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Expert Q&A: Antiaging and Diet

An interview with David Grotto, RD, LDN.

If you don't like oatmeal, what about Cheerios?

Research suggests that all oats are good for you. But I have to say, we were doing oatmeal research with Chicago firefighters, and it was 100 degrees in the firehouse. So I had them take Quaker Oats and make muesli out of it, not cook it. Three-quarters of a cup seems to be the magical amount. It's the soluble fiber that may play role in the aging process.

An interesting thing about oatmeal -- it makes your body produce nitric oxide, which helps blood to flow more freely. That allows more oxygen and nutrients to all the cells including skin cells.

The firefighters were saying they felt better, had more energy.

Are you Mr. Perfect? Do you do anything wrong?

I'm a guy who likes to eat. I became a dietitian not because I'm enamored of nutrients but because I love food.

Ironically, when I was writing about getting butts and guts smaller, mine got bigger. I gained 20 pounds while writing the book! My cholesterol shot up to 238! I realized, I'm not following my own advice. I would literally be sitting down till all hours -- typical new-writer syndrome. Midway into writing my book, my wake-up call was my cholesterol check.

In one month I lost 10 pounds and my cholesterol went down to 168 -- by adding in foods rather than taking them away.

The key was a hearty bowl of oatmeal I had every morning -- with a handful of almonds, pistachios, walnuts, pecans, plus I added in fruits of every 'erry' -- cherry, raspberry, 'pomegranate-erry.' Every single day. I also ate three pieces of fatty fish a week. I also got a half-hour of physical activity every day. Some days I could do more, but 30 minutes at least.

This is important -- I didn't give up any favorite foods. In fact, the day I got my cholesterol rechecked, I went into Chicago and stopped at Jimmy's, this place that has an incredible pork chop sandwich that's smothered and buttered. I had one of those, and realized -- whoops, maybe that was not a good idea before my cholesterol test.

But the interesting thing was, I had a 70-point drop in my cholesterol. Imagine how good it would have been if hadn't had that pork chop sandwich! That really reinforced this concept -- that we're so focused on what to give up. My patients say exactly the same thing. They're starving for information on what to add to their diet -- they don't want to give up favorite foods.

So what do you tell people who want to lose weight?

We keep talking about moderation. I don't think people know what moderation is. You can eat foods you really like, but eat them in smaller portions -- don't give them up. Don't even think about doing that! But do add the others in a delicious way.

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Reviewed on December 02, 2008

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