.

    The ultimate conclusion is that saturated fats such as lard end up healthier than vegetable oil; the omega-6 unsaturated fats! just as margarine turned out to be far worse than butter.(ibid.)

    That seems hard to believe.
    @Kay, if you’re still following, what do you think about that? How does it fit with what you’re learning in your study program? Or do the schools just follow the mainstream anti-fat “doctrine” as the book calls it? (Have you even heard of this book?)

    I guess there are other factors that could be getting skipped, like some people do still have problems with direct fat intake (like gall bladder problems); and I don’t want to start eating a lot of fat (the book pretty much favors Atkins), but hopefully, just lowering the bad carbs should do well for me.
    Still very hard to get rid of all the grain carbs. I was wondering if rice pasta might be better, but just comparing some to whole wheat pasta, the rice pasta actually has more carbs! The Wheat Belly people made it seem as if you had to go tee-total on it before you see any real results on body fat.
    I keep wondering if there are other factors that I might be overlooking as most important. Like Glycemic Index. That’s not usually included in nutrition information. I see Sam Mills is one who prints it; their gluten-free [corn-based] pastas have about 40g of carbs, but a GI of 33, which is “low”. (The rice pasts are around 42, and I was thinking that’s high).
    This site lists glycemic index and glycemic load, which is GI/100 x Net Carbs “GI’s of 55 or below are considered low, and 70 or above are considered high. GL’s of 10 or below are considered low, and 20 or above are considered high.”
    This site: points to a car/fiber ratio for [supposedly] whole grain breads. 6 grams of carbs to 1 gram of fiber. “If the bread has 24 grams of carbs per serving and 4 grams of fiber, the ratio is 6 to 1 — that’s good. If it has 44 grams of carbs and 2 grams of fiber, it’s 22 to 1 — not so good.”

    Well, I await the next blood report, next month, to see if I’m on the right track with the reduction I’ve already made in both sugar and wheat.

    In the meantime; I’ve gotten a couple of things I saw in the link in the main article: spaghetti squash, shiritaki noodles and bean pasta. All three are really thin, and what I’m worried about is both the taste and texture (hope it doesn’t just break apart when cooked and mixed with a topping. The shiritaki comes in water filled little bags).

  7. I never got around to reading the recipes in Wheat Belly, but planned to sometime (as The Great Cholesterol Myth had arrived, and I was eager to start reading that). There were several cake, muffin and cookie recipes, and I wondered what they would use instead. The usual alternatives to wheat; the so-called “gluten-free” products, generally use different starches, which the books says are also bad for the blood sugar.
    Yet yesterday, my wife makes a sort of banana bread, using almond flour (which I’m not sure I’d even heard of, or at least never paid it any mind). I check the book, and sure enough, that’s what those recipes used.

    It was delicious (though the way the texture was, it was very moist when still warm, and hard to tell if it was done. It got to a point where it seemed done, and I figured it would harden more when cooled, and this is what happened). We ate it all up!

    Great to know there is such a reasonably good alternative to wheat for cakes! She did put sugar in it, as I wasn’t home, to suggest one of my sweeteners. I had just finished the last of the xylitol, and decided to stick with erythritol, because of the laxation problem of xylitol. But the erythritol is not as sweet, recall, and I “fill it in” with a small amount of stevia, but she doesn’t like the aftertaste at all.
    We still planned to make chocolate cupcakes, and I figured I would have to get xylitol again for that, since erythritol doesn’t bond with the butter, from what I heard. (I’ll just have to be careful not to eat too much at once, including licking the mixing bowl. Or could erythritol possibly work with almond flour batter? I’ll have to search up on that).

    So if we do that with the almond flour and it works, we’d have a completely sugar and wheat free, super low-glycemic cake product that tastes good!

    I should also add, that years ago, my consciousness regarding sugar was first stoked by a book we had, Licking the Sugar Habit Nancy Appleton,(Avery Trade, 1988). It clued me in on how sugar created an imbalance in the body, leading the bowels to become overly acidic, and there was evidence of this I had noted. But I just wasn’t able to give it up at the time. In recent years, I also started getting gout, which again, is from acid in the body, getting into the muscles. Just bump your knee or foot, rub it, and soon, you can barely walk, as the joint becomes inflamed.
    Still couldn’t cool it.

