Happy Herbivore Blog

May 26, 2012

This Week's Q&A (Talking Oil, Cravings, B12 & More!)

You've got questions, I've got answers!

1. I know with some food, people say cooking them caramelizes the sugars, such as onions and pineapple (bananas?). Does this literally make the sugar content higher? Or just make it more noticeable?

According to Jeff Novick, RD MS, "caramelization is a chemical reaction that makes the sugars sweeter but in general does not make the sugar content higher."

Red bell pepper and mushrooms in the vegan Spicy Mushroom StirFry

2. I just had my gallbladder removed. This has really opened my eyes and I know I have to get back on my healthier vegetarian/vegan lifestyle. My doctor says I need a low fat, low cholesterol somewhat bland diet for the next few months. I have HHC and EHH, but only being a few days post surgery I am a little overwhelmed. I love spicy stuff but I can't have it, and I think thats where I am hitting a creative block...Any recipe suggestions from either of your books?

As long as you don't do any of the Cajun recipes, you should be fine. You can also choose to omit the hot spices in any given recipe.

3. I am a Type O blood type and I get HUGE cravings for animal protein when I avoid it. Do you have any pointers?

I have type O and never have cravings... it sounds like you're not craving meat, but some nutrient you've come to associate with meat. I would suggest having your iron and other nutrient levels checked. Your body might be associating a specific nutrient with meat. You can also check out my posts on Food Cravings and Food Addictions and Dealing with Food Cravings.

4. I have a questions about B12 - I have heard that most vegans take a supplement as this vitamin is not in most plants? I didn't think this could be true - how do you get enough vitamin B12 and what foods can you find it in?

B12 is fortified into a lot of foods you eat -- like nondairy milk, nutritional yeast, cereals, etc. Here is a great article about B12 by Dr. McDougall, Vitamin B12 Deficiency--the Meat-eaters' Last Stand.

portobello mushroom steak with asparagus and carrots on a plate

5. I have heard tons of vegans, vegetarians, and other health enthusiast rave about how awesome coconut oil is. I have read that it helps boost memory, regulate blood sugar and so on. I have also read that some believe it to be just simply saturated fat and that people should steer clear. I am curious what your thoughts on coconut oil are?

I'm anti all oils because they are all very unhealthy, processed foods that damage your heart -- with coconut being the worst since it's so high in saturated fat.

Here is Dr. Esselstyn's statement:

Q: Olive oil, canola oil, coconut oil, Sunflower oil, soybean oil, peanut oil, any oil - Which oil is best?

A: Avoid oils. They injure the endothelium, the innermost lining of the artery, and that injury is the gateway to vascular disease.

Jeff Novick, RD wrote this article on coconut oil, Marketing Junk Food: Don't Go Cuckoo Over Coconut Oil.

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