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BrianMDelaney

CR Staple Food

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Friends,

After nearly a year on "edge CR", I've decided I need to back off a bit, and up my CR calorie-intake target. For reasons I won't go into here, I want to add something that's low-fat, fairly low GI, relatively cheap, and reasonably nutritious. This post is addressed to finding this low-fat "staple" food. A similar question was sent to me off-list: The Okinawans eat something like 800 calories of sweet potato/day: is that a good CR staple food? -- and what other options are there?

For me, it's not just that I want to add to my existing diet, I also want to replace some of the fat in my existing diet (until recently I was consuming 75-80 g olive oil/day!) with something low fat. Basically, I'd like a staple food I can have around the house to munch on to keep from sinking back into a level of CR that's a bit too extreme.

Cruciferous vegetables -- which fit the above criteria -- are fairly cheap here in Sweden, but I'm already consuming 400g/day (most raw), and I don't want to exceed that. But I'm honestly not sure how much one should worry about goitrogens -- the only reason I'm not eating more. There's not a lot of good evidence one way or another on goitrogens. For now I'm going with my gut feeling that a pound of brassica/day should be my limit.

Bell peppers would be ideal were it not for the price (with bell peppers, I would insist on eating only organic). Same for zucchini: the cost ends up being 3.8 cents/calorie. (All prices are what I pay here in Sweden.) This adds $1000 to my yearly budget if I eat 100 calories of them instead of, say, sweet potatoes or carrots.

Various tomato products are around 1.92 cents/calorie.

Sweet potatoes and carrots end up being around 70 cents/calorie.

Sweet potatoes require a lot of preparation.

So I sort of settled on carrots: easy to prepare, I love them, they're reasonably nutritious, and, raw, at least, don't have a really high GI (though not really low, I know). My health is worth $1000/year, but if I don't need the extra nutrients that I'd be getting in bell peppers, zucchini, asparagus, or the other alternatives, why not make carrots my calorie-filler food?

BUT, then I noticed they have much more cysteine than all the other possible staples I've been considering. 100 calories of carrots (244 g) has nearly the full RDA of cysteine. I'm trying to limit methionine + cysteine. So now I'm not sure whether carrots would make a good staple food.

Anyway, have other people gone through a similar reasoning process in looking for a staple food, or something to easily get their weight back up? I know Dean settled on bananas, which might not be a bad idea for me, even though they've got a higher GI than I'd like. One doesn't need to choose just one staple, of course. But I'd like to start with a conclusion about what would be best, and then decide how to blend other possible staples in with it.

Brian

Edited by BrianMDelaney

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Various tomato products are around 1.92 cents/calorie.

Have you COMed your diet? If you take the tomato product/lycopene epidemiology, reconsider tomato products (especially cooked ones) if your intake of the latter is <10 mg/d.

 

Sweet potatoes require a lot of preparation.

I can only imagine that you are trying to bake them, old-school. I haven't eaten sweet potatoes except for Christmas and Thanksgiving for many years now, but they really are pretty easy to prepare: baking isn't hard (tho' it's a waste of energy to run an oven just for that, and do at least require a lot of time), but it's dead easy to microwave them (in a closed dish with a bit of water) and not much more trouble to cut and boil them (make sure you consume the liquid).

 

So I sort of settled on carrots ... BUT, then I noticed they have much more cysteine than all the other possible staples I've been considering. 100 calories of carrots (244 g) has nearly the full RDA of cysteine. I'm trying to limit methionine + cysteine. So now I'm not sure whether carrots would make a good staple food.

 

I hadn't looked at the Cys content of carrots until you brought it up (thanks!), but you're right: at least per USDA, it is really high. I suspect that may be some kind of error, however. First, the Cys listed for baby carrots (by which I take it they mean real baby carrots, not the chopped, peeled adult carrots misleadingly marketed as "baby-cut carrots" or even "baby carrots"), boiled carrots, and frozen carrots all show Cys content much more in line with their Met content; it's possible that something happens as carrots mature that dramatically (and disproportionately) increases their Cys content, and that Cys is selectively degraded by both freezing and boiling, but that seems unlikely. Second, you'd think you would notice a more sulfrous taste or odor if they contained that much Cys. Third, while unfortunately neither the UK nor the Japanese food databases give info on aminos, this poster presentation cites a source indicating that the Met+Cys content of carrots is roughly in line with other fruits and vegetables. And finaally, it would just be damned surprising for any plant-based food to contain that much of a sulfur-containing AA.

