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    Archive for the ‘lobster’ Category

    Who Said It?: Reveal

    dr-oz-0304-lg-85334211Interviewer: Is all seafood good for you?

    Our subject’s answer: “Nope. Some of the crustaceans have cholesterol — shrimp, crab, lobster.”

    This is what Dr. Oz told Esquire magazine last year.  Granted, the rest of his nutrition-related answers (except for one other, which I discuss below) are accurate.  However, I am extremely surprised that someone who considers himself a nutrition expert is not up to date on dietary cholesterol research.

    When it comes to issues of heart disease, dietary cholesterol is waaay down on the list of troublemakers.  Trans fats, excessive omega-6 intake, insufficient omega-3 intake, high intakes of sugar, and certain saturated fats (mainly those in the meat and milk of corn and grain-fed cattle) are of much more concern.

    Shrimp, crab, and lobster are not “unhealthy” because they contain cholesterol.  Besides, wild salmon contains cholesterol, so why is Dr. Oz singling out crustaceans?

    In an attempt to avoid cholesterol in crustaceans, many people instead opt for red meat which offers lower levels of cholesterol but significantly higher levels of problematic saturated fatty acids (and not a single milligram of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids).

    Another one of Dr. Oz’s misguided tips — he recommends eating “wheat crust” pizza.  This is one of the most aggravating tips, because… well, it isn’t a tip at all!  White flour is made from wheat; ergo, it is wheat crust.  “Wheat” does not mean whole grain.  The real tip is to aim for “100% whole wheat” crust.

    The whole “wheat bread is healthier than white bread” idea needs to be squashed immediately.  Too many times, breads simply labeled as “wheat” are made from white flour with caramel color or molasses thrown in to give it a healthy-looking brown tint.

    It is statements like these (along with others I have pointed out on the blog) that truly make me wonder why Dr. Oz is viewed as a “nutrition” guru.  The two tips mentioned in this post are basic Nutrition 101 information.

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    Who Said it?

    QuestionMark-300x2991Interviewer: Is all seafood good for you?

    Our subject’s answer: “Nope. Some of the crustaceans have cholesterol — shrimp, crab, lobster.”

    Leave your guess in the “comments” section and come back on Sunday for the reveal — and to find out why I take issue with the above answer.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Farmed Seafood

    shrimpThanks for all the information about farmed salmon.  I had no idea Atlantic salmon was grown in such nasty conditions.

    The other day at a restaurant, I had the following grilled seafood choices to add to a salad: squid, shrimp, tuna, and lobsters.

    Are any of these farmed, or can I order them knowing they are all wild?  I already know about mercury in tuna; in this instance I am only interested in the farming vs. wild issue.

    — Steve Wilmott
    (Location withheld)

    Seafood opens up Pandora’s box.  Frankly, the more I read about the fishing and farming of many marine animals, the more turned off I am.

    There’s the mercury issue with tuna, the salmon farming hot topic, concerns regarding overfishing and completely unsustainable catching methods that threaten to render certain species extinct and practically destroy ecosystems, and then… there’s the issue of Country of Origin Labeling.

    Let’s start at the beginning.

    In regards to your question: tuna and squid are not farmed.  Roughly half of all shrimp in the world are farmed.  The vast majority of lobsters, meanwhile, are wild-caught.

    The shrimp issue is interesting.  Whereas shrimp farms in the United States are subject to certain regulations (mainly relating to waste treatment and antibiotic use), the overwhelming majority of the world’s farmed shrimp — mainly housed in China, India, and Thailand — are harvested in awful conditions.  Their water is laden with copious amounts of chemicals, antibiotics, and pesticides that are strictly illegal in the United States by the Environmental Protection Agency.

    Since more than three quarters of the shrimp sold in the United States is imported from those countries (and is very rarely inspected for those substances upon arriving to these shores), chances are the shrimp you eat has not been raised in the most pristine conditions.

    Making matters more complicated?  Depending on the species, farmed shrimp (the US kind) is a more environmentally-friendly choice than some wild-caught species that are obtained through methods that pose very negative consequences on ecosystems.  This is where personal choice and priorities come into play.  Do you value health over environment?  Environment over health?  Both equally?

    Of course, this would all be much easier to navigate if Country of Origin Labeling were implemented more effectively.

    Currently, United States law mandates that unprocessed seafood served at supermarkets be labeled with the country of origin as well as a “farmed” or “wild-caught” status.  For whatever reason, restaurants and specialty stores are exempt from this requirement.

