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Bad Yolks
Fish And Sodium
Combine When You Dine
Do All Foods Contain Fat?
Macadamia Nuts
Can We Give Eggs A Break
Fat Substitutes?
Food Labels
Expiration Date
Food Poisoning
Tuna Toxicity
Lowfat Cooking
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 butter?

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 again?

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 and vegetables?

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 better.

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 cooked foods.

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.





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 market?

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 moderation.





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 own diet.

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 side.




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 lowfat cooking.

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 cream.

.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 these suggestions:

.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 unsaturated fats.

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 protein.





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 health benefit.