How strongly I've believed in whole-grain, whole-wheat bread and brown rice began with Dr. Mauer, my grandmother. I loved staying at her house and waking-up to her Grandma-made breakfast of fresh fruit with a dollop of her homemade yogurt, and a drizzle of honey; topped with a heavy-handed dusting of wheat germ.
All good you say?
Not if you read Dr. Steven Gundry's: "The Plant Paradox: The Hidden Dangers in "Healthy" Foods That Cause Disease and Weight Gain" (HarperCollins). Gundry puts a well-written, very understandable new spin on all sorts of food paradigms that I and perhaps you have taken for granted.
Here are three of his assertions:
First paradox: wheat germ is not health-producing thanks to its wheat germ agglutinin content.
Never heard of WGA? Me neither. WGA is a lectin. Wheat gluten's another lectin. You can see where this is going.
Wheat germ's WGA was meant to repel growing wheat's predators and, after harvest, WGA rides along with every wheat grain; affecting humans, too.
Paradox number 2 (and this one isn't a plant): the casein (a type of protein) in cows' milk (even organic) produced in the USA.
Nearly all American cows' milk contains A1 beta-casein. European cows' milk contains A2 beta-casein, which is very different. Gundry states that folks with lactose-intolerance could be intolerant of the A1 beta-casein in American milk. Patients of his who traveled to Europe and consumed European dairy products had no difficulty with A2 beta-casein.
On Gundry's food plan, he steers clear of nearly all American dairy products. Buffalo and goat's milk products are permitted because they're mostly A2 beta-casein. Last weekend I sampled a goat's milk, extra-sharp cheddar that tasted so much like a cow's milk cheddar few folks could tell the difference.
My third surprise was learning how many vegetables there are that are fruits. Of course, most people know tomatoes (which are not part of Gundry's food plan) are a fruit.
Did you know that avocados, cucumbers, zucchini and summer squash, sweet peppers, pumpkin, butternut squash, olives, eggplant, and sugar snap peas are also fruits?
Using historical, agricultural and nutritional information, especially about lectins, Gundry presents the reader with YES" and "NO" food lists for his healthy eating plan.
Gundry's "YES" list includes oils (such as olive, coconut and avocado -- saying "YES" to avocado oil mayonnaise), stevia (SweetLeaf is Gundry's favorite), nuts (like macadamia, walnuts and pistachios), all olives and all kinds of vinegar. All herbs and seasonings (except red pepper flakes) make the YES list as do a variety of flours (not wheat). Almost all non-cow's milk American dairy products are OK'd (say "YES" to Trader Joe's Buffalo butter). Many fruits rate a YES (such as avocados, blueberries, and cherries -- sorry, no bananas), many vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, and asparagus, most leafy greens, plus grass-fed, grass-finished beef and humanely-raised pork and pastured poultry (not free-range) and some wild-caught fish.
Gundry's "NO" list includes all such starchy foods as pasta, rice and potatoes. All sugars and artificial sweeteners, several nuts and seeds (such as cashews, peanuts and sunflower) and melons are on the NO list. Also rating a NO are oats, brown rice and such oils as soy, peanut, corn and cotton seed, plus five others.
Gundry includes some of his recipes at his book's end, which seems good, but not great (he's a doctor, not a chef). With all the promises of health Gundry makes in his book, based on his anecdotal medical experience, I'm headed down Gundry's path to see where it leads.
Gundry's chili recipe is not from his book, but from his website. I tweaked it a little but was pleasantly surprised at how good a chili could be without beans or tomatoes. Give it a try.
• Don Mauer welcomes questions, comments and recipe makeover requests. Write to him at don@ theleanwizard.com.