Are wild blueberries pesticide free?

Q. I buy wild blueberries because I assume they are not treated with pesticides. Am I correct about this?

A. Not necessarily. It’s possible that growers may cultivate “wild” blueberries for the commercial market and they may apply pesticides to reduce weeds or insects. (Here, for example, is some information from the Maine Extension for farmers who want to improve the yield of their wild blueberry crops.

For that matter, wild blueberries growing next to a farm could potentially be exposed to pesticides used on other crops.

Wild blueberries that are certified organic should be free of all but organic-approved pesticides. But either way, I don’t think that pesticides on blueberries poses a concern for your health.
According to the pesticide residue calculator at Safe Fruits and Veggies, you could consume over 13,000 servings of blueberries in a day without being exposed to a harmful amount of pesticide reside, even if the blueberries had the highest level of pesticides residue ever measured by the USDA.

Is collagen protein safe and effective?

Naomi writes:

When opening a new container of Vital Proteins Collagen I saw a warning about possible lead content. Should I change my choice of collagen or stop using it altogether?  I am 65 and thought it would be beneficial for my hair and skin.

It’s hard to know for sure without a chemical analysis, but this warning may just be a corporate cover-your-hiney thing. I don’t think you necessarily need to throw away your new (and probably fairly pricey) container of collagen protein. But I’m also skeptical about its benefits for joints, skin, hair, or nails. Continue reading “Is collagen protein safe and effective?” >

Should you throw out your nonstick pans?


I’ve been getting lots of questions relating to the documentary Dark Waters.

For example, Dannette wrote:

“I just  watched the movie “Dark Waters” which makes the case against Teflon.  I immediately threw away my nonstick pans. I’m concerned about ALL nonstick surfaces now. I’m not sure if I need to be. I’d love it if you watched it and then let me know what you think. I love having a good nonstick pan, but it isn’t worth my family’s long term health. I just want to figure out what my best options are for being completely safe cooking for my family.”

7/5/20 UPDATE: In my original response (posted here on June 25th), I disclosed that I had not seen the movie Dark Waters.  Unfortunately, that did not keep me from making some false assumptions about it.   In response to valid criticisms, I’ve removed my original comments about the movie Dark Waters, which included some inaccuracies.  (See the comments for several thoughtful descriptions of the movie).

This doesn’t change my answer to Dannette’s question. Although I don’t personally use it, I don’t think users of modern nonstick cookware need to be concerned about chemicals leaching into their food.  But let me add some additional context:

Although PFOA persists in the environment,  it is no longer used in nonstick cookware.  And even when it was used in Teflon cookware, the primary threat was not due to exposure from use of the pans but from industrial dumping of the chemical into the water supply.

Although I’m not afraid of poisoning myself or my family by using nonstick cookware,I prefer to use stainless steel, cast iron, glass, and silicone. I use a little oil or cooking spray when necessary.  I sometimes have to clean a pan.

But the choices that we make individually about which products we use do not necessarily protect us from industrial chemicals that may be harmful to the environment in which we all live.

There are ongoing, legitimate concerns about the process by which industrial chemicals are tested and approved for safety and impact on the environment, including downstream effects on wildlife and human life.

Thank you to all who helped clarify this issue.

Dangers of powdered milk and other things you probably don’t need to worry about

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Immune Boosting Fact Check

In the chaos surrounding the novel coronavirus, there is a lot of information swirling around about foods and nutrients that can “boost your immune system.”  Some of it is not terribly accurate. In this Live Q&A, I answer your questions about specific supplements and highlight the most effective things you can do to keep yourself and your family safe.

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How Much Fat Can You Lose?

The other day, I was browsing nutrition headlines when I came across a summary of some new research on exercise and fat loss, which concluded that “it is not possible to lose more than 1 kilogram of fat per month.” (A kilogram is just over 2 pounds).

Not possible to lose more than 2 pounds of fat per month? Most diets promise that you’ll lose that much every week!

This article is also available as a podcast. Click to listen.

Intrigued, I pulled up the actual study, which was published last month in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, and read the whole thing. Weirdly, however, the study said absolutely nothing about the amount of fat that can be lost per month. The researchers were looking at the amount of fat that can be oxidized during a single exercise session.

So, I tracked down the researcher, Dr. Juan del Coso Garrigós, who lives and works in Madrid, Spain. He explained that his comment about it being impossible to lose more than 1 kilogram of fat per month in fact had nothing to do with his recent study. Apparently, it was taken out of context from a different part of the interview, which was also translated from Spanish. It just goes to show you how easy it is for bad information to get into widespread circulation.

As long as I had him, though, I took the opportunity to ask him more about his research. Dr. del Coso Garrigós explained that, when conditions are just right, well-trained athletes can burn about three-quarters of a gram of fat per minute during moderate intensity exercise. The rest of us seem to max out at about a half a gram of fat per minute or 30 g of fat per hour.

How Much Fat Can You Burn with Exercise?

At that rate, it’ll take most of us about 15 hours of moderate intensity exercise to burn a pound of body fat. Exercise for one hour a day, and you can hope to lose about 2 pounds (or about 1 kilogram) of fat per month. Exercise for longer than 60 minutes a day and you could hope to lose more. You can also get your body to oxidize fat by eating less, which forces your body to convert some of its fat stores into energy.

As Dr. del Coso Garrigós confirmed, it is theoretically possible to lose more than a kilogram of fat per month. That said, he and I both agree that losing more than a couple of pounds of body fat per month is both difficult and rare.

Of course, most diets promise that you’ll lose 8-10 pounds a month or more. And if you follow any of those diets faithfully, you probably will. But how much of that weight loss is actually fat loss? Probably no more than 25%. The rest is water and muscle tissue, which is the last thing you want to be losing. In fact, the faster you are losing weight, the smaller the percentage of actual fat loss is likely to be. And the harder it will be to sustain that weight loss over time.

I think the reason that a majority of dieters regain the weight that they’ve lost is that they lose weight too quickly. Instead of trying to lose 1-2 pounds a week, we should aim to lose 1-2 pounds a month. When we lose weight slowly, we preserve more muscle tissue and keep our metabolism from slowing down. We also are more likely to develop long-term habits and behaviors that will support long-term success. We avoid the yo-yo dieting cycle that sabotages both our health and our self-esteem.

Of course, when you’re losing weight very slowly, it’s hard to see the results on the scale, especially because your weight can fluctuate by several pounds from day to day without reflecting actual fat loss or gain. That’s why I recommend tracking your weight using a moving average, as described in my episode on Weight Fluctuation (#199).

How to Lose Two Pounds a Month

So, what would it take to lose 1 to 2 pounds a month? The good news is that it doesn’t require anything nearly as drastic or unpleasant as it takes to lose 2 pounds a week! Small changes in your daily routine will do the trick. You just need to be consistent and patient.

Here are some of my favorite slow weight loss strategies:

  • Avoid eating in front of the television or computer.
  • Cut back on alcoholic beverages
  • Eat more vegetables and fewer starches.
  • Use smaller dinner plates
  • Decide what you’re going to eat ahead of time
  • Drink water or tea instead of sweetened or artificially sweetened beverages
  • After losing some weight, take a break before losing any more.

You don’t need to do all of these at once. Start with a couple that seem easy and one that seems like a bit more of a challenge. Add more as you get the hang of it.

Don’t think of it as dieting. Think of it as right-sizing. And, please, let me know how it’s going.

This article was originally published at