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It's easy to get answers about health and nutrition! Just send your question by email to askdrgourmet@drgourmet.com and Dr. Harlan will respond to selected questions of general interest. Answers will be posted in the Ask Dr. Gourmet newsletter (sign up now!) and archived in the Ask Dr. Gourmet section of the website.

Please note that the Ask Dr. Gourmet feature is restricted to questions regarding food and nutrition. Due to the many questions we receive, not all questions may be answered. For more specific questions about your individual health, please contact your doctor. About Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy


The Dr. Gourmet Diet Plan

Timothy S. Harlan, M.D. tells you what to eat and when in order to eat healthier, lose weight, and keep it off - permanently!

With The Dr. Gourmet Diet Plan, you'll create a two-week custom meal plan including breakfast, lunch and dinner, for yourself or your entire family - even kids under 14! NO making separate meals. Online planner includes:

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2. Frozen meal options for lunch or dinner such as Lean Cuisine or Weight Watchers.

3. Easy, delicious recipes, with leftovers for lunches or later in the week.

4. Options for allergies and special diets, including:

  • Vegetarian (lacto-ovo)
  • Low sodium
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Coumadin (warfarin) use
  • GERD / Acid Reflux
  • Gluten allergies (Celiac disease).
  • Diabetes: All meal plans are safe for type 2 diabetics because they are based on the Mediterranean Diet, which is known to be the best diet for type 2 diabetics.

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Ask Dr. Gourmet



Questions About Foods

Salt

three different types of salts in three wooden spoons

Are foods saltier now than they used to be?
Does salting eggplant add sodium to recipes?
Are there salt substitutes that are safe for those with diabetes and high blood pressure?
an sea salt or kosher salt be used in canning in place of regular salt?
If I wash canned canned beans and vegetables am I washing off some of the salt?
Can we get our recommended daily supply of sodium from the vegetables we eat?
Are salt substitutes a good alternative for those on a low-sodium diet?
Is sushi a low salt food?
For those on Coumadin, shouldn't salt substitutes be avoided because of the high levels of potassium?
Doesn't sea salt have a higher concentration of potassium chloride than regular salt?
Does sea salt have less sodium in it than regular salt?
Which types of salts have the least sodium?

Oils

a clear glass bottle of olive oil

Is peanut oil good for you?
Will rice bran oil really reduce cholesterol, and is it good for you?
What oils should I use in the "Heart Attack Proof" Diet recipes?
Does olive oil lose its health benefits when it is heated?
What Can I Substitute for Sesame Oil and Peanuts in Asian Foods?
Is it better to use butter or a spread?
Which are better for you: polyunsaturated or monounsaturated oils?
Can I substitute sesame oil for sesame seeds?
Is this email about butter vs. margarine true or is it an urban myth?
What type of cooking should olive oil be used for?
If I eat flax seeds will I get the same benefits as flax seed oil?
What can I substitute for peanut or sesame oil in Asian recipes?
What are the smoke points of various oils?
Is palm oil safe to eat?
Which cooking oil should I use?
What oil should I use for fondue?
Is olive oil appropriate for high-temperature uses?

Cheese

a variety of dairy products, including yogurt, milk, and cheeses

Is quark cheese better for my cholesterol than mozzarella?
What is the cholesterol content of goat cheese?
I'm lactose intolerant, but I can eat goat cheese. Why?
What can I use in place of Gorgonzola cheese? (See also...)
Is Parmigiano-Reggiano suitable for vegetarians?
Why does swiss cheese have holes in it?
Is there a substitute for goat cheese?

Vinegar

a carafe of balsamic vinegar and a carafe of olive oil, flanked by garlic, fresh green olives, and red peppers

Is balsamic vinegar gluten-free?
What is the Alcohol Content of Vinegar? What Should I Use Instead of Vinegar?
How long should I keep White Wine Vinegar?
Can I reuse the juice from pickled onions to pickle something else?
What is the percentage of alcohol in Balsamic Wine Vinegar?
Does balsamic vinegar contain lead?
Is there a rating system for balsamic vinegar?
How long can I keep balsamic vinegar?
Is this thickened balsamic vinegar safe to eat?

Alcohol

beer being poured into a beer stein

What is the Alcohol Content of Vinegar? What Should I Use Instead of Vinegar?
What is the percentage of alcohol in Balsamic Wine Vinegar?
Does having a glass of wine every night affect weight loss?
Is drinking grape juice as good for you as red wine?
Is all of the alcohol cooked out of your chicken piccata sauce?

