Dr. James Carlson’s daughter’s teacher recently posed a brain teaser:
Ok, so I’m eating lunch with my daughter yesterday when she shares with me that she had a nutritional quiz last week….
The question asked “Pick the healthiest snack from the foods listed below:”
- potato chips
- ice cream
Wow, this is an awfully tough question for high school students! No doubt it would baffle most nutritionists, but I’ll give it a shot. (Fools rush in, etc.)
The worst of these snacks is surely the cookie. Wheat is the single most toxic food in everyday diets, most cookies have excessive sugar, and many commercial cookies are made with omega-6-rich vegetable oils – a triple dose of toxins. Of course, almost any recipe can be repaired. Some people, but not us, have baked Paleo cookies. Paleo-Zone’s recipe has a lot of fructose and omega-6 fats – not recommended. Andrew’s Paleo Cookies and Paleo Mama’s Almost-Oatmeal Raisin Cookies look better. But, since cookies are for kids and kids love chocolate chip cookies, we’ll go with Josephine’s recipe from Nutty Kitchen.
The healthfulness of potato chips is primarily determined by the oil used in their preparation. McDonald’s French fries used to be healthy when they were made with beef tallow; now that they are made with vegetable oil, not so much. Since vegetable oils are so prevalent, I would avoid any potato chips that aren’t home-made – especially ones that have sat on a shelf. If there’s anything worse than omega-6 fats, it’s rancid omega-6 fats. Condition of the potatoes is also important: potatoes develop toxins after exposure to light or heat, or if the peel is broken. This can be avoided by using sweet potatoes, or by keeping potatoes in cool, dark conditions throughout their life and discarding any that have changed color. Home-made chips or fries, made from thick-sliced sweet potatoes, with butter or beef tallow as the fat, are quite healthy. Salt on the chips is nothing to be alarmed about, indeed a little salt is essential for health.
Apples are, with pears, perhaps the least healthy of fruits due to their high fructose content. A little fructose is tolerable on a low-carb diet, especially after a period of fasting, but on a high-carb diet is a pretty effective poison. The quick browning of apple slices exposed to air is a clue to their toxicity. Berries, which have significantly less fructose, are safer, healthier, and to my palate tastier. Especially if combined with heavy cream.
Ice cream can be among the healthiest of desserts. Again, homemade is best: commercial ice creams often include skim milk, which adds undesirable dairy proteins, and excessive sugar. We make ice cream with 6 egg yolks, a pint of heavy cream, and flavorings to taste. We usually flavor with berries, nuts, vanilla extract, and sometimes cocoa powder, with a bit of sugar. As long as the sugar content is low, and you aren’t sensitive to the dairy proteins in the cream, this is a very healthy dessert. Some dark chocolate doesn’t hurt its healthfulness. Tapioca can be mixed in to provide fructose-free carbs and “resistant starch” fiber.
So, what’s the healthiest snack? In our home, probably the ice cream, thanks to the nutritious egg yolks, the fat-rich macronutrient ratio, and the berries and nuts. Sweet potato chips would be second, and the apple third.
Of course, if the apple had a worm in it, that might put it over the top. If it was a nutritious worm!