Fish And Sodium
Combine When You Dine
Do All Foods Contain Fat?
Can We Give Eggs A Break
There's Fat, Then There's Fat
Q: What are some substitutions I can use for eggs and oil in my
cooking to make things lower in fat? Also is margarine better than
A: First off, both margarine and butter are 100 percent fat. The
only difference is that butter contains a higher percentage of
saturated fat, which is a contributing factor in heart disease. Even
so, it's best to avoid or at least restrict your use of both.
There are many substitutions you can make to lower the fat and
cholesterol content of recipes. First and foremost you can
substitute two egg whites for each whole egg called for. Not only do
you get the same consistency and protein, but you also get half the
calories and no fat or cholesterol(compared with six grams of fat
and 270 milligrams of cholesterol per whole egg). Also, you can use
frozen juice concentrate instead of oil; substitute in a ratio of
1-to-1. You can use apple sauce to add moisture to recipes instead
of butter or margarine. Often butter with little change in
consistency. The more you practice in the kitchen, the more
proficient you'll get. Bon App'etit.
Q: While I was preparing for my last competition, a friend told me that
saltwater fish contain more sodium than freshwater fish. If this is
true, why do so many bodybuilders eat tuna?
A: Whether you eat tuna, snapper or sea bass, all of which come from the
ocean, or trout, pike or catfish, which are caught from pure stream
water, you get about the same amount of sodium per serving. Saltwater
fish are generally no higher in sodium. Fish have an internal regulatory
system that prevents their meat from taking up sodium from the water.
Humans also have a regulatory system to maintain sodium levels within a
certain range. Eating more salt will cause your body to excrete more,
and restricting your sodium will result in retention of dietary sodium.
The sodium content of fish can vary, however, depending on the packaging
and processing. If you wish to lower the salt intake, eat fresh fish or
purchase low-sodium canned fish. To produce low-sodium tuna, canneries
add less sodium in the processing; however, the fish contain the same
amount. You should be more concerned about the varying fat contents of
fish. Certain fish, such as salmon and trout, are higher in fat than
chicken breast, so stick to the leaner ones, like snapper, scallop, tuna
and sea bass.
Q: A few years ago I read an article that you wrote regarding how
vegetarians can combine foods to obtain complete proteins. I lost the
article and can't find the information. Could you please publish it
A: Sure. Since proteins from plant foods do not contain all of the
essential amino acids, the aminos that your body cannot manufacture and
that must be obtained in your diet, it's essential that vegetarians
combine foods that make sure they get adequate quality protein for
growth and repair. The following is a list of lowfat plant food
combinations that provide complete proteins. As you can see, they are
often legume-grain mixtures.
Rice and red beans
Rice and green peas
Barley and navy beans
Corn and pinto beans
Bulgar wheat and beans
This process of eating foods that include complementary proteins will
enable a vegetarian to obtain sufficient high-quality protein from
sources that by themselves were lacking in specific amino acids.
Q: Is it true that all the foods we eat contain some fat, even fruits
A: Yes, all foods, whether from plant or animal origin, contain some
fat. What varies is the type and amount. Most foods that come from
animals contain higher percentages of saturated fats, while foods that
come from plants contain more polyunsaturated fats. The American Medical
Association recommends that you limit your saturated-fat intake to less
than 10 percent of your total calories. The lower the percentage the
Since fruits and vegetables generally contain less than .5 grams of fat
per serving, most calorie guides list them as fat free, but even apples
and potatoes contain some fat. For example, an orange has .2 grams of
fat, which is 2 percent of its total calories, and a banana has .6
grams, which is 4 percent of its total calories.
Most fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes are low in saturated and
total fat. They are also cholesterol free; only foods of animal origin
contain cholesterol. The few exceptions to the lowfat fruit and
vegetable list include avocados (one medium avocado averages .30 grams
of fat, or 88 percent of it's calories), olives, coconuts and soybeans.
Q: I recently took a trip to Hawaii and went crazy over macadamia nuts.
Are they nutritious if I eat them by themselves? I already know that the
chocolate-covered ones are probably not good for me.
A: Even without chocolate coating macadamias aren't a good source of
nutrition. With the exception of chestnuts and water chestnuts all seeds
and nuts are very high in fat. The range goes from cashews, which get 76
percent of their calories from fat, to those macadamias, which are 97
percent fat. While many people still believe that nuts and seeds are a
good source of protein-and they do contain minimal amounts of it-you
should eat them sparingly because of their high-fat contents.
Q: I heard that when mushrooms are open, they've gone stale or bad. I
love to eat mushrooms, but how long can they last in the refrigerator?
A: In addition to their distinctive taste, mushrooms are a low-calorie
(nine calorie) per one-half cup-nutritious source of potassium,
phosphorus and niacin. They're great when you eat them either raw or in
The important thing to remember about mushrooms is that they're very
sensitive to moisture and humidity, so always store them in a paper
bag-not plastic-and just for a few days. It's best not to rinse them in
water or soak them, which ruins their texture; so clean mushrooms by
wiping them with a damp paper towel or soft brush.
