On Nutrition by Ed Blonz

HEALTH OF THE ANIMAL IS IMPORTANT WHEN EATING LIVER

DEAR DR. BLONZ: I am a retired male, 66 years old, 5'9", 142 pounds and take no doctor-prescribed drugs. In your opinion, what is the nutritional value of a daily consumption of 8 ounces of Low Sodium V8 vegetable juice? I try and eat healthfully, i.e. no red meat, but don't always get my veggies. -- M.M., Sun City, Ariz.

DEAR M.M.: No problems with the V8 juice. I encourage people to eat whole foods: These are the packages made by nature that contain all the nutrients and phytochemicals needed for that particular plant to survive amidst the insults and ravages of nature. You lose a bit of these nutrients when you take steps back to processed food, but your vegetable juice has been only minimally processed. This is not to say that all processed foods are bad; read the labels to see what they are made of. The key is to have real foods -- vegetables, fruits and whole grains -- serve as your foundation. With that as a basis for your diet, the door opens to adding other items. I have no problems with red meat following such an approach.

DEAR DR. BLONZ: Is eating beef liver dangerous? -- J.S., Canada

DEAR J.S.: The liver is a remarkably resilient organ and it is endowed with an ability to regenerate. It has an undeserved reputation as a toxic waste dump, and while it does serve as a clearinghouse for unneeded or unwanted substances, it doesn't hold on to these substances. Its job is to take them out of the bloodstream, make modifications where possible and then send them out of harm's way. If, however, there is an ongoing exposure to dangerous compounds, the liver will be in the midst of the battle. Thus, the health of the animal that the liver comes from is key.

For people in good health with an otherwise healthful diet, an occasional serving of liver should not be a problem. A healthful option is to seek out liver and other meats from grass-fed, organically raised cattle and organic, pastured poultry. Seek out a provider that sells in your area, one who follows a stated philosophy of raising his or her animals on healthful pastures without using hormones or feed additives. You can often find such providers at farmers' markets and natural food stores.

DEAR DR. BLONZ: Maybe you can help me with this fiber problem. In the November 2011 issue of the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter, an article on eating vegetables suggested pureeing veggies and including them in other foods. My concern is about getting the maximum amount of fiber out of the veggies. Does pureeing them reduce the amount of fiber, or is it intact regardless of how the veggie is eaten (raw, steamed, pureed, etc.)? -- V.R.C., via email

DEAR V.R.C.: The process of making a puree out of fresh vegetables (or fruits) does not have a significant impact on its fiber content. Of course, this does not apply to juicers where the fibrous portion of the food is discarded.

Send questions to: "On Nutrition," Ed Blonz, c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO, 64106. Send email inquiries to questions@blonz.com. Due to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.