Ask the Nutritionist

FoodFit Answers Your Toughest
Nutrition Questions


Christine Palumbo, MBA, RD
Specialty: Family Nutrition

Q. In his best-selling book, a dermatologist claims that the right diet can prevent wrinkles and delay the signs of aging. Any validity to this?

A. Women (and men) are as self-conscious today as ever about their appearance, and are fascinated by claims that they can retain their youthful look even as they age. So it's no wonder that a popular series of books explaining how to banish wrinkles in three days is generating so much attention. The claim is that wrinkles are caused by inflammation, and that a diet based on salmon (even for breakfast!), vegetables, fruits and lots of liquids will eliminate that. The diet banishes red meat, cheese, white flour, sugar, and alcohol. There is also a line of recommended nutritional supplements that runs $120 per month.

The problem is, although the author claims he has conducted research on the topic, there are no studies connected with wrinkles or diet. It is true that several years ago an unrelated study did suggest that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and unsaturated fats might help ward off wrinkles over a lifetime.

Unfortunately there is no evidence that wrinkles are caused by inflammation. If they were, taking aspirin would work a lot better than eating salmon. The diet is a high protein, low carbohydrate diet that provides fewer calories than normal. This diet can reduce disease risk and influence how you age, but it's doubtful that it can "cure" wrinkles.

Q. How does cooking affect the nutritional content of a food? I know that heat can destroy vitamins and minerals in foods, but does it increase or decrease the calorie value, the fat or protein content?

A. You are correct that overcooking certain vegetables can destroy heat-sensitive nutrients such as the B vitamins, vitamin C and folate. Some water-soluble minerals and vitamins can also be lost when you boil vegetables, as many nutrients are spilled out with the cooking water. But cooking foods such as tomatoes or corn helps make their antioxidants more available to the body. Cooking does not significantly alter the caloric content of vegetables.

When you add fat to a low fat food, such as making French fried potatoes, you significantly increase the fat and calories in the potato. The choice of cooking method can also alter the calorie count of protein foods, like meat, chicken and fish. Cooking meats using a method where the fat drips away will reduce the fat and calorie content. For example, broiling pork chops on a broiling pan can reduce the fat. The actual heat used to cook does not alter the protein, fat or calorie content of foods.

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Christine Palumbo, MBA, RD

Christine Palumbo, MBA, RD has been a nutrition communications consultant since 1989, providing dietary counsel and analysis on various nutrition, health and weight management topics to corporate clients and news media outlets nationwide. An active member of the American Dietetic Association (ADA), the Illinois Dietetic Association and the Chicago Dietetic Association for more than twenty years, she has served on a variety of boards and practice group committees within those organizations.

Palumbo has been featured in national women's, health and business magazines, daily newspapers and local and national radio and television programs. She also received the Illinois Dietetic Association's Outstanding Dietitian of the Year award for 2002.

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