Vegetables Less Healthy than Fried Chicken? Don’t Fall for Clickbait Headlines
Catchy headlines equal clicks, clicks equal readers, and readers equal money. It’s a formula the ever-changing news industry uses more frequently, as newsrooms get smaller and readers move quickly to the next trending topic.
So it’s no surprise that when PloS One published a study that offered the counterintuitive assertion that vegetarians are unhealthy, news outlets jumped in with “clickbait” headlines.
No, it wasn’t true. But it was a very clickable message. And in case you were drawn into that headline, here’s the truth behind it:
An Austrian research team wanted to see how different diets affected health. But because they did not have enough vegetarians to study, they lumped together people eating fish and people who ate meat only occasionally—and called them all “vegetarians.” And, indeed, this group looked less healthy overall than the dyed-in-the-wool carnivores.
However, the study looked at individuals during a snapshot in time and did not separate cause and effect. For example, individuals with health problems who adopted a fish/vegetarian diet in hopes of losing weight or curing heart disease were lumped in with others who had followed a fish/vegetarian diet for many years. The researchers themselves note this on page six:
“Potential limitations of our results are due to the fact that the survey was based on cross-sectional data. Therefore, no statements can be made whether the poorer health in vegetarians in our study is caused by their dietary habit or if they consume this form of diet due to their poorer health status.”
Large prospective studies and randomized clinical trials showed just the opposite: vegetarians have much better health, compared with non-vegetarians. They have lower rates of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and lower BMIs. The Physicians Committee’s recent multicenter GEICO study also showed better quality of life. Another recent study showed that eating seven servings of fruits and vegetables per day increases longevity.
So if someone at the water cooler starts telling you about how they’ll be swapping their smoothies for sausage patties, let them know that just because it’s trending, doesn’t mean it’s true.
Colorectal Cancer: Raise Awareness of the Solution, Not Just the Problem
March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, but just because March is ending, doesn’t mean that colorectal cancer will simply disappear. To raise awareness one month out of the year, some folks will buy rubber wristbands. Others will put magnetic ribbons on their car or wear dark blue on Tuesdays. While the intentions are noble, they won’t actually decrease anyone’s risk of colorectal cancer. But there is one simple change everyone should make that can dramatically reduce the risk of colorectal cancer: ditching processed meat.
The evidence is clear—processed meat causes colorectal cancer. Processed meat products are “meats that have been preserved by smoking, salting, curing or adding other preservatives.” This includes hot dogs, bacon, pepperoni, ham, and deli meats. Unfortunately, all of these are common items found on restaurant menus, in school cafeterias, and even in hospitals. Raising awareness about colorectal cancer involves spreading the word about the dangers of putting pepperoni on pizza, serving bologna on lunch lines, or hawking hot dogs at a baseball game. It takes more than ribbons and t-shirts to make a difference—it involves making a change and encouraging your loved ones to do the same, or even writing letters to local restaurants and asking them to take cancer-causing dishes off their menus.
From now on, instead of shelling out cash for a wristband you’ll just toss on April 1st, how about skipping processed meat? Or if you’re ahead of the game and have already eliminated these products from your diet, share our infographic illustrating all of the dangers of processed meat and convince a friend to Drop the Dog. Spread the word and save a life.
(Click for full-size image.)
The Shameful Sham of Shamrock Shakes
Every March, McDonald’s releases its Shamrock Shake in dubious honor of St. Patrick’s Day. This dairy-and-syrup-heavy minty green beverage is supposed to make the month extra-festive. However, with 12 grams of saturated fat, nearly a quarter of your daily maximum cholesterol, and 660 calories, shake guzzlers will need the luck o’ the Irish to keep the jig in their step afterwards.
Using chemical coloring and corn syrup to make a high-cholesterol dairy item match the month’s color scheme? It’s enough to make a banshee wail! There are so many naturally green foods that are actually good for you. Green apples, kale, broccoli, pistachios, honeydew melon, kiwis—they all create a nutritional pot of gold.
With dairy’s connection to certain cancers, don’t try your luck with the Shamrock Shake. Instead, start spring off on the right foot with our Green Goddess Smoothie. Or for a more decadent treat, check out The Edgy Veg’s Vegan Mint Milkshake!
Green Goddess Smoothie
Makes 5 1-cup servings
1 orange, peeled
1 cup grapes
1 pear, cored
1 cup soy, almond, or rice milk
2 cups fresh kale or spinach
ice cubes (optional)
Place all ingredients in the blender for 1 minute, or until desired smoothness is achieved.
Add ice cubes, if using, and process further to desired temperature.
Per 1-cup serving:
- Calories: 110
- Fat: 1.1 g
- Saturated Fat: 0.2 g
- Calories from Fat: 8.5%
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
- Protein: 3.1 g
- Carbohydrates: 24.5 g
- Sugar: 14.9 g
- Fiber: 3.8 g
- Sodium: 36 mg
- Calcium: 99 mg
- Iron: 1 mg
- Vitamin C: 33.1 mg
- Beta Carotene: 2464 mcg
- Vitamin E: 1.2 mg
Source: Katherine Lawrence, owner of www.plantbasedhealth.com