As mushrooms get older, they lose moisture, open up and turn darker.
This does not necessarily mean that they've spoiled. In fact, at this
stage the flavor intensifies, and they're at their best for use in
cooked recipes. If your mushrooms become rubbery or slimy, however, it's
time to toss them and start with some fresh ones.
CAN WE GIVE EGGS A BREAK?
Q: I read an article in my local paper that had the headline "Medical
Opinion on Eggs Is Starting to Turn Sunny-side Up." What's the story?
Can we give eggs a break, as the television says?
A: The article you read refers to new research presented at a meeting of
the American Medical Association. The researchers found that eating two
eggs a day makes little difference in blood cholesterol levels if you
follow a lowfat diet.
We all know that high blood cholesterol levels are bad for the heart,
and experts have long assumed that since eggs are high in cholesterol,
they're bad for you. Previous studies, however included subjects who
were on both high and lowfat diets. Recent evidence suggests that the
cholesterol in your diet has little impact on the cholesterol in your
bloodstream and that for most people eating an egg raises cholesterol
only slightly, if at all.
Most experts are coming to agree that the real villain is saturated fat
in the diet. In the study referred to in your newspaper article, only
those subjects who had high blood cholesterol and fat levels experienced
significant increases in cholesterol.
The bottom line, then, is to watch the total fat in your diet and
especially your intake of saturated fats and partially hydrogenated
vegetable oils, both of which have a significant effect on your blood
cholesterol levels and, therefore, you risk of disease.
Q: How good and how safe are the new fat substitutes coming out on the
A: I assume that "how good" refers to how good they taste. By all
reports both Olestra and Salatrim taste good and function well as fat
substitutes, much better than the gums and fibers previously used in
fat-free products. At this writing Olestra is in the process of
receiving final approval by the food and Drug Administration and should
be in some products by spring. An added benefit of Olestra is that while
it's indigestible by our bodies, we can use it to cook and fry food.
Imagine eating fried chicken, French fries and doughnuts without the
added fat calories to plague hearts and waistlines. The only side effect
that appeared in the clinical trials were that in limited cases subjects
experienced diarrhea and/or a decreased absorption of some of the
fat-soluble vitamins from the diet.
These drawbacks are minor if you limit the amount of food prepared with
Olestra you eat. There are two other reasons to do this, the first of
which is that we still don't know about the long-term effects of this
substance. That's what scientists are currently debating.
Remember, too, that eating products containing Olestra won't reduce your
waistline or bodyfat level. Foods may be fat-free; but you defeat your
purpose if you compensate for the healthier, lowfat foods by eating more
Researchers at Nabisco are working on another fat substitute, Lalartim,
which contains soy and canola oil as well as acids found in vinegar and
aged cheese. They're replacing the high-calorie hydrogenated soybean oil
with it in most of Nabisco's baked goods, especially reduced-fat
cookies, and also cutting more calories by substituting low-calorie
fiber for some of the flour and sugar.
Although fat-free foods are good for your heart, only exercise and a
balanced diet are good for you waistline and appearance. The new fat
substitutes may be relatively good and safe, but too much of a good
thing will defeat your purpose. As the saying goes, everything in
Q: This really isn't a question, but I thought you might enjoy sharing
the fact that people should read food product labels and try to educate
themselves. I was surprised at the difference this practice make in my
A: Warning: Read the small print. This reader sent the product
information from a package of a nationally recognized brand of frozen
yogurt. Apparently not all of the company's advertised nonfat flavors
are actually nonfat. While Colombo peanut butter yogurt contain 2.6grams
of fat per serving that comes from peanut oil, it is still labeled
nonfat. Only in very small print in the product-information brochure is
the real fat content revealed. Unfortunately, most consumers look only
at the numbers for the nutrients, and they don't read the fine print.
Thank you for passing on the information.
Q: I know that products can be sold after the date listed on the
package, but how long can I keep something at home after that date? If I
do have something that has expired, is it a bad ideal to eat it?
A: When buying food, especially perishables, you should be particularly
careful to check the product date. Unfortunately, there are four type of
dates commonly used. The pack date is the date on which the product was
manufactured. The pull, or see, date indicates the last time the product
should be sold, and it allows some time for storing the food before you
eat it. The expiration date is the last date on which the food can be
safely consumed, and that's the one you should take note of. One other
date is used on baked goods, a freshness date that indicates when the
taste may deteriorate even though the food will still be edible for a
short time. If you have any doubts about the freshness of a food or
whether it's all right to eat, play it safe and err on the conservative
Q: What causes food poisoning, and does keeping food refrigerated
protect against it?
A: Most food poisoning is caused by bacteria and toxins. How you handle,
prepare and store food plays a key role in preventing contamination.
