A Dietary Scientist Praises Your Favourite Meals and Makes You Comfortable

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Gerda Endemann, our Senior Director of Science and Research, has a BS in Nutrition from UC Berkeley, a PhD in Nutritional Biochemistry from MIT and many hours in the laboratory. The classes Endemann taught at Stanford focused on her favorite subjects: how to interpret research and the myths and misconceptions surrounding fat nutrition.

One of the things that I like most as a nutritionist is the ability to streamline the eating of almost anything I want to eat. I mean, most foods have some valuable nutrients, right? (My Cheerios are gluten-free, whole-grain, GMO-free, and bee-friendly, with an iron content that warms my heart.) Fortunately, I like vegetables a lot. And I feel obliged to give good advice, so here it is. Do what I say, not what I do.

HOT DOGS AND HAMBURGERS

I found a friend forever by saying some nice words about hot dogs. Every time I see this person, he thanks me profusely. Why should I approve of meat at all? Because meat is a concentrated source of protein, iron and B vitamins. Four ounces – occasionally – is enough. Moderation is important to your health and to the planet.

My favorite brand of hot dogs is Fork in the Road because they taste amazing and are made from unhardened beef from family farms. Check the labels for “never given antibiotics,” “vegetarian fed,” and “certified under the Global Animal Partnership Program” to make sure the brand is committed to animal welfare practices. The same goes for hamburgers: when buying ground beef, consider that grass-fed meat will contain more omega-3 fat and less blood cholesterol-increasing saturated fat.

What to look for on a label

• •Read the Ingredient List: Are the Ingredients Real Foods You Recognize?

• •If this is an animal product, have the animals been treated humanely?

• •Were the animals given a vegetarian diet?

• •How much sugar is there? Four grams is one teaspoon of sugar.

• •Are the fats mainly healthy, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats? Or are they saturated fats? (Cocoa butter is saturated, but not a major health issue.)

OLD CHEESE

I am also very popular when I talk about cheese. Older cheeses, like cheddar, gouda, camembert and roquefort to be precise. Because they’re low in lactose and won’t cause problems for most people with lactose intolerance, aged cheeses are a great way to get the protein, calcium, and vitamin B12 that many vegetarians can’t get enough of. As we age, microbes digest lactose and also produce vitamin K, which is at the forefront of research into bone and arterial health these days. Milk fat isn’t the healthiest, but – just to say – there is much more vitamin K in full-fat cheeses than in low-fat cheeses.

POTATOES ARE VEGETABLES

That brings us to potatoes. No sweet potatoes, just normal old inexpensive, super versatile and unjustifiably criticized potatoes. (The only caveat is that you should avoid green potatoes or potato sprouts, which contain the toxic compound solanine.) Potatoes contain fiber, potassium, vitamin C, and even some iron. Buy organic when you can for the farm workers and the birds and bees.

I toss warm boiled potatoes with olive oil, wine vinegar, salt, and chopped fresh dill. Or boil them in well-salted water and then brown them in hot EVOO. Frying potatoes in oil is one of life’s great joys, but you don’t want the oxidized fats that result. Recent research shows that: Fry in EVOO as its antioxidants help prevent fatty acids from oxidizing. And don’t reuse oil so often that it smells rancid.

One of the best combinations, of course, is potato and cheese, like with baked stuffed potatoes.

EGGS

I have probably repeated myself about eggs as often as I did about vitamin D. The nutritionists I know never supported the egg embargo. Yes, eggs contain cholesterol. But for most people, consuming cholesterol disrupts the body’s cholesterol production, so this is not a problem. Eggs are a wonderful, inexpensive source of protein and vitamins. This includes vitamin B12, which vegetarians only get from eggs and dairy products. And choline, which is important for liver health and brain development and is not found in many foods. B12, choline, lutein, zeaxanthin and vitamins A and D are contained in the egg yolk, not in the white. Therefore whole eggs are nutritionally preferable to protein.

A latke pancake with potatoes, eggs, and olive oil sounds pretty healthy to me – and delicious.

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Tried-and-True Staples That Final Ceaselessly

SUGAR

I respect people who don’t eat sweets, but there are many of us who have neither the inclination nor the discipline to stay away from sugar. I try to make my desserts and snacks as nutritious as possible, apart from the sugar content. For example: a mixture of semi-sweet chocolate chips, walnuts, cashews and dried cranberries. My big project for this winter is the gradual transition from semi-sweet to bittersweet. (Full disclosure: we just had a bowl of non-dairy ice cream from Ben & Jerry’s Coffee Caramel Fudge.)

My mother made us bars called Rye Happies with whole rye flour, walnuts, eggs, oats and brown sugar. I also made a lot of batches for my kids. Yes, they are cute, but they beat ice cream or brownies for nutrient density. And they work well with gluten-free flour too.

Sweeteners for baking

• •Dates are a whole food, so they’re among the best, with iron, potassium, small amounts of some vitamins, and even a decent amount of fiber.

• •Honey is high in iron and potassium, as well as many other beneficial ingredients such as polyphenols.

• •Maple syrup contains some calcium, potassium and vitamin B2.

• •Brown sugar contains some calcium and iron.

• •Agave syrup contains tiny parts of some vitamins.

• •White sugar has no vitamins.

MAYONNAISE

Too simple. Mayo is made from a little egg and healthy vegetable oils that help lower blood cholesterol. The fat provides slow release energy.

CARBON BEVERAGES

If you can find a carbonated drink you like, wonderful – ideally it doesn’t have too much sugar or artificial sweeteners. I really like the Green Tea and Grapefruit Flavored SkinTē, which packs collagen, nettle, hawthorn berries and passion flower into a refreshing drink. And it’s not overly fizzy. One theory (and my experience) is that too much carbonation and the resulting burps can open the esophageal sphincter and let acid out of the stomach.

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COFFEE AND COFFEE

Coffee in moderation – three to four cups, not large cups – has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s. If you don’t overdo it and the caffeine is making you anxious or your heart racing, you don’t have to worry about your habit. Do not expect a significant difference in the caffeine content of light to dark roasted beans. However, it can be helpful to know that arabica coffee naturally contains less caffeine than Robusta – about 100 milligrams per six ounces versus about 200 milligrams. The new goop coffee is 100 percent Arabica and is grown by Astrid Medina, an award-winning coffee farmer in Colombia.

For the perfect piece of caffeine that is balanced by L-theanine, I personally rely on Nerd Alert. It contains the ideal ratio of these two nootropics – which promote focus and memory – in a café-au-lait-flavored chew.

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This article is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, nor should it be used as a substitute for specific medical advice. To the extent that this article contains advice from any doctor or health care professional, the views expressed are the views of the expert quoted and do not necessarily reflect the views of goop.

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