 

Additionally, for such a humble vegetable, there is actually a significant body of epidemiological evidence that carrots and/or α-carotene (in which carrots are distinctively rich) reduce total and CVD mortality, as well as risk of lung, breast, and prostate cancer.(1-9) (though see (10). They used to be on the World Cancer Research Fund-American Institute for Cancer Research's "short list" of anti-cancer foods, before it was substantially curtailed in the last report.

 

At half a pound a day and nearly a full RDA of Cys, however (which, NB, is actually the RDA for Met+Cys combined), I would fully understand it if you just didn't want to take the risk, of course.

 

References

1: Min KB, Min JY. Serum carotenoid levels and lung cancer mortality risk in US adults. Cancer Sci. 2014 Mar 26. doi: 10.1111/cas.12405. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 24673770.

 

2: Xu X, Cheng Y, Li S, Zhu Y, Xu X, Zheng X, Mao Q, Xie L. Dietary carrot consumption and the risk of prostate cancer. Eur J Nutr. 2014 Feb 12. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 24519559.

 

3: Umesawa M, Iso H, Mikami K, Kubo T, Suzuki K, Watanabe Y, Mori M, Miki T, Tamakoshi A; JACC Study Group. Relationship between vegetable and carotene intake and risk of prostate cancer: the JACC study. Br J Cancer. 2014 Feb 4;110(3):792-6. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2013.685. Epub 2013 Oct 29. PubMed PMID: 24169341; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3915106.

 

4: Aune D, Chan DS, Vieira AR, Navarro Rosenblatt DA, Vieira R, Greenwood DC, Norat T. Dietary compared with blood concentrations of carotenoids and breast cancer risk: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 Aug;96(2):356-73. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.112.034165. Epub 2012 Jul 3. Review. PubMed PMID: 22760559.

 

5: Li C, Ford ES, Zhao G, Balluz LS, Giles WH, Liu S. Serum α-carotene concentrations and risk of death among US Adults: the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey Follow-up Study. Arch Intern Med. 2011 Mar 28;171(6):507-15. doi: 10.1001/archinternmed.2010.440. Epub 2010 Nov 22. PubMed PMID: 21098341.

 

6: Larsson SC, Bergkvist L, Wolk A. Dietary carotenoids and risk of hormone receptor-defined breast cancer in a prospective cohort of Swedish women. Eur J Cancer. 2010 Apr;46(6):1079-85. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2010.01.004. Epub 2010 Jan 28. PubMed PMID: 20116235.

 

7: Kabat GC, Kim M, Adams-Campbell LL, Caan BJ, Chlebowski RT, Neuhouser ML, Shikany JM, Rohan TE; WHI Investigators. Longitudinal study of serum carotenoid, retinol, and tocopherol concentrations in relation to breast cancer risk among postmenopausal women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Jul;90(1):162-9. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2009.27568. Epub 2009 May 27. PubMed PMID: 19474140.

 

8: Buijsse B, Feskens EJ, Kwape L, Kok FJ, Kromhout D. Both alpha- and beta-carotene, but not tocopherols and vitamin C, are inversely related to 15-year cardiovascular mortality in Dutch elderly men. J Nutr. 2008 Feb;138(2):344-50. PubMed PMID: 18203902.

 

9: Ito Y, Kurata M, Suzuki K, Hamajima N, Hishida H, Aoki K. Cardiovascular disease mortality and serum carotenoid levels: a Japanese population-based follow-up study. J Epidemiol. 2006 Jul;16(4):154-60. PubMed PMID: 16837766.

 

10: Zhang J, Dhakal I, Stone A, Ning B, Greene G, Lang NP, Kadlubar FF. Plasma carotenoids and prostate cancer: a population-based case-control study in Arkansas. Nutr Cancer. 2007;59(1):46-53. PubMed PMID: 17927501.

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Michael,

 

Thanks for the reply.

 

My lycopene intake is a touch under 10mg/day, so, yes, I should add more (cooked) tomato products (I typically have around 20 cals worth/day as it is).

 

About sweet potatoes: No, I "boil-steam" them: small amount of water, stirring occasionally, so that most of the food is above the water level most of the time. And yes, I consume the water! It's not too much work, but I find I'm spending so much time in the kitchen.... Peeling and chopping does take more time than scrubbing a carrot.

 

I don't own a microwave oven, but that would certainly save time in lots of ways. I should probably get one.

