Moldy food not good meal choices

April 5, 2010 at midnight
Updated April 5, 2010 at 11:06 p.m.

Q: If there is a spot of mold on a slice of bread, is it safe to break off that spot and eat the bread?

A: I would strongly recommend not eating the bread. When mold grows on soft food, like bread, just removing the visible mold spot does not remove all of the spores. Mold actually consists of root threads that invade the food it lands on, with a stalk rising above the food and spores forming on the end of those stalks. The root threads can grow deep into the food and have poisonous substances around the threads.

If you ingest any part, on or around the mold spores, it could very likely cause gastrointestinal problems, such as diarrhea. If you spot mold on lunch meats, bacon, hot dogs, cottage cheese, cream cheese, yogurts, jams, jellies, peanut butter, leftovers, bread and soft produce, such as cucumbers peaches and tomatoes, I would recommend discarding the food to prevent a possible gastrointestinal event.

However, you can safely excise a moldy area from firm foods, such as hard cheese. If you do cut this moldy area out, be sure to include at least a -inch margin of safety all around the mold.

If there is mold on hard salami or dry-cured ham, the mold can be scrubbed away and the food safely eaten. Molds on firm fruit and vegetables, such as cabbage, bell peppers and carrots, can be cut away with one inch of surrounding flesh and safely eaten.

Q: My nonfat yogurt lists 5 milligrams of cholesterol. How can a food have cholesterol but no fat? Also, I do enjoy my beer, and if it does not contain any fat or cholesterol where do the calories come from?

A: It is possible for a food to have no fat and some cholesterol, but it is not very common. Foods that have no fat, including most grains, vegetables and fruits, generally do not contain cholesterol either. Nonfat yogurt and skim milk are among the few exceptions. Many more foods, especially those that contain vegetable oils, have fat, but no cholesterol. The reason is because cholesterol is found only in animal products, such as meat, eggs, milk and cheese. That is why it is no trick for a bag of potato chips or a tub of margarine to declare "no cholesterol."

As for your second question, the calories in beer come from alcohol, carbohydrates and a minuscule amount of protein.

Note: It is not too late to sign up for the monthly nutrition class, at 7 p.m. Monday, April 12, by calling 361-580-1400.

Phylis B. Canion is a doctor of naturopathic medicine and is a certified nutritional consultant, e-mail her at This column is for nutritional information only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure.



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