Beverages

a clear glass of iced soda water

Does fruit lose its fiber when I process it in a blender to make a fruit smoothie?
Is seltzer water bad for you?
If I don't drink my freshly-blended juices right away will the nutrients be lost?
Would a hot chocolate mix offer the same benefits as hot cocoa?
My Starbucks addiction is hampering my weight loss. What can I do?
What is the ORAC value of a cup of coffee?
Are there as many antioxidants in decaffeinated coffee as there are in caffeinated coffee?
What do you think of Lipton's diet green or white flavored teas?
Is Red Bull safe?
Is there cornstarch in 1% milk?
Are calorie-free water flavorings okay to drink in my water?
Does V-8 count as a serving of vegetables?
How much CO2 is in Pepsi, 7-Up and Mountain Dew?

Fish

filet of salmon

Is microwaving a good way to cook fish and shellfish?
Is tilapia (the fish) good for diabetics?
What can I substitute for fish and shellfish, if I am allergic to them?
Can you eat too much fish?
Do the Benefits of Eating Fish and Shellfish Outweigh the Risks of Mercury and Gulf Oil Contamination?
Is it ok to eat tuna and salmon sashimi when you have hypertension, gout and arthritis?
Will eating spicy tuna rolls (sushi) help lower cholesterol?
What are the benefits/non-benefits of the tilapia fish?
What is the difference between pink canned salmon and red canned salmon?

Fruits / Vegetables

bunches of fresh celery in baskets at a farmers' market

Is corn a starch or a vegetable?
Is the green layer under the skin of my yellow potatoes harmful?
Will eating fruit on an empty stomach make my hair turn grey or make me bloated?
Are there vegetables or fruits that have no calories?
Is it true that the polyphenols in blueberries block fat storage and that dairy interferes with polyphenols?
Does fruit lose its fiber when I process it in a blender to make a fruit smoothie?
Which is better, kale or spinach?
Do nightshade plants, like eggplants, tomatoes, and peppers, cause inflammation?
Will Honeybells (tangelos) interact with medications like grapefruit does?
If I don't drink my freshly-blended juices right away will the nutrients be lost?
Why does eating spinach make my tongue and teeth feel funny?
Can I eat fruit on an empty stomach?
Does washing remove the pesticides from foods?
Does my peach pit jelly contain cyanide?
Can I eat all the fruits and vegetables I want and still lose weight?
Are there rules for when and how you should eat fruit or drink water?
Are canned cranberries, like the kind used on turkey, bad for you, fat wise?
Is it true that I should avoid eating fruit for thirty minutes before or after a meal?
Should fruit only be eaten on an empty stomach?
Is it okay to put peas and corn on my salad?
What can I do with really large zucchini?
Does grapefruit really interact with medications?
Where can I find edamame?
Can I freeze celery?

Mushrooms

button mushrooms

Are these two week old mushrooms safe to eat?
How can I tell that these mushrooms are safe to eat?
How can I know these mushrooms are safe to eat?

Nuts

fresh walnuts from the tree and walnuts in the shell

Does eating nuts cause a high LDL cholesterol score?
What Can I Substitute for Sesame Oil and Peanuts in Asian Foods?
What can I use to substitute for pine nuts?
Are nuts a good source of vitamins?
Are dry roasted peanuts actually fried?
Is there a nutritional difference between dry roasted and toasted nuts?
What is the difference between dry roasted and oven roasted nuts?

Shellfish (Shrimp / Scallops)

shrimp scampi

What can I substitute for fish and shellfish, if I am allergic to them?
Are shellfish included in 'eating more fish'?
I've heard that you should avoid shrimp because they are "bottom feeders." Is that true?
Where can I find "chemical free" scallops?
Do kidney beans contain Omega 3 fatty acids?

Splenda / Artificial Sweeteners / Sugar /
High Fructose Corn Syrup

sugar cubes

Does our body process agave differently than sugar?
Does Splenda contain aspartame?
Are artificial sweeteners as bad for you as they say?
I'm pre-diabetic. Should I switch from Splenda to Truvia?
Is High Fructose Corn Syrup dangerous to your health?
What can I use in place of Splenda or other chemical sugar replacements?
Is agave nectar better for diabetics than sugar?
How does cane sugar with 0 calories and 4g of sugar fit into the sugar list?
Can you substitute brown sugar for refined sugar?
Is brown sugar better for you than white sugar?
Is xylitol safe?
Should I avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup?
What is your opinion of stevia and the Truvia brand blended stevia?
What are the ingredients in Splenda, and is it healthy?
If I substitute sugar for Splenda, how should I adjust the portion size?
Can Splenda be used in canning in place of sugar?
Which type of Splenda do you use in your recipes?
What can I substitute for Splenda in a recipe?
Does your body process honey differently than sugar?
How concerned should we be about processed sugars in our food?

