Dr. Gourmet Newsletter: November 10, 2008

Chef Tim Says....

Timothy S. Harlan, M.D.There's another big difference that I want to touch on between Spain and the U.S. and that's fast food. Those who have followed columns on my drgourmet.com website know that I believe consumption of cheap, calorie dense fast food like McDonalds, Burger King, KFC and Taco Bell is one of the major health issues facing us.

There is no doubt that the research shows eating fast food as frequently as many Americans do contributes to our problems with obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Of course the fast food companies would have you believe differently, but the research is pretty clear. There is, in fact, a great study that was done here in Spain showing that those young people who do eat more fast food and less traditional Mediterranean fare face an increase in the risk of disease. Spain: Fast Food

Featured Recipe

Sweet Potato Stew with Maple Roasted Pork
Sweet PotatoesThis is a really quick and very easy meal. The hardest part is chopping the potatoes and veggies. The stew almost cooks itself and the pork is a snap in the oven. A great, warming, hearty fall meal.

What is marketed in the U.S. as a sweet potato are usually yams. True sweet potatoes have a pale skin and creamy yellow flesh. These are closely related to russet potatoes and are drier and not very sweet. What is usually sold as a yam in the U.S. is actually a darker skinned sweet potato. The thick orange skin is tough and fibrous and the flesh is moist and also has a rich orange color.

Does Cooking Reduce Nutrients in Foods?

The simple answer is yes - but not by much.

High heat can cause some vitamins to breakdown, including Vitamin C and the B Vitamins. It's the way foods are cooked, however, that affects the amount of vitamins in a finished recipe. Simmering carrots in a beef stew results in a greater loss of these vitamins than when they are quickly sauteed. Cooking does not significantly change most other nutrients, such as fats, minerals and fiber, and many are made more digestible with cooking (as with proteins in meats or fiber in cooked oats).

Much more important is the freshness of the foods you are cooking. The "fresh" fruits and veggies that we eat are sometimes a week or more old before they make it into our refrigerators. In one study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, it was shown that many of the cancer preventing nutrients (known as phytochemicals) are lost as vegetables were aged under conditions similar to those in stores and your refrigerator. Interestingly, canned or frozen vegetables are usually more nutritious because they are preserved soon after being picked.

Eat well, eat healthy, enjoy life!

Timothy S. Harlan, M.D.
Dr. Gourmet

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