 

Thanks for reminding me of the subdivinity of the USDA database (of all such nutrient databases, really), and of one of the ways of double-checking the accuracy of a suspect value.

 

Another carrot product showing much less cys is "11130, Carrots, frozen, unprepared":

 

http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2953?fg=&man=&lfacet=&count=&max=&sort=&qlookup=&offset=&format=Full&new=&measureby=

 

And the source of the data is "analytical or derived from analytical":

http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2953?fg=&man=&lfacet=&count=&max=&sort=&qlookup=&offset=&format=Stats&new=&measureby=

 

Whereas the source of the data for raw carrots is "Aggregated data involving combinations of source codes 1 &12":

http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2949?fg=Vegetables+and+Vegetable+Products&man=&lfacet=&count=&max=25&sort=&qlookup=&offset=75&format=Stats&new=&measureby=

 

-- which seems less believable; though I have to figure out what "source codes" mean, and look up 1 and 12. (Not obvious from the manual.)

 

Do you happen to know anything about these source codes? (If it's obvious I'll find it with enough looking around.)

 

 

Occurs to me it would be nice for hte CR Society to have a perl script or something on its Web page where people could enter cost per weight of a food item and get info about cost per calorie, and perhaps a basic "how (generally speaking) nutritious" the food is per calorie.

 

Brian

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About sweet potatoes: No, I "boil-steam" them: small amount of water, stirring occasionally, so that most of the food is above the water level most of the time. ... Peeling and chopping does take more time than scrubbing a carrot.

That does seem like a PITA. Try not peeling them: lotsa nutrients in the skin, and not unpleasing to eat, esp. if mashed. And see if you can get satisfactorily away with either steaming them in a steaming basket, or simmering with minimal water and a covered lid for a pre-defined time without active monitoring (after a couple of experiments).

 

I don't own a microwave

Really? Why not? Gosh: aside from dried pulses, I almost never cook in anything BUT the microwave.

 

Thanks for reminding me of the subdivinity of the USDA database

:)

 

Another carrot product showing much less cys is "11130, Carrots, frozen, unprepared"

That was what I meant by "frozen carrots." Precision of citation is always wise :) .

 

And the source of the data is "analytical or derived from analytical":

http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2953?fg=&man=&lfacet=&count=&max=&sort=&qlookup=&offset=&format=Stats&new=&measureby=

 

Whereas the source of the data for raw carrots is "Aggregated data involving combinations of source codes 1 &12":

http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2949?fg=Vegetables+and+Vegetable+Products&man=&lfacet=&count=&max=25&sort=&qlookup=&offset=75&format=Stats&new=&measureby=

 

-- which seems less believable; though I have to figure out what "source codes" mean, and look up 1 and 12. (Not obvious from the manual.)

 

Source Code File (file name = SRC_CD). This file (Table 10) contains codes indicating the type of data (analytical, calculated, assumed zero, and so on) in the Nutrient Data file. To improve the usability of the database and to provide values for the FNDDS, NDL staff imputed nutrient values for a number of proximate components, total dietary fiber, total sugar, and vitamin and mineral values.

(Here).

 

The Source Code File contains codes to give the user an indication of the type of data (i.e. analytical, calculated, assumed zero, etc.) in the Nutrient Data File. In versions of the SR prior to SR11 there was not a separate field to indicate the type of data in the file. The standard error field was used for this purpose. If there was a value in the standard error field, the nutrient value was based on analytical data. If the value with no standard error was published in the printed sections of Handbook 8, a -1 was placed in this field. If a value was missing from the printed Handbook section, but was imputed for SR, then a -4 was placed in the standard error field. For breakfast cereals, where values for added nutrients were based on the label declaration from the manufacturer, a code of -5 was placed in the field.[!]

 

In converting to the new format for SR11, [bogus values in the standard error field were converted to the new source code field] …

 

The few exceptions are:

• Carbohydrate values of zero in animal products were given the source code of 7 which indicates an assumed zero.

• Carbohydrate values which were calculated by difference were given a source code of 4.

• Energy values which were calculated by Atwater factors are given a source code of 4.

• Cholesterol and vitamin B12 values of zero in plant products were given a source code of 7.

• Vitamin C and total dietary fiber values of zero in animal products were given a source code of 7.

