Monday, December 28, 2009

Biased Reports

Now that Santa has come and gone and we don't need to worry about being good for another year, I can stop worrying that I might say something unkind in a season of joy and get back to sniping about the biased reporting we see every day.

This time it's a study suggesting that a diet high in methionine might increase your risk of Alzheimer's disease. According to the ScienceDaily summary, foods typically high in methionine include red meats, fish, beans, eggs, garlic, lentils, onions, yogurt, and seeds.

So does the researcher interviewed for the article suggest that people eat less fish, beans, lentils, and garlic?

Of course not. Instead he blames the problem on red meat:

"But people who have a diet high in red meat, for instance, could be more at risk because they are more likely to develop this high level of circulating homocysteine, [lead researcher Domenico Pratico] said."

Well, he did at least say "for instance," but you know that most readers will come away with the idea that "artery-clogging red meat" will cause Alzheimer's, and they'll forget that fish, beans, lentils, and garlic may have the same effect.

Sometimes I think it's hopeless. These people aren't real scientists, who seek the truth, whether it's what they were expecting or not. Instead, these people start out with a preconception of what healthy eating is and then do experiments to try to prove they're right. When the answers don't come out the way they want them to, sometimes they don't publish them.

I was once in a study of the cholesterol-lowering drugs Lipitor vs Zocor. At the time, Lipitor was gaining market share, and the Zocor people hoped to prove that even though Lipitor might be better for the general public, Zocor would be better for people with diabetes.

However, according to a nurse, it turned out that Lipitor worked better for the people with diabetes. And as far as I know, the results of this study have never been published.

I hope the people who read this blog are smarter than average and know how to read between the lines in these popular science reports.

We'll never get the answers if we have to rely on these biased popular reports.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Quick Chocolate Cake

The holiday season is difficult for many of us, as we watch our friends gobble down allegedly delicious holiday foods. So I thought I'd mention an instant LC chocolate cake recipe I got somewhere. Can't remember where, so I can't give credit.

The nice thing about this recipe is that it's incredibly fast, so if you suddenly get hit by a yen for something sweet and chocolate but you wisely don't keep stuff like that in the house, you can whip up a batch of this in minutes.

1/4 cup nut flour (or wheat bran or rice bran)
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3 to 5 packets of sweetener
2 tablespoons melted butter, or sour cream
1 tablespoon water or DaVinci syrup, any flavor)
1 egg

Mix everything together in a 2-cup microwavable glass cup and cover with plastic wrap. Cut a small slit in the center of the wrap to vent. Put in microwave for about a minute.

That's it! I'm lazy, so I usually don't bother to cover with plastic wrap and it turns out OK. I also don't see a reason to waste the DaVinci syrup, as this is plenty sweet (5 packets of sweetener made it too sweet for me), and the chocolate flavor is intense so who needs more?

You can gussy this up by adding chunked nuts. Or you could add a LC icing or swirls of whipped cream.

I never particularly liked chocolate cake; I was more of an icing person. And I preferred fruit pie to cake. But I do occasionally feel chocolate-dessert deprived, and then I whip up a batch of this and feel satisfied for another month or so.