On Nutrition by Ed Blonz

DON'T LOOK TO IMITATION CRAB FOR OMEGA-3 FATS

DEAR DR. BLONZ: Please tell me what you know about "imitation crab meat." I know it doesn't contain crab, and the type I buy is actually made from Alaskan pollock. Do the treatment, coloring and flavoring processes change the amount of omega-3 fats in it? -- E.E.

DEAR E.E.: It is a good source of protein, but pollock is considered a moderate to low source of omega-3 fats. It is comparable to that found in actual crab: a 3-ounce serving of Dungeness crab contains 383 milligrams, while a similar serving of Alaskan pollock contains 418 milligrams. The levels in these are about one-fourth of those found in salmon. Read more about Alaskan pollock at tinyurl.com/mnsfevl.

The processing of pollock into an imitation shellfish, however, will bring the level down quite a bit. The fish will be deboned, rinsed and minced, then flavored, colored and reformed to resemble the muscle fiber and taste impression of the desired variety of crab. It is not a process that's kind to the omega-3 fats. A 3-ounce serving of pollock surimi contains only 26 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids.

DEAR DR. BLONZ: It has often been my habit to swallow my vitamins with a cup of hot coffee. My friend was shocked that I do this. My question is whether the hot liquid affects the quality of the pills. My friend believes that I am negating the effect that the pill is meant to achieve. -- S.C.

DEAR S.C.: Aside from the risk of ruining your ability to enjoy the taste of your coffee, there is no basis to fear that you are negating any effects the pills are meant to achieve, to use your words.

DEAR DR. BLONZ: Thank you for your explanation of high fructose corn syrup. I have heard various other things on this topic. I asked a local physics professor why it was not good for you, and he said, "It has a component in it that interferes with the body's ability to know when one is full. In essence, it keeps the door open." Then, on TV, a man explained that it was bad for the liver because with soft drinks in an empty stomach, for example, the liver gets too much to process at once. Are you aware of these factors? -- E.P.

DEAR E.P.: Sweetened soft drinks would not be considered a healthful beverage in any situation, and especially not when consumed on an empty stomach, consumed to excess, or as a part of an overall unhealthful diet. Studies reporting negative effects are usually collected using these types of circumstances.

In such situations, there is no real compelling evidence that one (HFCS) is worse than the other (sugar); they are both bad. You shouldn't be having sweetened beverages on an empty stomach. As for it being bad for the liver, this again would relate to the level of intake. The concept of excessive consumption is the basis for most of the bad effects reported on sugars in scientific literature.

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.