DEAR DR. BLONZ: I want your help in settling a cholesterol discussion involving chicken. Does removing the skin from chicken before you eat it get rid of the cholesterol? Also, I grill chicken with the skin on to keep it from drying out, giving people the option of removing it before the meal. How does this compare with removing the skin before cooking? And to reduce cholesterol in other types of meat, does it help if I purchase leaner cuts? -- C.L., Phoenix
DEAR C.L.: There is a small amount of cholesterol in the skin and fat, but most is in the meat -- both light and dark. This holds true for beef, pork and lamb, as well. Buying leaner cuts does little to reduce the cholesterol in the meal.
While the various types of blood cholesterol continue to be monitored, concern about the cholesterol in our foods has shifted a bit. Research evidence points to the level of fat in the diet -- especially partially hydrogenated fat and saturated fat -- as having more of an effect on our blood cholesterol than the amount of actual cholesterol in the foods we eat.
Also key is the need to avoid the excessive intake of simple sugars. Those naturally present in fresh fruits are fine, but we need to avoid added sugars as much as possible. The combination of an active lifestyle with a balanced diet -- focused on fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds -- is the best move.
Personally, I use my grill for many types of foods. Regarding chicken, I favor keeping the skin on during grilling for flavor and to prevent dryness. Care, of course, must be taken to avoid flare-ups when grilling skin-side down. Once the chicken is cooked, the skin can be removed, if desired. And it should definitely be removed if the skin has been blackened. So, while you need to cook foods completely, avoid overcooking and keep in mind that food does continue to cook for several minutes after it has been removed from the grill.
DEAR DR. BLONZ: I have some orange trees, and I freeze the juice since there are too many oranges to eat while fresh. Does freezing take away any of the good nutrition of the orange? -- J.F., Chula Vista, California
DEAR J.F.: Fresh oranges, or their juice, are a wholesome food. The orange contains vitamin C, folic acid, vitamin B6 and potassium, in addition to a variety of phytochemicals designed to help it thrive in the sun. There is no problem with fresh-frozen orange juice; the goodness in the fresh juice will be waiting to jump into your glass after it defrosts.
Freezing is an interesting method of food preservation. Cold slows down reactions associated with spoilage. The bonus with freezing is that water forms crystals when frozen, making it unavailable to bacteria and other microorganisms that need water to thrive.
You want to be sure to keep any food well covered, with a minimum of dead space around it. When freezing, allow for expansion. Frozen water crystals take up about 9 percent more space than the same quantity of water as a liquid.
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