 

SOURCE CODE LIST

Code Description

1 The value is analytical or derived from analytical

4 The value is imputed.

5 The value upon which a manufacturer based their label claim for added nutrients (Used primarily for Breakfast Cereals and Infant Formulas)

7 The value is an assumed zero. The nutrient is not expected to be present because biologically it could not be present, such as dietary fiber in animal products, or the nutrient is expected to be present in only insignificant amounts, such as vitamin C in meat products.

8 The value is calculated from the nutrient label by NDL.

9 The value is calculated by the manufacturer, not adjusted or rounded for NLEA compliance.

12 The value is analytical, supplied by the manufacturer with partial documentation.

 

So, apparently hard numbers for carrots. Curious. Did some manufacturer bugger up, or have a secret cysteine agenda ;) ?

Edited by Michael R

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Michael,

 

Sorry, somehow missed the "frozen" on your list of types of carrots with less cys.

 

 

Really? Why not [own a microwave oven]? Gosh: aside from dried pulses, I almost never cook in anything BUT the microwave.

Well, for a long time, dried pulses were nearly the only things I cooked! Plus, I was waiting for my (then) girlfriend and I to make a decision about where we were going to put down roots before buying more appliances (though after your post I checked microwave prices and saw that, even in Sweden, they're lower than I thought they were!).

 

But my steam-boil method is easy (though I could also get a steamer), and I'm guessing doesn't reduce nutrients by too huge an amount over microwaving. But sometimes I want certain things reduced, like goitrogens [1].

 

 

(Here).

 

So, apparently hard numbers for carrots. Curious. Did some manufacturer bugger up, or have a secret cysteine agenda ;) ?

 

Wait, what I'm seeing is that all the numbers are "hard" (though in different ways). This means something is making one carrot form have much more cys than others, which strains credulity.

 

Brian

 

[1] I'm trying to convince myself to stop worrying about goitrogens -- not quite there.... I allow myself ~300-400 g raw, beyond that, I want them, for now at least, well cooked. The fact is, cooked, even boiled for more than a few minutes -- which reduces available vitamin content, on average (diff. for diff. vitamins, of course), by 30 or so percent -- they might be a better non-expensive staple food than carrots or sweet potatoes.

 

P.S.

 

That does seem like a PITA. Try not peeling them: lotsa nutrients in the skin, and not unpleasing to eat, esp. if mashed.

 

Oh, I left out one bit of info critical to the search for a cheap staple food: it's really hard to find organic sweet potatoes in Stockholm. Sweet potatoes generally are not loaded with pesticides, but still, there are likely enough that I want to peel them. If I bought them organic here (when avail.), they'd cost as much as bell peppers, per calorie.

Edited by BrianMDelaney

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Have you COMed your diet? If you take the tomato product/lycopene epidemiology, reconsider tomato products (especially cooked ones) if your intake of the latter is

 

By the way, I don't see lycopene in COM, but I'm using the free version. Is there some other way to "COM" my diet to get lycopene content?

 

(Sorry if that's an obvious question -- I'm still new to COM; was using other programs for a long time.)

 

Brian

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[ The The Source Code Files suggest "hard" numbers for raw carrots]

Wait, what I'm seeing is that all the numbers are "hard" (though in different ways). This means something is making one carrot form have much more cys than others, which strains credulity.

Well, not unless you're saying that you've double-checked all the non-raw carrot entries and they are also codes 1 or 12. Codes 4, 7, 8, and 9 are all squishy.

 

I'm trying to convince myself to stop worrying about goitrogens -- not quite there.... I allow myself ~300-400 g raw, beyond that, I want them, for now at least, well cooked. The fact is, cooked, even boiled for more than a few minutes -- which reduces available vitamin content, on average (diff. for diff. vitamins, of course), by 30 or so percent -- they might be a better non-expensive staple food than carrots or sweet potatoes.

Remember, though, that when it comes to cruciferous vegetables' more specific and "important" nutrients (isothiocyanates and glucosinolates), which are likely responsible for much of the epidemiological association of high cruciferous veg intake and reduced cancer rates, cooking and other kinds of processing have effects on phytochemical bioavailability that (a) are more profound, in terms of sheer quantitative reduction, than for most essential nutrients, and (B) extend beyond simple levels of the nutrient, due to inactivation of myrosinase. Eg (all emphasis mine):

 

