DEAR DR. BLONZ: Do fruits and vegetables put in a blender have the same fiber value as if eaten normally? -- D.D., La Jolla, California
DEAR D.D.: There is no problem with the blender, as the fiber and nutrient values are the same. You are eating the entirety of the same foods that went into the blender. The physical breakdown that takes place in the blender may end up causing the food to spend slightly less time in your stomach, but the net effect of the fiber should be the same. The same could not be said for a juicer, in which the fibrous bulk gets separated from the food and is not a part of the final product.
DEAR DR. BLONZ: It was my understanding that there is a considerable difference between soybean oil and palm oil. A popular whole-grain cracker lists in its ingredients "soybean and/or palm oil." If there is a significant nutritional difference between these two oils, isn't this somewhat deceptive? The product even has a red heart symbol, saying it may help reduce the risk of heart disease. Why are they allowed to use this seal if one oil ingredient is of questionable health value? -- M.M., Humbolt, California
DEAR M.M.: There is nothing deceptive about an ingredient statement indicating that a product contains soy and/or palm oil. That red heart seal on the product is likely based on the fact that the cracker is made from whole grains, and that the food is low in total and saturated fat. The numbers on the Nutrition Facts panel would have to be accurate irrespective of the oil or oils used.
Your concern about palm oil is misplaced. Palm oil is about 49 percent saturated, 37 percent monounsaturated and 10 percent polyunsaturated. You may have been thinking about palm kernel oil. Although from the same plant, palm kernel oil is quite different from palm oil: Palm kernel oil is around 82 percent saturated, 11 percent monounsaturated and 2 percent polyunsaturated. If you enjoy these crackers, the either/or oil ingredient should not be a reason to cross it off your list.
DEAR DR. BLONZ: Is there a vitamin or mineral that can reduce the dark circles under my eyes? -- K.K., Sedona, Arizona
DEAR K.K.: Darkness under the eyes can be brought about by a number of factors. Perhaps the most common cause is a natural thinness in the skin under the eyes. The skin isn't darker in that area, but it is thinner, which makes it easy to see the vascular bed underneath. This trait can run in families, and it doesn't necessarily reflect any health problem. If one is fatigued, under stress, or affected by allergies, the skin can lose its natural vascular glow; when this happens, the thin skin under the eyes can take on a paler tone and make the underlying vascular bed appear more prominent. I am sorry to say that aside from any vitamins you already take for your overall health, I have seen no evidence that specific vitamins or minerals can eliminate this problem.
Send questions to: "On Nutrition," Ed Blonz, c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO, 64106. Send email inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Due to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.