  8. No, I’ve never heard of that book, but yes, that is pretty much what we’re learning, although what I find hilarious is that my professors still opt to push the low fat diet. I guess they look at it from the stand point of ppl choosing more plant based options, which is definitely probably the safest route to take, but many people have a tendency to go more towards fruit than they do veggies and when they do choose veggies, they are choices from the higher-glycemic index end.

    Oh, btw, I tried the shirataki noodles and was NOT a fan, but said that it was perhaps because of how I prepared them, so let me know what you think of them and I might give them another try.

    I absolutely LOVE spaghetti squash! I can make a mean casserole with it! Think im gonna get some this wknd!

  9. Great that they’re teaching this in school. (Though individual professors may be still indoctrinated with the old beliefs).

    So is spaghetti squash really like pasta? Does it taste good? Does it turn into mush easy (that’s the texture I’d expect from squash. I just saw a site that uses it for lasagna as well, somehow!)
    I was hoping we’d make some pesto I could try it with, but the blender just broke last night. 😦
    I also had it in the back of the refrigerator, and remembered it wasn’t refrigerated in the store, so I then took it out, but hope that didn’t mess it up.

    Just finished the chapter on stress, and it too explained a lot of things I never fully understood. It explains how the “fight or flight” hormones can react to daily stresses as if you’re being chased by a wild animal (which the system was basically designed for). The body then diverts blood, and the oxygen and nutrients from where it’s not needed (such as the digestive or reproductive functions, growth or sex hormones, etc.), to where it is more needed (the running muscles and heart). If all the adrenaline and cortisol secreted is not used for physical action, it can raise blood pressure and damage the blood vessels of the heart and brain. It can even deplete the immune system. With too much adrenaline, “The body can commit suicide by overstimulating the heart”. (p162)
    Then, the body makes more blood platelets, which stick together and form clots (to try to protect against too much loss, anticipating a wound), but of course, clots are what can block the arteries, including the one leading to the heart, causing a heart attack.

    The system also draws water from the kidneys, to make more blood, further raising pressure and hypertension.
    The vessels build up more muscle, making them more rigid. This leads to inflammation. This draws more inflmmatory cells, such a oxidized LDL. (So again, inflammation is so key to everything here as they have emphasized, rather than cholesterol levels).

    They cite studies that show stress, including lack of was the factor that made illnesses worse.
    Theyalso show that stress raises cholesterol! (p165-6) Now they’ve been arguing that cholesterol is not the real problem, but doctors often think it is, but perhaps are blaming its rise in people for whom the actual fault may really be stress.

    So this book is a great, easy to digest primer on health and the body!
    (I see in the next chapter, on what to eat and not eat, they say to dump sugar, but don’t seem to say what it can be replaced with, other than sugar-free sodas being “loaded with chemicals”. I wondered whether they would advocate stevia and the polyols like Wheat Belly did. As for stuff like wheat, they only say to dump processed carbs, like food that comes in a package, including cereals; and of course, also the ones associated with trans-fats, such as the cakes and other snack foods. They also point out whole wheat is just as bad on the blood sugar).

  10. Well, to be honest, if you go into it EXPECTING a pasta taste, you may be disappointed. Kinda like I was when I tried “cauli-tatoes” (seasoned, blended, mashed cauliflower) in hopes of a replacement for mashed potatoes..,did NOT work AT ALL! Talk about disappointment. So I won’t get your hopes up like that and say that it tastes JUST like pasta, but it can definitely be utilized as an alternative and the taste is very palatable to me. I’ve actually grown to love it, but I’m not sure if that is because I have always lived squash (even though the taste is very different from traditional yellow squash). I doubt that’s it and personally think it’s just good because zucchini is of the squash family and I most certainly and not a big fan….unless it’s deep fried! LOL.

