On Nutrition by Ed Blonz

Washing Produce: Simple Water Does the Trick

DEAR DR. BLONZ: With the recent reports about food poisonings from fruits and vegetables, I wanted to know the best way to clean produce. Is water enough, or should I use more, such as a diluted solution of dishwashing liquid? -- J.D., Phoenix

DEAR J.D.: Fruits and vegetables can absorb liquids to varying degrees; this means that any fluid you use to wash your produce should be approved for food use. Dishwashing detergents, in general, are not. It is important to always clean your produce in potable, running water before eating. This will usually suffice, but if you desire a product that does more, you should seek out one specifically designed for produce washing.

DEAR DR. BLONZ: Please help me out with two unrelated questions. The first is: Is there anything to the theory I keep hearing that foods not indigenous to the area we live in will not be as nutritious? My second question is: What nutrients does the Mexican platano contain? -- M.S., San Diego

DEAR M.S.: Indigenous foods might be more familiar to our taste buds and to our digestive tracts, but in general, they don’t possess any special health attributes.

A 6-ounce Mexican platano, also known as a plantain, contains about 218 calories, along with 2.3 grams of protein, 57 grams of carbohydrate and less than a gram of fat. It is a vegetable, but it looks like a large, greenish banana with a mottled, rough peel. Plantains blacken when fully ripe, but can be broiled or sauteed at any degree of ripeness. They are a good source of dietary fiber and vitamin C, along with folate, carotene and potassium.

DEAR DR. BLONZ: I would like to express my opinion that your answer to the patient with low thyroid didn’t go far enough in explaining the importance of the thyroid hormone in overall health.

You stated that thyroid replacement “may be a reasonable option,” but did not discuss the potentially serious consequences of not following the physician’s instructions. Low thyroid levels can lead to fatigue, memory loss, weight gain, menstrual irregularities, fluid retention, hair loss and, in extreme cases, even coma.

If a patient has doubts about a physician’s advice, it’s always wisest to discuss the concerns with the physician, and, if doubts persist, to seek a second opinion. Patients should not ignore the physician’s advice without letting the physician know about their concerns. I feel that this additional information should be imparted to S.T. and your other readers. -- C.D., M.D.

DEAR DR. C.D.: Many thanks for the read, and for providing the added emphasis.

Send questions to: “On Nutrition,” Ed Blonz, c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 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.