    One of my absolute favorite resources is the Seafood Watch Pocket Guide, tailored to various different regions.

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    Numbers Game: Answer

    Which of the following provides the highest amount of omega-3 fatty acids?

    a) 4 ounces of fresh cold-water salmon
    b) 4 ounces of canned sardines (in oil)
    c) 4 ounces of fresh lobster
    d) 4 ounces of canned salmon

    e) Trick question. They all provide the same amount!

    The correct answer is “d” — canned salmon. Four ounces pack in 2.2 grams of Omega-3 fatty acids!

    The remaining fish?

    4 ounces of fresh cold-water salmon provide 1.7 grams, sardines contribute 1.8 grams, and fresh lobster contains 0.1 grams.

    Omega-3’s are essential (meaning our bodies can not produce them) polyunsaturated fatty acids that have been linked in hundreds of studies to lower risks of heart disease, cancers, rheumatoid arthritis, and even Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

    Recommendations are currently set at 1 to 2 grams a day (or 7 – 14 grams a week).

    Why does canned salmon edge out cold-water salmon? Simple — all canned salmon is wild.

    The figure for cold-water salmon, meanwhile, is an average that takes into account wild and farmed salmon.

    Farmed salmon offers lower levels of Omega-3 fatty acids since they are fed grains (rather than subsisting on a natural diet of small marine creatures).

    Although all salmon is a great source of Vitamin D (four ounces provide a day’s worth!), canned salmon offers an additional bonus — calcium. Turns out the cooking process softens the bones to such a degree that they can be eaten.

    The result? A quarter of your day’s calcium needs in a (lactose-free) four-ounce piece!

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    Say What?: Top Chef Misses the Mark

    As a self-confessed reality show and food fanatic, I am sure it would not surprise you to know I am an avid Top Chef watcher.

    In brief, it is a competitive reality show on Bravo in which 15 contestants — ranging from professional to self-taught chefs — compete in a series of tasks.

    This week’s main challenge consisted of giving classic comfort foods a modern and healthy spin. Some of the dishes included meatloaf, fried chicken, and pork chops with applesauce.

    To my dismay, the only criteria contestants were given as to how to make their dishes healthier was simply to lower the amount of cholesterol in them.

    I literally groaned when I heard this guideline and then contestants explaining, “I’m using turkey sausage instead of pork sausage to lower the cholesterol in my dish.”

    One contestant took a risk and made a dish with lobster — a food moderately high in cholesterol that also offers healthy fats and other nutrients — making the case that people shouldn’t be so afraid of cholesterol.

    “Right on!” I thought.

    The judges, however, reprimanded him.

    Were they regular Small Bites readers, they would know that dietary cholesterol does not affect blood cholesterol as much as saturated and trans fats.

    Additionally, lobster contains omega-3 fatty acids, which provide a wide array of health benefits, including lowering the risk of developing atherosclerosis (the hardening of arteries)!

    Here’s another perfect example. Three ounces of shrimp contain 166 milligrams of cholesterol (more than half the recommended daily maximum) but only 0.2 grams of saturated fat.

    People going on a low-cholesterol diet would shun them and instead opt for a lower-cholesterol protein food like lean top sirloin. Hey, you can get twice as much (six ounces) and only get 95 grams of cholesterol. But here’s the catch — you are also getting four whole grams of saturated fat!

    So, the lower-cholesterol option is actually the one that will worsen your blood cholesterol!

    If you are truly concerned about your blood cholesterol levels, forget cholesterol in food and instead pay close attention to your saturated and trans fat intake.

    Quick refresher: saturated fats are found in animal by-products (except those that are fat-free), while man-made trans fats are mainly in baked goods and shelf-stable processed foods.

    Additionally, be sure to consume foods high in soluble fiber (oat products, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds).

    Which bring me to another faux pas. One contestant made a flatbread with whole flaxseeds, for which he was commended. “Flaxseeds lower cholesterol,” the dietitian-free panel explained.

    I, however, was not satisfied with that erroneous statement. Remember, in order to enjoy all the benefits of flaxseeds, we need to consume them in their ground (or “meal”) form. Whole flaxseeds pass through our digestive systems completely undetected!

    I’ll definitely leave opinions on whether a vanilla bean or pomegranate reduction goes better with a rhubarb tart up to the Top Chef experts, as long as they promise to bring on a nutrition consultant for their next season.

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