Monday, April 26, 2010

The Next Health Food

The eighth annual Spam Jam was held in Waikiki this past weekend (h/t Jeanne Cooper). A tribute to Hormel’s processed preserved protein product , the Spam Jam is one event I’ve never attended—another item to add to my bucket list.

The fondness that current and former Island residents have for Hormel’s mystery meat has puzzled business analysts. No surprise from this quarter: laden with salt and fat, Spam overwhelms the brain’s dietary disciplinary safeguards, especially when combined with nostalgia for one’s Hawaiian childhood. (During the war GI’s introduced Spam throughout Europe and the South Pacific, and although the American army has mostly left, the love for Spam has not.) No surprise also that it hasn’t caught on in health-conscious California and other hoity-toity enclaves. [Bold added below.]
A 56 gram (2 ounce) serving of original Spam provides seven grams of protein, two grams of carbohydrates, 15 grams of fat (23% US Daily Value) including 6 grams of saturated fat (28% US Daily Value), and 170 calories. A serving also contains nearly a third of the recommended daily intake of sodium (salt). A 56 gram serving of Spam contains 767 mg of sodium, equivalent to approximately 2 grams of salt, indicating about 3.6% of Spam's mass is salt. Spam provides very little in terms of vitamins and minerals (0% vitamin A, 1% vitamin C , 1% calcium, 3% iron). It has been listed as a food that is a poor choice for weight loss and optimum health and as a food that "is high in saturated fat and sodium".
Hawaii is the leading State for per-capita Spam consumption.
Island residents consume more than five million pounds, or nearly three million kilograms, of Spam a year, an average of about six cans for every man, woman and child.
But don’t be so quick to sniff.
Residents of Hawaii have a longer life expectancy than any other American state, according to a [2007] study conducted by the Harvard University Initiative for Global Health and the Harvard School of Public Health.
Could Spam have hidden health benefits that science has yet to uncover? Perhaps a steady diet of Spam (washed down with Coca-cola for maximum effect) causes the body to absorb preservatives that will stave off bacterial activity. Who knows, but in a few years we may be adding a slice of pink pleasure to our daily regimen of C and E and other antioxidants. Stranger dietary reversals have happened. © 2010 Stephen Yuen

Spam, eggs, and rice. (Brown rice is healthier.)

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