I’ve always been annoyed by the way food nutritional content is reported. It isn’t hard to find a food item with 1,000 calories per serving that claims to be be “high” in iron because it has 5% of the US RDA. The ratio of the RDA of iron to calories would be 1:10. You couldn’t eat enough to get the full allowance of iron in a day and you’d become a human blimp trying.
In an age of obscene abundance, the trick is not so much getting the minimum nutritional value, but getting it at the minimum caloric cost. I looked through some reviews of “good” protein bars and popular ones on Amazon and tabulated the nutritional data in Excel and then computed the ratio of grams of protein to three bad things: kilo-calories, grams of saturated fat, and dollars of cost. Thus, higher values are better. It is interesting to see a huge range in all three values. Sadly, it is common to get closer to the maximum recommended value of saturated fat per day than calories, meaning that eating only enough calories of these “healthy” bars will result in increased risk of disease compared to normal, “unhealthy” food. That’s pretty inexcusable.
I’d like to change the way nutritional labels are printed from hard to read tables presenting only favorable values to simple bar graphs of all basic, essential nutrients, all of which would always be included so that empty calories foods would have a big red block of bar graphs pointing to the left indicating a food that had better be a pleasure to eat to compensate for the lack of nutrition.
But back to food bars: the ratio of protein to calories is a good way to select a food bar for healthy people. Finding one with the best ratio of protein to saturated fat can be important for some people and avoiding the worst ratios is good for everyone. Finding the most protein for your dollar may have merit as well (though prices are just Amazon prices and may vary significantly by outlet).
There’s an article in PLoS one (cited from /.) by some MIT Lincoln Lab researchers (Go Beavers!) published under the title “Broad-Spectrum Antiviral Therapeutics.” Typically the media reports of such articles vastly overstate the claims in the paper to make exciting headlines, but in this case the reports seem fair to modest.
If the approach they are describing, Double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) Activated Caspase Oligomerizer (DRACO), works as well as in vitro tests and mouse tests indicate so far, viral infections could be as easy to manage as bacterial infections have been since antibiotics. Basically DRACO is a compound that can be introduced into a mouse (and very likely a person) infected with a virus or prophylactically in advance of risk of viral infection. Any infected cells will die within 24 hours. DRACO remains active for about 8 days and has prophylactic value when administered up to 6 days in advance of infection.
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