So what does the USDA do?
The Secretary of Agriculture proposed classifying ketchup as a vegetable to save money on school lunch programs! That was in 1981!
Hmmm… ketchup a vegetable…
So what IS a vegetable? If it’s a plant grown for its edible part, maybe the question should be, “does the edible part stop becoming edible?”
Or should we say it this way?
Does a vegetable ever stop becoming a vegetable? Or does a vegetable merely stop becoming a source of nutrition when it becomes processed and mixed with other ingredients, which diminish its nutritional value?
All things labeled as “food” need to be evaluated from two points:
Does it harm me? Or does it benefit me?
Does it diminish health for me? Or does it add health to me?
If it harms me, then it needs to be removed from my “repertoire.”
If it benefits me, then it needs to be eaten with some degree of consistency.
So what about ketchup? Is ketchup harmful? Or is it beneficial?
The answer of course, is “It depends on what got mixed with it, when it was processed.”
For the above brand, for example, one would then have to go through the nuances of studying the volume added as well as the short term and long term effects of each ingredient, meaning, the volume and the effects of:
1] distilled vinegar
2] high fructose corn syrup
3] corn syrup
6] onion powder
7] natural flavoring
For example, should one pay attention to the medical and scientific literature that considers high fructose corn syrup, as allegedly contributing to obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease?
And what about salt? Just how much salt was added?
How was the onion pulverized?
Which natural flavoring are we talking about?
And how was that flavoring made?
So the answers aren’t easy to come by. It becomes hard to tell exactly what process the tomato concentrate went through to transform into the ketchup that it ended up becoming. And on top of it all, some additives have not had the benefit of having been tested with time.
No wonder some people espouse the adage:
“Made by God, good; made by man, bad” or
“If it wasn’t around 100 years ago, then you don’t know if it’s good or bad.”
So when we say vegetable, we simply mean “normal” vegetable!
What exactly do vegetables have anyway?
Fifty years ago, it was the vitamins and minerals.
Today it’s the phytochemicals and the enzymes.
Take LUTEIN for example (pronounced LOO-TEEN). It’s a phytochemical found all over the world but synthesized only in leaves—the green leaves!
In the West, it’s in broccoli and spinach and kale.
In the East, it’s found in pak choi, bok choy and kai-lan in China, Baguio pechay and kangkong in the Philippines, baechu in Korea, wongbok and hakusai in Japan.
So it’s really synthesized in plants. But animals eat it from plants and when they do, they pass it on to humans who eat animals, so a person may get LUTEIN second hand from egg yolk and chicken skin and chicken fat.
Or we may get it first hand in significant amounts from green leaves, cooked and uncooked. Then where does it go after we eat it? Surprise! LUTEIN has been found to concentrate itself in the macula in the retina of the eye!
Does that mean it prevents blindness?
Well, the evidence sounds promising...
In 2007, John Paul SanGiovanni of the National Eye Institute in Maryland published his 6 year study in the Archives of Ophthalmology 2007;125(9):1225–1232.
His studies pointed to a relationship between intake of LUTEIN and the human eye becoming protected from blindness coming from macular degeneration!
What’s macular degeneration?
Well, there’s something in the eye called the macula.
The macula begins to show signs of change when you hit 65. First your vision becomes a bit blurred. But it’s limited to the center of the field of vision, not the periphery. Objects look dim and somewhat distorted and the colors look faded.
A year later, you may have trouble reading print but you can see well enough to do most of your routine activities.
As time progresses, so does the difficulty reading. You notice that you need more light to read and the blurred spot in the center of your vision gradually gets larger and darker. In the later stages, you may not be able to recognize faces until people are up close.
What you see sort of begins to look like this:
What causes it?
Well, abnormal blood vessels begin to grow behind the retina or light-sensitive cells within the retina itself begin saying, “I give up!” And the changes in vision really become obvious when people reach 75 which is why they call it age-related macular degeneration (AMD for short).
But John Paul Sangiovanni says you can delay it or prevent it partly by eating the right green leaves!
And the same goes for cataracts, too!
When he increased the LUTEIN intake of patients, it lowered the risk of cataract progressing! Letting them consume more than 2.4 mg of LUTEIN/ZEAXANTHIN (another phytochemical from leaves colored green) daily from foods and supplements allowed him to observe a correlation—it lowered the incidence of the eye lens becoming opaque!)
Question: “Ok! So I start eating spinach and pechay and bok choy! Can I get too much of a good thing?”
Well, in 2009, in China, there was an elderly woman who had made it a habit to eat around 1 to 1.5 kg of raw pak choi per day! She came down with hypothyroidism, and came into the hospital in a coma – myxedema coma.
Myxedema coma is loss of brain function because of severe and longstanding low level of thyroid hormone in the blood.
If she had been keen, she would have picked up the early signs: fatigue, lethargy, depression, cold intolerance, dry skin. But apparently she missed them!
So, yes –spinach, and bok choy and petchay and broccoli – but not too much, okay? One kilo IS a bit weighty, don’t you think?
So wow! We started off with ketchup — how did we get here?
Let’s go back to ketchup. Is ketchup a vegetable?
Did the USDA learn?
Well, you decide...
In 2011, the US Congress passed another bill. This time the bill barred the USDA from changing its nutritional guidelines for school lunches. Why? Well, because this time, the changes proposed by the USDA would have resulted in:
1] limiting the amount of potatoes allowed in lunches
2] requiring more green vegetables, and
3] declaring that half a cup of tomato paste could now count as one serving of vegetables
This meant that the tomato paste in pizza could continue to be counted as a vegetable in school lunches! Of course, the bloggers were furious! And what did they say?
Well, some said that Congress had now declared pizza to be a vegetable!
Well, at least now we know. Ketchup is NOT a vegetable. But pizza definitely IS!
For the next blog, let’s tackle LYCOPENE!
In the meantime, chew on this…
One quarter of what you eat keeps you alive.
The other three quarters keep your doctor alive.
- Egyptian Proverb
The other three quarters keep your doctor alive.
- Egyptian Proverb