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Nina In New York: Nutritional Wins Of The Week

Cheeseburger

A lighthearted look at news, events, culture and everyday life in New York. The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.
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By Nina Pajak

As we near my daughter’s first birthday, I find myself in disbelief. I can’t believe how quickly the best–and most difficult—year of my life has flown by. I can’t believe my little mewling newborn is a babbling, toddling girl. I can’t believe I only lost half my baby weight.

I can’t believe I ate the whole thing.

I’m reflecting on parenthood and love and the fleeting nature of life, and I’m also crash dieting. And by crash dieting, I mean this: I am eating healthfully 85% 75% 65%? FINE 50% of the time, and the rest of the time I am eagerly collecting loopholes and excuses so that I can freely continue to do things like eat chocolate and cheese and drink cocktails.

Oh, heyyyy, this week’s news. What luck!

Researchers at Louisiana State University think they’ve proven the oft-stated, extremely convenient theory that dark chocolate is good for your heart. It turns out that it has anti-inflammatory effects on the microbial . . . microbe . . . fermentation and plus the . . . flavanols BLAH BLAH BLAH WHATEVER. The point is, it’s true. Dark chocolate is good for you! Okay sure, the fat and sugar found in candy is perhaps less good, but it’s a means to an end, right? It’s cruel to be kind. You’ve gotta spend money to make money. Just eat it and be quiet and don’t ruin this for the rest of us.

Actually, the scientists suggest eating cocoa powder, which would deliver the health benefits without all the extra calories. And they’re even looking ahead to further isolating the beneficial elements so that they can be packaged up into pill form, which would be amazing despite its seeming potential for sucking the joy directly out of life. Until that time, I’ll just keep healthy by replacing exercising with consuming dark chocolate and sprinkling cocoa powder all over everything I eat. It’ll be like in that movie Chocolat, except instead of living in a magical world in which I woo Johnny Depp by dipping chicken thighs into chocolate sauce and dancing around by the water’s edge, I’ll be in Queens and my kitchen will be a terrible mess and the lighting is just awful and probably I’ll gain a fair amount of weight. But worth it.

Next, a new scientific study has concluded that we don’t have hard evidence that cutting down on saturated fats—delicious, delightful saturated fats—prevents heart disease. Nor do we know for certain that eating “good” fats (like the Omega-3s found in fish, fmeh) is good for us. Seriously! No joke. I read like a whole half of an article about it and I am here to tell you that you can go ahead and break out the butter! Buy yourself a briefcase full o’ burgers and head to your job in Beeftown. Turn up the volume on those disco fries.

Oh, wait. I just accidentally read the whole thing.

The American Heart Association warned in a statement: “The paper does not invalidate the existing policies and recommendations that aim for offering sound dietary advice to healthy people.”

Experts are cautioning that this does not give certain unreasonable, rash people “carte blanche” to start bingeing on all sorts of junk. We still have to eat vegetables and fish. But at least now when I have my daily pound of cheese, I don’t need to beat myself up quite so much.

And finally, a type of sugar found in tequila, produced by the agave plant, has been linked to lowering blood glucose levels. It also seems to keep people mice fuller longer, all meaning it can possibly be helpful for people who struggle with obesity and diabetes. Unfortunately, it doesn’t actually taste particularly sweet, so it probably won’t go gangbusters as a sugar substitute. But it could sweep the nation if people simply substituted not drinking tequila with drinking tequila. Bam. Obesity epidemic: solved. Alcohol abuse epidemic: created. But every good effort has a little collateral damage.

Go forth and be healthy, friends.

Nina Pajak is a writer living with her husband, daughter and dog in Queens. Connect with Nina on Twitter!