Samples of fresh broccoli yielded 50-60% of sulforaphane and 30-50% of sulforaphane-nitrile (molar yields) upon hydrolysis of freeze dried tissue in buffer. When cooked by boiling, sulforaphane molar yields remained largely unaltered for the first 1.5 min and then declined, while sulforaphane nitrile molar yields were <5% for all of the cooked samples. Using a microwave, sulforaphane molar yields increased to 80% at 75 sec and then declined to 30% at 3 min and <6% thereafter, while nitrile yields remained near 50% for up to 45 sec before declining rapidly to <10% after 75 sec. Steamed broccoli retained high molar yields (>60%) up to 2 min before they declined rapidly; nitrile yields remained above 30% up to 75 sec before declining rapidly. These data indicate that the best cooking methods for time-dependent retention of sulforaphane production in broccoli are steaming and microwave cooking. Broccoli boiled for just 2 min generated <15% mole yield of sulforaphane from glucoraphanin.(2)

 

In one study (Rungapamestry et al. 2007) the absorption of sulforaphane following consumption of 150 g lightly-cooked (microwaved for 2 min) or fully-cooked (microwaved for 5.5 min) broccoli, containing glucoraphanin, along with a meat-containing meal or its vegetarian alternative has been investigated in twelve human volunteers. The volunteers received mustard containing 17.3 (SE 0.27) mmol pre-formed AITC/g with each meal ... separated by a wash-out period of ‡ 48 h. Urine was collected for 24 h following each meal …

 

Although glucoraphanin intake was not found to be different between broccoli treatments, hydrolysis of glucoraphanin to sulforaphane and absorption of sulforaphane were found to be three times higher after consumption of lightly-cooked broccoli than after fully-cooked broccoli (P<0.001; Fig. 5). Plant myrosinase activity was found to be four times higher in lightly-cooked broccoli than in fully-cooked broccoli (P<0.001), explaining the higher total output of sulforaphane MA after consumption of lightly-cooked broccoli. The meal matrix was found to influence the excretion of pre-formed AITC from mustard as allyl MA, but not the hydrolysis of glucoraphanin and its excretion as sulforaphane MA from cooked broccoli. Absorption of AITC from mustard was found to be about 1.3-fold higher following consumption of the meat-containing meal than following the vegetarian meal (P<0.001; Fig. 6). However, the fat content of the meat-containing meal was shown to be five times higher than that of the vegetarian meal and may have facilitated the absorption of pre-formed isothiocyanates, which are relatively hydrophobic.(1)

Of course, 400 g of cruciferous veg puts you well, well at the upper extreme quantile of cruciferous veg intake, at least for a Westerner.

 

Oh, I left out one bit of info critical to the search for a cheap staple food: it's really hard to find organic sweet potatoes in Stockholm. Sweet potatoes generally are not loaded with pesticides, but still, there are likely enough that I want to peel them. If I bought them organic here (when avail.), they'd cost as much as bell peppers, per calorie.

First, bell peppers are much more heavily pesticided than sweet potatoes (as root vegetables, they aren't directly sprayed, and farmers don't have to worry as much about visible damage by insect predators): the former are on EWG's Dirty Dozen Plus, and the latter on their "Clean Fifteen." Also, at least as regards your own exposure (as opposed to environmental exposure from runoff), sweet potatoes are very easy to scrub thoroughly.

 

By the way, I don't see lycopene in COM, but I'm using the free version. Is there some other way to "COM" my diet to get lycopene content?

Go under "Profile" and then "Nutritional Targets:" you can then check off boxes for display (or not). Lycopene is one of many nutrients (choline being a more extreme example) not routinely displayed because a lot of foods haven't yet had their levels analyzed. Lycopene is so differentially present in tomatoes and "obvious (red) suspects" that I'm not too worried about "missing" lycopene.

 

References

1: Rungapamestry V, Duncan AJ, Fuller Z, Ratcliffe B. Effect of cooking brassica vegetables on the subsequent hydrolysis and metabolic fate of glucosinolates.

Proc Nutr Soc. 2007 Feb;66(1):69-81. Review. PubMed PMID: 17343774.

 

2: Comparing fresh and processed fruits and vegetables as sources ofbioavailable phytochemicals (N05051)

P Kroon, W Hollands, G Brett, S Saha, B Teucher, P Needs, R Bennett, R

Mithen

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Michael,

 

Thanks for the response. I've been at a conference and want to double-check old notes before replying in detail.

 

Just a quick response now.

 

Well, first, a separate point to others. Folks, the questions you are sending privately are interesting! If you post them here (which can be done anonymously), others can join in and benefit from the answers/discusions.