    As far as refrigeration, that’s something I’ve never done with mine. I simply leave it on the counter until I am ready to cook it. I think the longest I’ve kept one in my home sitting out on the counter was two weeks and it was still fine. So I say give it a try, you might like it! I usually make mine into some sort of faux pasta dish by adding shrimp and/or chicken. If I’m in one of my vegetarian moods, I’d just bake it, scoop out the noodles, dump them in a bowl with some steamed broccoli, a little olive oil and mix well, then top with Parmesan cheese, a lil salt and pepper and bake it for about 12-20 mins. Talk about a delicious meal!!!! Okay, I am REALLY gonna have to go and get one soon!!! You see what you do every time we talk about food Eric? LOL

    • corrections:




      next time I will proof read before I hit “post comment” LOL

  11. Well, I guess pasta doesn’t have much of a taste in itself; which is what makes me fear that squash would have a totally foreign taste that doesn’t go well with many dishes. I’ve had regular squash sometimes, and was never really crazy about it, from what I can remember. Isn’t it kind of like between sweet potato and pumpkin?

    Didn’t know zucchini was related. Thought it was closer to cucumber. The Huffpost site I linked to above, also mentioned zucchini, and I guess I could imagine it filling in for pasta, though it might be more slimier?

    We had some casserole dish (probably from one of the cooking shows) that used cauliflower in place of potatoes, and I didn’t like it either. (The different texture, which is an infamous issue for Aspies).

    So, OK; I got it last Mon. when I was off, and will probably make it this coming Mon. when I’m off again, so it should be fine. Still firm and all. It has the simple little preparing/baking directions printed on a sticker, so maybe I’ll just do that to test it out, before trying it as part of a whole dish.

    I meant to add, you’ll probably like that book (I guess you’re learning all that, but it really packages it in a nice concise volume).

    The next one I’m considering: Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us (Michael Moss, just came out a couple weeks ago from Random House). With the preview Amazon gives, I see right off the bat, it discussing those corporate “secret Hughesian meetings” Wheat Belly speculated on!

    • Yes, it is reminiscent of a sweet potato, which, again, would probably explain why I like it so much. Butternut squash tastes almost identical to sweet potato and is definitely a favorite.

      I purchased and prepared one Sunday and finished it up yesterday. We talked about it so much, I couldn’t resist. If you’ve made it by now, what did you think of it?

      Never tried the zucchini pasta thing, I think I’ll pass on that one.

  12. Made the spaghetti squash yesterday, and it was great! At least as far as taste. Had one half (about two servings) yesterday for lunch, and finished the other half for today’s lunch. (With my Zevia, of course).
    It has as minute a taste as pasta, so it didn’t matter if that barely noticeable taste was “different” from pasta. (So it was really nothing like sweet potato, to me, thankfully!)

    The texture was the biggest issue, as it was a bit crunchy (somewhat like typical vegetable. Recall, I was worried about the opposite; that it would be mushy, like regular squash).
    Apparently the crunchiness is what a lot of people ask about, and the solution is to bake it longer. I had already tried leaving one half in longer, but was afraid of drying it completely out, and it was starting to look like it was burning on the bottom where it rested on the baking pan. Apparently the trick is to not cut it open, and to bake it in some water.

    Fairly easy to scoop out (at least the top strands), and they hold their form.

    So at first, I tried the first serving with butter, salt and pepper as the sticker recipe said, and that was great all by itself! Then, I broke out and unthawed some old spaghetti sauce, and crushed some leftover turkey meatballs we had recently. It looked weird on the yellowish “angel-hair”-like strands, but tasted as good as regular spaghetti, save for the crunchiness.
    I can tell it will be perfect with pesto. (We plan to squeeze replacing the blender into the budget, soon).

    So it’s close enough for me, though I still have to try the two shiritaki noodles next. (Wish there was something shaped like ziti, since that’s the pasta we eat the most).

  13. Tried both packs of shiritaki noodles. The first, “angel hair” style, was House Foods’ Tofu Shiritaki, and the other one, Nasoya’s Pasta Zero Plus spaghetti style shiritaki.

    I noticed on the first one, in the instructions, it said to parboil or microwave, “to reduce the authentic aroma”. Opening the pack, it was like a faint fish smell.

    Simple to make, you just drain, rinse, I microwaved, and then try to drain out all the water. We had tried shopping at Trader Joe’s, and I bought a small jar of pesto sauce since the new blender hadn’t arrived yet.
    It looks slimy in the package of water (she won’t touch the stuff!), and I can’t say it’s slimy out of the water, but the texture overall is funny. I guess like tofu, from what I’ve seen. The pesto didn’t taste as good as my wife’s (which she got from either Rachael Ray, or one of the other cooks on Food Network).

