DEAR DR. BLONZ: In a recent column, you gave some information on roasted nuts. I have read the book “Diet and Salad” by Norman Walker, D.Sc., in which he wrote: “Nuts which have been cooked, roasted or otherwise subjected to excessive heat are harmful on account of the change which takes place in the fat under these conditions. The reaction on (sic) the liver and gall bladder is then detrimental and may sooner or later interfere with the complete and proper function of these organs.”
Given this, you might want to rethink your answer or at least do a bit more research. -- V.R., via email
DEAR V.R.: Thanks for your note, but I have no confidence in the scientific statements and related opinions of Norman W. Walker. The records I consulted indicate that he was a businessman, not a scientist. The book you cite indicates Walker had a D.Sc. (doctor of science), and on others of his books, his name is followed by “Ph.D.” However, I could find no indication of any earned graduate degree in nutrition or any field related to food science or health.
I will certainly acknowledge that peanuts are not “officially” nuts; they are in the legume family, which has been mentioned before in this column and in my books. Even so, the nutrient composition of peanuts makes it reasonable to include them in discussions about nuts and seeds. Those who have adverse reactions to peanuts, including allergies, must certainly stay away from them. But aside from those medical constraints, peanuts -- when properly grown, harvested and roasted -- are not toxic, nor are roasted nuts in general.
Walker was an advocate of raw foods and juicing, so much of his writing reflects a bias against any form of cooking. His paragraph on peanuts uses the term “excessive heat.” Of course, if you burn nuts (or peanuts), they will be damaged and can form harmful substances -- but this can be said for most foods. It does not apply if nuts are correctly roasted. Consider, also, that burned nuts (and peanuts) will have a nasty smell and will no longer be palatable.
Peanuts, and nuts in general, tend to be healthful additions to the diet. Walker’s writings imply that any roasted nuts are dangerous, and I’m afraid that’s not right. We are all entitled to our opinions, but the statements in that paragraph are nutty, to say the least.
DEAR DR. BLONZ: In a cooking show I saw, the chef said that when we eat meat, as with a steak, we are eating cow muscle. I brought the subject up during a conversation recently, and was immediately disagreed with. This person said that we are eating the “fleshy part,” whatever that is. Please elaborate a little so that I may forward it to that individual. -- R.S., Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
DEAR R.S.: Steak and other “muscle meats” do come from an animal’s muscle tissue. “Flesh” can refer to meat, soft tissue (including muscle and fat) or organs such as the liver or kidney. As a generic term, it can refer to animal tissue in general.
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