 

So, back to the post at hand. Thanks for the tip about CRON and displaying more obscure nutrients. There's more to COM than I'd realized.

 

Bell peppers: check -- loaded with pesticides when grown conventionally. And sweet potatoes tend to contain low levels of pesticides, but still. Chlorpropham (an anti-sprouting agent) levels vary widely, and I'm not sure how much of that would be safe to consume. (The EU is currently considering revising allowable levels downward.)

 

Remember, though, that when it comes to cruciferous vegetables' more specific and "important" nutrients (isothiocyanates and glucosinolates), which are likely responsible for much of the epidemiological association of high cruciferous veg intake and reduced cancer rates, cooking and other kinds of processing have effects on phytochemical bioavailability that (a) are more profound, in terms of sheer quantitative reduction, than for most essential nutrients, and (B) extend beyond simple levels of the nutrient, due to inactivation of myrosinase. Eg (all emphasis mine):

 

Right, that's why I was only talking about vitamins. Here's my thinking: Eat some cruciferous veggies raw (up to 200 g seems safe), and have the rest be cooked in such a way that availability of bad and, alas, uniquely good stuff in them is reduced by huge amounts -- 60-90%, but that avail. of vitamins (and carotenoids and some other nutrients) is only reduced by 25-35%, and that, at that level of reduction, the cruciferous vegetables are still more nutritious than sweet potatoes, and are the same price, or cheaper (and I love them!).

 

Of course, a separate question is whether someone without iodine deficiency worrying about thyroid effects of even 500+ grams/day of raw cruciferous vegetables is silly. More on that in a few days.

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Michael,

 

Thanks for the response. I've been at a conference and want to double-check old notes before replying in detail.

 

Just a quick response now.

 

Well, first, a separate point to others. Folks, the questions you are sending privately are interesting! If you post them here (which can be done anonymously), others can join in and benefit from the answers/discusions.

 

So, back to the post at hand. Thanks for the tip about CRON and displaying more obscure nutrients. There's more to COM than I'd realized.

 

Bell peppers: check -- loaded with pesticides when grown conventionally. And sweet potatoes tend to contain low levels of pesticides, but still. Chlorpropham (an anti-sprouting agent) levels vary widely, and I'm not sure how much of that would be safe to consume. (The EU is currently considering revising allowable levels downward.)

 

 

 

Right, that's why I was only talking about vitamins. Here's my thinking: Eat some cruciferous veggies raw (up to 200 g seems safe), and have the rest be cooked in such a way that availability of bad and, alas, uniquely good stuff in them is reduced by huge amounts -- 60-90%, but that avail. of vitamins (and carotenoids and some other nutrients) is only reduced by 25-35%, and that, at that level of reduction, the cruciferous vegetables are still more nutritious than sweet potatoes, and are the same price, or cheaper (and I love them!).

 

Of course, a separate question is whether someone without iodine deficiency worrying about thyroid effects of even 500+ grams/day of raw cruciferous vegetables is silly. More on that in a few days.

 

Hi Brian!

 

Concerning bell peppers: greenhouse grown bell peppers are grown without pesticides, whether organic or not. (Of course, there's some pesticide on organic vegetables: small amount are put on, while transporting them). My info comes from the farmers and wholesalers who sell vegetables in the Rochesgter Public Market.

 

;)

 

-- Saul

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Saul,

 

Thanks for the tip about greenhouse bell peppers. The only non-organic kind we have here in Sweden come from Holland. Not sure whether they're greenhouse-grown or not. I'll try to find out! (Maybe someone reading this knows?)

 

Brian

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Hi Bryan!

 

Almost certainly greenhouse -- probably hydroponic. Bell peppers won't grow in a cold climate (including Upstate NY, where I live) except for the summer. And even in the summer, the greenhouse grown ones are much better than the field grown ones.

 

-- Saul

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Wow, Saul, that's an important fact for my food-buying decisions here in Sweden! Bell peppers are exceptionally nutritious, and I love the taste of them! The price difference between organic and conventional here in Sweden is nearly 300%!! Conventional bell peppers here aren't as cheap (per weight) as sweet potatoes or carrots or cabbage, but close.

 

Thanks,

Brian

Edited by BrianMDelaney

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I said, months ago, more about goitrogens "in a few days".... Well, I still can't reach a solid conclusion about the real risks of goitrogens. I believe the answer is out there, but I still have a list of papers to go through. I may just phone this Gaitan person who seems to be an expert (though there are many).