    Next, I did the spaghetti version, which I see has potato starch (in addition to something called konjac flour, and chick pea flour. Wheat Belly, recall, says potato starch is still not good. I’m sure chick pea flour is OK, and I’m not sure about the other one. It’s like a kind of yam, so maybe it too is too much carbs?)

    I finished the spaghetti sauce I had used on the spaghetti squash, and crushed up another of the meatballs, and have some noodles left over. They are slightly translucent (I saw some totally clear “noodles” at Whole Foods, when I was buying this). Tasting this one, and packing the rest for another day, it was almost OK, hard to cut with the fork, and again, it has the potato starch (both say 0g sugars, and the tofu says 4g carbs, while the spaghetti one says 3g. These carbs come mostly from fibers.

    Also finally found some broccoli slaw at the Trader Joe’s. (It was one of the other alternatives suggested by the site I linked in the main article). The broccoli stalks have been cut to be thin, almost like spaghetti, but are still shorter and less flexible, so wouldn’t be a good replacement for pasta. So I just made it up like regular coleslaw (mayo, vinegar, salt, pepper, mustard powder). I’ll be sticking with spaghetti squash as the replacement for pasta (we got a second one now!)
    The slaw tastes the same; the broccoli is just thicker than cabbage strips.

    Next blood report will probably be ordered this month. Whenever they tell me to report to the Medical Assessment Center. I plan to ask my doctor about those two panels that indicate cholesterol molecule size, and if it can be covered under the plan.

  14. Wife made the second squash as a chicken dish (with pieces of cutlets, it seems, and onions and parmesan; usually makes this with penne rigati pasta). She didn’t like it, but it’s fine to me. Tastes almost just as good as the dish with pasta. Just looks like sauerkraut (yecch!), or blends in with the browned onions.

    • kasindadavid permalink

      so glad to hear you enjoyed the squash!

  15. Thanks!

    For some reason, I glossed over one of the pasta alternatives mentioned in the Huffpost link above, which is quinoa. It’s “grain-like” and a “pseudocereal rather than a true cereal, or grain, as it is not a member of the true grass family”. (Wikipedia) For some reason, I feared it was still “too close” to the grains. (Yet, checking again, it “is closely related to species such as beets, spinach and tumbleweeds”). Also, since it’s such a small grain, I didn’t think it would be a good replacement of pasta.
    But my wife began buying it, and I had remembered the name but forgotten why I passed it over (thinking it still had too many of those grain carbs), but it’s pretty good, but more like a replacement of rice. (The grains are really small, almost like grits). We have it with cut up white meat chicken, and little pieces of broccoli, pretty much like [Chinese] chicken fried rice. So that’s what it reminds me of, and I would be putting soy sauce on it if we hadn’t run out.

    She also got quinoa spaghetti, which is quinoa and corn flour. But it’s actually 46g of carbs per 2oz, while the whole wheat spaghetti we have is just 35g. There’s also a bunch of rice pasta we had gotten, but then I said “whoah!” to it when seeing it similarly had more carbs. (Can’t even tell what kind of rice it’s made with; brown or white, to get a sense of the actual GI, but either way, the GL is probably high!)

    I’m still eating some rice (like right now, with bacalao; one of my favorites), so maybe it’s not worth being so picky. Perhaps if we can spread it out so that it’s not so many carbs at once.
    I still hope this has some effect compared with before. I should find out sometime this month!

    In any case, there’s also a pack of soybean spaghetti, which I forgot about, and that seems much healthier in comparison’ only 16g of carbs!

    Wanting to check the glycemic index of quinoa, I ran across this site: which says it is among the lowest. But then it also says whole grains (qualifying that “all whole grain breads and crackers will have at least a low moderate index”), and rye, barley, bulgur, and the sprouted grains. It also says “Quinoa, rye and oats also clean the arteries.”, and that “The low glycemic complex carbohydrates actually need to make up half of our diets! They belong in a diabetic diet because they are diabetic foods. We need high carb diets but the healthy kind, the ones on this low glycemic food list.”

    With the other sources seeming to rule out much of even this stuff (or not clarify this much regarding the GI of carbs), all of this can make the head swim!

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