Supplements

capsules spilling from a prescription bottle

Can I take cherry fruit extract while on Coumadin (warfarin)?
Will green tea capsules help me improve my blood sugar levels?
Should I purchase this chocolate anti-inflammatory product, Xocai?
Does Acai berry contain tyramine?
What do you think of Mangosteen products like Xango?
Will acai berry interact with Tegretol?

What is...

What is PGX, PolyGlycopleX, or Miracle Noodles?
What is 'modified food starch'?
What is root parsley?
Are Saifun noodles (cellophane noodles) a carb or a vegetable?
What is tapioca?
What is "food starch"?
What is Swiss Chard?
What is "Hot Sauce"?
What's the difference between Sorbet, Sherbet, and Ice Cream?
What is "orzo"?
What does "Nicoise" mean?
For the Chicken Pot Pie recipe, is "chicken stock" really chicken broth or water that chicken is cooked in?
What is a baron of beef?

Miscellaneous

Is the nutrition information on this oatmeal packet correct?
Is turkey better for you than pork?
Why would this sticker be on my Kraft mac and cheese?
Are Alessi brand packaged side dishes good for you?
Why would unpopped popcorn have more calories than popped popcorn?
Should I be concerned about the amount of arsenic in brown rice?
Will heat destroy the good bacteria in yogurt?
Will all the cornsilk come off together if you remove the end of the corn after grilling?
Does eating spicy foods have benefits, like weight loss?
Is Macaroni & Cheese healthy?
Is it safe to eat fertilized eggs?
Many foods in your recipes are not available near me. Suggestions?
Does microwaving reduce nutrients in food?
Are Smart Taste pastas as good for you as whole wheat pasta?
Doesn't liver contain toxins, making it bad for you?
If I saute ground beef and pour off the fat, how much fat am I removing?
Is my boyfriend eating too much processed meats?
How much dark chocolate should a person eat in one day?
Since I have a-fib, should I avoid chocolate since it contains caffeine?
What can I use in recipes in place of coconut milk, which is so high in saturated fat?
What is the recommended amount of oatmeal we should eat per day?
Which is better for you - rolled oats or steel cut oats?
Are Morning Star vegetarian products good for you?
Are Smart Balance Products Really a Healthy Choice?
Is Parboiled Rice as Good For You as Brown Rice?
What is the Alcohol Content of Vinegar? What Should I Use Instead of Vinegar?
Do grits have any nutritional value?
Is bison (buffalo) better for you than other red meats?
Where can I find a healthy jam recipe?
Does MSG (monosodium glutamate) cause weight gain?
Why does corn have calories and popcorn does not?
Is this email about butter vs. margarine true or is it an urban myth?
Can I reuse the juice from pickled onions to pickle something else?
Do kidney beans contain Omega 3 fatty acids?
Which potato should I use for what type of recipe?
Why haven't you mentioned Quinoa?
Can sea salt or kosher salt be used in canning in place of regular salt?
How long should I keep chipotles in adobo?
Does cooking vegetables cause them to lose their nutrients?
Do nuts help prevent metabolic syndrome?
Are meats such as goat, venison or buffalo good substitutes for beef?
Is ground turkey better for you than ground beef?
Is our food less nutritious today than it was years ago?
Are Saifun noodles (cellophane noodles) a carb or a vegetable?
What do you consider to be the best meal replacement bar?
Am I eating too much oatmeal?
Why is there such a discrepancy in the calorie content of dried versus canned black beans?
What do you think of Lipton's diet green or white flavored teas?
Is hummus a good snack?
What's the nutrition information for this meal from Outback Steakhouse?
Where can you purchase this no salt chicken broth?
Do you have any suggestions for sources of sprouts?
Is popcorn a good snack?
Does oatmeal contain purines?
Which form of oats is better for me: cooked oatmeal or granola?
Is there a difference in calories if I cook my oatmeal less?
Which is worse for me--margarine or mayonnaise?
How do I make rock candy syrup?
What soup would you suggest with this menu for a dinner party?
How do you calculate calories in a marinade?