 

Meanwhile, I discovered an excellent staple food: celeriac! (Also known as celery root.) It's cheap, easy to prepare (can actually be eaten raw), non-goitrogenic, and reasonably nutritious (though not a powerhouse like the cruciferous veggies) -- plus I happen to love the taste (I gather not everyone does, though...).

 

Brian

 

 

 

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Thanks once again to Saul for his pointer about greenhouse-grown bell peppers. I'm in the U.S. now, and have discovered that most of the bell peppers available right now here in the U.S. are from Canada, The Netherlands, or Mexico. If you google the origin from the sticker on the pepper, you'll get lots of info on how the peppers are grown: they're all greenhouse-grown! -- aside from the ones from Mexico. (Not surprising, given the season) Very useful to know. The Env. Working Group really should make a note of this in their "Dirty Dozen" list.

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greenhouse grown bell peppers are grown without pesticides, whether organic or not. (Of course, there's some pesticide on organic vegetables: small amount are put on, while transporting them). My info comes from the farmers and wholesalers who sell vegetables in the Rochesgter Public Market

Thanks once again to Saul for his pointer about greenhouse-grown bell peppers. I'm in the U.S. now, and have discovered that most of the bell peppers available right now here in the U.S. are from Canada, The Netherlands, or Mexico. If you google the origin from the sticker on the pepper, you'll get lots of info on how the peppers are grown: they're all greenhouse-grown! -- aside from the ones from Mexico. (Not surprising, given the season) Very useful to know. The Env. Working Group really should make a note of this in their "Dirty Dozen" list.

I'm not sure where Saul has gotten the impression that pesticides are not used when bell peppers are grown hydroponically, but it isn't true. A quick Google search on [pesticides hydroponic bell peppers] reveals a lot of websites claiming that hydroponic methods reduce the use of pesticides, but none claiming that it necessarily eliminates it (or even that it eliminates "synthetic" pesticides, since even certified organic producers can use things like Botulinum toxin (Bt), copper sulfate, nicotine, etc). Notably, the hydroponic Growing Methods page for the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers (a quasi-governmental body that regulates and supports Ontario's regulated industry) says only that "Greenhouse tomatoes, cucumbers and sweet peppers are grown with great care in computer-controlled environments, ensuring a protected growing environment. Since integrated pest management is used (good bugs eating bad bugs), Ontario's greenhouses minimize the use of pesticides [emphasis mine]." I think it's safe to say that if any producer were actually not using any pesticides on its products, that fact would be prominently labeled.

 

Re: the "Dirty Dozen" reports from the Environmental Working Group (EWG), note that these reports are not hypothetical, modeling-based analyses (under which one might take note of the notion that pesticides are not used when bell peppers are grown hydroponically), but are calculated together based on actual USDA data on pesticide residues on real-world fruits and vegetables purchased in actual grocery stores and subjected to expected consumer behavior, such as discarding the outer leaves of lettuce heads, peeling oranges, and rinsing off or washing the vegetables. Then:

 

We combine six different measures of contamination to come up with composite score for each type of produce:

  • Percent of samples tested that had detectable pesticides
  • Percent of samples that had two or more pesticides
  • Average number of pesticides found on a sample
  • Average amount (in parts per million) of all pesticides found
  • Maximum number of pesticides found on a single sample
  • Total number of pesticides found on the commodity
To make the Dirty Dozen™ list as useful as possible, we present data on the fruits and vegetables that consumers are more likely to purchase.

 

 

Thus, the fact that sweet bell peppers come up on the "Dirty Dozen" year after year tells you that whatever the merits of hydroponics,  the green bell peppers you actually buy in the store are heavily contaminated, despite extensive use of hydroponics to raise them.

 

Consumer Reports did their own analysis of 12 years of such data, using slightly different methodology (notably, the analysis attempts to factor in the relative toxicity of the specific pesticides used, whereas EWG is focused on total amounts). Despite the methodological differences, they come mostly to the same conclusions, sometimes with a bit of extra nuance  — and in particular, bell peppers range from "High" for US produce to "very high" from Mexico (no mention of Canadian produce), and are listed as "Always Buy Organic." The article on pesticide residues  Eat the Peach, Not the Pesticide: A Shopper's Guide is featured in the May 2015 issue, and you can also download the full report, "From Crop to Table."

