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Jewish World Review April 2, 2002 / 20 Nisan, 5762

Dr. Ed Blonz

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Consumer Reports

Watch out for scams; Jordan Almonds | DEAR DR. BLONZ: I have a question about a product called Microhydrin. The maker of this product claims it is the best antioxidant known to man, but I have not seen any data from an impartial source. It contains a substance called silica hydride, or nanohydrates. Is there any evidence that it is worth taking? -- F.S., via e-mail

Dear F.S.: I predict that the reason you haven't seen anything from an impartial source is that unbiased studies don't exist. I received a cassette tape about this product years ago. I, like you, could find absolutely no data published in a peer-reviewed journal to support any of the contentions that taking it will have ANY beneficial effect. There is no conspiracy to keep information from the public: The theory behind the product simply lacks biochemical logic. The one thing it does have is faddist marketing, and, unfortunately, many people have been persuaded to buy it. Until reliable evidence is provided to the contrary, one can conclude that the only benefits from this product are financial ones accrued by those who manufacture and sell it.

DEAR DR. BLONZ: I love Jordan Almonds, but now I'm watching my fat intake -- in all its forms. This product's ingredients are listed as sugar, almonds, flour dextrin, artificial colors and flavors, titanium dioxide and carnauba wax. I am concerned about fat in almonds, but I also worry about the carnauba wax. Where does it come from, and does it represent a problem? -- B.N., El Cajon, Calif.

Dear B.N.: Carnauba wax comes from the leaves of the South American wax palm. It is used as a wax or a glaze, and it has GRAS (generally regarded as safe) status. It is one of a number of such compounds used in foods, including the oil-based compounds petrolatum and paraffin. Shellac, another commonly used wax, comes from an Asian insect and is used on candies, jewelry and floor waxes. (Carnauba is also used in car wax.)

Waxes are applied to hard-coated confections such as Jordan Almonds, but they are also used on produce, including tomatoes, apples, bell peppers, avocados, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, all citrus fruits, peaches, pumpkins, eggplants, squash and nuts in hard shells. In produce, waxes are applied to retain moisture, retard flavor loss and enhance appearance. Waxes are not considered harmful and are used only in small amounts. The Center for Produce Quality estimates that 1 pound of wax covers 160,000 pieces of fruit or vegetables.

You mention that you are watching your fat intake, which is all well and fine. Please understand that almonds are good food. There is a big difference between ingesting fat from wholesome food and getting it from donuts or an order of french fries. In addition to being high in protein, almonds are a source of vitamin E, dietary fiber and many of the B vitamins. They contain a number of minerals and are one of the best nondairy sources of calcium and magnesium.

About 80 percent of the calories in almonds comes from fat. Their fat content is a red flag against eating large quantities: The recommended serving size is 25 to 30 almonds, or about 1 ounce per day. At the 1-ounce level, which contains approximately 170 calories and 14 grams of fat, the benefits from eating this food far outweigh any "fat" liability.

The fat in almonds is predominantly monounsaturated, a type found to have little effect on the risk of heart disease in an otherwise healthy diet. One study published in Journal of the American College of Nutrition (June 1998) reported that the cholesterol-lowering effects of a diet using almonds as the main source of fat was comparable to one based on olive oil. Jordan Almonds have a candy coating, which add a bit of sugar, but they are still a superior snack to most candy and "junk" foods.

JWR contributor Ed Blonz, Ph.D., is a nutrition scientist and author of Power Nutrition and the "Your Personal Nutritionist" book series. Send questions to him by clicking here.


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01/03/02: "Thermogenic" weight loss
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© 2002, NEA