Nutrition: More ABC foods from readers

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Smoked salmon. (Dreamstime/TNS)

My recent series on the ABCs of good foods generated some interesting responses. Here are a couple from readers:

"Hi Barbara! Great article on A to Z health foods. Question: no mention of fish. As a nutritionist, looking for your take on fish. I eat it 4-5 times a week in some form. Sorry to ask for free advice. Keep up the great writing." โ€” Kevin M.

Dear Kevin,

My take is that there is more than one good food that starts with the letter F. I mentioned fruit in my column but fish should definitely be on the list as well. Fish and other seafood is rich in top quality protein and low in saturated fat. And fish โ€” especially cold-water varieties like salmon, sardines and tuna โ€” provides valuable omega-3 fats, well-known for their protective effects on the heart.


Fish is also one of few natural foods that contain vitamin D, a hormone-like vitamin with far-reaching health benefits. Experts advise us to consume at least 2 servings of fish each week. If you'd like more free advice on the safety and sustainability of various types of fish, check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program at .

Another reader writes: "I read with interest your page of food recommendations and noted what seemed to me a major omission: baked potatoes.

"In grade school I was taught that sailors got scurvy because they peeled potatoes but when they stopped peeling potatoes scurvy stopped being a problem. When I was a teenager an illness brought me close to death and I was out of school for an entire year. My mother put me on a fast and then my diet consisted of baked potatoes for several months and I recovered. I am now 91 and I continue to run seven and eight miles in the morning. I believe that potatoes are a valuable dietary staple." โ€” Nathaniel F.

Dear Nathaniel,

Well, it certainly didn't hurt you a bit to subsist on baked potatoes for a while during your youth! It's true that potatoes with the skin on contain a good amount of vitamin C to prevent the deficiency disease called scurvy. Cup for cup, potatoes beat out peas (the P food I mentioned in my column) in vitamin C content.

However, potatoes don't quite measure up to the vitamin C in foods such as oranges, grapefruit or strawberries. (We need to eat at least one vitamin C-rich food every day.)

Also, vitamin C does reside in potato skin but most (60-70%) of its vitamin C content is found in the spud's flesh. That said, cooking a potato with the skin on, such as when you bake or boil it, does help to prevent the loss of this essential nutrient.

Guess it just goes to show that a varied diet from all nutrient groups is the real key to long-lasting health. Thanks for writing, dear readers.


Barbara Quinn is a registered dietitian nutritionist affiliated with the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula. Email her at to ยฉ2020 The Monterey County Herald. Visit The Monterey County Herald at . Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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