 

Note that oranges are ranked "low," but again, the USDA peels their oranges before doing the testing: conventionally-grown citrus fruit is heavily pesticided, so if like me you eat the peel along with the orange to get the limonene and extra flavonoids, and if you're concerned about pesticides either for possible effects on your health or your children's, or because of concerns about farm workers (the only human group for whom there is reasonably good evidence of harm under usual conditions) or environmental impact, you should really buy organic.

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Michael,

 

Thanks.

 

You beat me to it. I was doing some research into hydroponically grown bell peppers and discovered that the most one can say is that the producers claim pesticide use is reduced. I'm willing to believe them. One person in the greenhouse industry I know says it would make sense. But zero pesticides? No.

 

 

 

Re: the "Dirty Dozen" reports from the Environmental Working Group (EWG), note that these reports are not hypothetical, modeling-based analyses (under which one might take note of the notion that pesticides are not used when bell peppers are grown hydroponically), but are calculated together based on actual USDA data on pesticide residues on real-world fruits and vegetables purchased in actual grocery stores and subjected to expected consumer behavior [emphasis Brian's].

 

[T]he fact that sweet bell peppers come up on the "Dirty Dozen" year after year tells you that whatever the merits of hydroponics,  the green bell peppers you actually buy in the store are heavily contaminated, despite extensive use of hydroponics to raise them.

 

 

Yes, if that "you" exhibits expected consumer behavior, which would presumably include not intentionally avoiding bell peppers from the U.S. or Mexico (since these are much less likely to be hydroponically grown). I'm willing to bet that if one simply selected conventional bell peppers from Canada or the Netherlands, one would end up with considerably less pesticide exposure than the avg. consumer.

 

Fortunately, the price of organic bell peppers continues to decline relative to the price of conventional.

 

(And yes to eating orange peels and making sure the oranges are organic!!)

 

Edit, after more digging:

 

Go here:

 

http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dDocName=stelprdc5102692

 

Search "bell pepper", page through the numerous hits (there are multiple ones in various tables displaying information about pesticide residue), and it will become clear that conventionally grown bell peppers from the U.S. and Mexico are a nightmare of pesticide residue! That's one of two conclusions that can be drawn from the data. The other is that bell peppers from Canada had no signif. or alarming pest. residue (See Part 2 "Imported Samples" -- search [ Canada ] and it's the third hit. "PP" = bell pepper. So, many samples from Canada were included, but none triggered an alarm -- I think: I'm assuming the table "2011 Distribution of Residues for Sweet Bell Pepper Samples Originating in Mexico vs. United States" was created because few pest's were found in/on the bell peppers from Canada. Will have to read more of the (very long...) report. Have to leave computer now, though.)

 

 

Edited by BrianMDelaney

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I just quarter and roast them.  :)  Spaghetti I scoop, the others I take off the outsides.  I can also eat the seeds, which I lurve.  (I don't remove the shell--talk about WORK!!!)

 

Sweet potatoes--peel and then usually Spiralize.  Takes a couple of minutes but not long.  Pan-saute with a bit of olive oil.

 

I make up a bunch at a time and eat it over several days.

 

Not quite as easy as broccoli and greens, which I usually steam in the microwave right before eating.

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I'd (still!) love to be convinced that the goitrogenic effect of brassicas (cruciferous vegetables) is minimal, even at 1 kg of them/day. I'm getting enough iodine, which helps. If I were convinced there wasn't a significant risk, I'd up my current 400-500 g of them (mostly cooked)/day to 1 kg+. They're not too expensive, easy to prepare, nutritious (even cooked), and I like them.

 

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I'd (still!) love to be convinced that the goitrogenic effect of brassicas (cruciferous vegetables) is minimal, even at 1 kg of them/day. I'm getting enough iodine, which helps. If I were convinced there wasn't a significant risk, I'd up my current 400-500 g of them (mostly cooked)/day to 1 kg+. They're not too expensive, easy to prepare, nutritious (even cooked), and I like them.

Well, it's a "one rat" experiment, but here is a very interesting video by Dr. Rick Dina, a nutritionist and raw food advocate, whose been eating a head of raw cauliflower per day for more than 25 years who apparently has maintained perfect thyroid function, as measured by his blood tests.

 

 

Dean

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Thanks, Dean! So little research speaks to this question that one rat is actually a significant factor in making decisions about cruciferous vegetables. I've continued with around 500 g of mostly cooked cruciferous vegetables per day, along with a bit of supplemental iodine. I think that's probably safe.

 

- Brian

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