Symptoms of food poisoning resemble those associated with stomach, or
intestinal, flu-diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal bloating and headaches.
The treatment for mild cases calls only for bed rest and extra fluids.
Bacteria grow at room temperatures, so prepared foods should be stored
at this temperature for no more than two hours. Most refrigerators
operate at between 32 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit, a temperature at which
some bacteria continue to grow. This is one reason why foods spoil in
your refrigerator. While many will survive, resuming their multiplying
once you thaw the food. To be safe make sure you cook the food at
temperatures that are higher than 165 degrees. This will destroy most
bacteria and parasites.
One of the mainstays of the bodybuilder's contest diet is canned tuna. A
recent study on cats performed at Cornell University suggests that the
methlymercury in tuna is associated with increased malaise and lethargy.
If the results can be transferred to humans, the amount of tuna and
other foods containing neurotoxic metals should be limited in the diet.
In the study, one group of cats ate off-the-shelf canned, red-meat tuna
cat food. An identical group received beef cat food only. While the cats
performance on maze tests and their responded to human handling were not
affected by the diet, the tuna-fed cats were less active and less
playful than the beef-fed cats.
Methylmercury is naturally present throughout the world's oceans and
accumulates in many oceanic fish. The tuna the cats ate contained 0.55
ppm methylmercury, which was 5.5 times more than the beef contained and
about half the limit allowed in human food by the Food and Drug
Administration. While the study did not prove methlmercury caused the
behavioral differences befound 10-fold higher brain levels of this
neurotoxic metal in the tuna-fed cats.
While the behavioral findings indicate that tuna should not become the
mainstay of your cat's diet, human implications are less clear. Most
foods prepared for human consumption are carefully tested, and a varied
diet is usually followed. Further research will be needed to determine
the link between methylmercury and behavior in cats as well as humans.
In the meantime it might be healthier to limit the consumption of
oceanic fish to no more than on meal per day.
Q: My wife and I would appreciate your giving us some tips on nonfat and
A: Fat-free eating and cooking are becoming increasingly popular. Some
of the most obvious suggestion include the following:
Limit your use of visible fats- those added to already prepared those
added to already prepared foods- in cooking or as dressings, toppings or
spreads. This includes oil, butter, mayonnaise and margarine.
. Never fry you food.
Broil or bake you foods dry, without added fat. Use lemon juice,
balsamic vinegar or wine to baste the meat and keep in moist.
.Use nonfat plain yogurt or nonfat sour cream instead of real sour
.Replace cream cheese with nonfat cream cheese.
.Substitute skim milk for whole milk.
When you're baking and you want to remove the invisible fat, try some of
.Substitute two eggs whites for each whole egg called for.
.When oil or butter is called for, substitute a similar volume of frozen
juice concentrate, applesauce or corn syrup for moisture.
.Use cocoa instead of baker's chocolate.
.Spray your pan or cooking sheet with nonstick spray rather than spread
butter or oil over the surface.
By reading ingredient labels, limiting the addition of fats and choosing
from the wide variety of nonfat products in the marketplace, you can
drastically reduce the fat in your diet and help to improve your health,
appearance and athletic performance.
Q: I love peanut butter. Is the fat in it really as bad as the fat
that's in, say, beef?
A: In terms of calorie content fat is fat. For every gram of fat you
eat, you give your body nine calories. The body responds differently to
different types of fat, however.
To begin with, dietary fat is either saturated or unsaturated, which is
often referred to as "polyunsaturated." Saturated fats are considered to
be more harmful for two reasons:
1. Eating a lot of saturated fats can cause your blood cholesterol level
to rise and increase your risk of heart disease;
2. Saturated fats are more readily stored in the body as fat than
With the exception of the tropical oils-including the coconut, palm and
palm kernel varieties-found in processed foods and dressings, which are
very high in saturated fat, foods from animal origins contain higher
percentages of saturated fat than those from plant origins. Therefore,
the fat in peanut butter is not as harmful as the fat in beef.
On the other hand, peanuts do contain a lot of fat. With 76 percent of
their calories coming from fat, nuts are higher in fat than most lean
cuts of beef, and they're a much better source of fat than a source
Q: Is there any difference between pink and white grapefruits?
A: While most people choose pink grapefruit over white because they
think it will be sweeter, there is very little difference in actual
taste. The grapefruit is pink because of beta carotene, a plant pigment
that's abundant in dark green and deep yellow vegetables like carrots
and squash. According to the USDA dietary guidelines and the National
Cancer Institute, we need about five to six milligrams of beta carotene
a day. Pink grapefruit only contains 0.2 milligrams, while white
grapefruit contains trace amounts. While beta carotene-rich foods may be
linked to reduced rates of cancer, the amount found in pink grapefruit
will be of little benefit, so choose either pink or white depending on
availability, freshness and preference rather than for any apparent