The word "Granola" has become almost synonymous with healthful nutrition. Granola is one of the sacred cows of the health food culture and industry.
But what is Granola, anyway?
Answer: Granola is carbohydrate cooked in fat.
According to Dr. Henry G. Bieler, physician to Anthony Quinn, Greta Garbo, Lucille Ball, and many other Hollywood celebrities, and author of the bestselling health food book Food Is Your Best Medicine, when carbohydrates are cooked in fat or oil, chemical reactions take place that produce indigestible molecules that the human digestive, endocrine, and eliminatory systems simply can’t handle. Consequently, these indigestible molecules build up in the body and cause various sorts of systemic toxemia.
The purest example of this principle is Olestra, a commercial fat substitute produced by heating together sugar (a carbohydrate) and vegetable oil (a fat) until a molecule is formed that is too large and ungainly-shaped to be absorbed by the human digestive system. Originally touted as a wonder additive to such high-fat foods as potato chips that would yield the same culinary sensation as oil but would add no calories to the diet, Olestra was soon found to have a number of undesirable side effects, including abdominal cramping and diarrhea. Furthermore, it readily absorbed fat-soluble vitamins from foods and simply flushed them out of the body before they could be assimilated. Another unwelcome side effect was steatorrhea, the accumulation of through-passing Olestra in the stool, which resulted in anal leakage. Yuck!
Dr. Bieler’s long list of offending foods containing carbohydrates cooked in fat, compiled before Granola and Olestra hit the market, includes donuts, French fries, potato chips, cookies, cake, and even bread that contains shortening. None of these has molecules as wholly indigestible as Olestra, and that in and of itself is a potential issue, as the molecules in such foods are partially digestible, passing through the intestinal lining but not being fully assimilated thereafter. It is, in Bieler’s opinion, these partially digestible, "weird" molecules that lodge themselves irremovably in our systems and thus accumulate over time that give rise to increasing systemic toxemia and consequent ill health, ranging from susceptibility to colds to cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Granola, with its high carbohydrate and oil content, would have been high on Bieler’s list had it been on the market at the time he published it.
But isn’t Granola made with "good," unrefined, monounsaturated oils, like olive and canola? Usually, yes, it is, but the fact is, that doesn’t matter! What does matter is that those "good" oils have been heated with carbohydrate until the qualities that make them good have been neutralized by the chemical reactions that take place during the cooking process!
So, what to do? My own solution, aside from avoiding Granola and most other products containing carbohydrates cooked in fat (or oil), is to enjoy those "good" oils in culinary concoctions that don’t involve cooking them with carbohydrate. Among my favorites is air-popped popcorn sprayed with olive oil from a garden spray bottle and seasoned to taste with sea salt. Warning: This concoction is fattening, so enjoy it in moderation!
Do I pontificate with authority? Well, at age seventy, having followed the Bieler diet with moderate faithfulness for 44 years, I seem to be doing pretty well. I just single-handed my 38-foot ketch from Florida to Maine last spring, I’m enjoying free geezer skiing at my local Maine ski area, and at my last physical exam, my doctor looked at me gravely and said, "I have bad news for your wife. She’s going to have to put up with you for a very long time to come!"
Mr. David Laing
David Bennett Laing (born 1940 in Hanover, New Hampshire) is the only child of the novelists and poets Dilys Bennett Laing and Alexander Laing. A native of Wales, Dilys was a prolific poet who published frequently in the New Yorker and other prominent magazines. She was an early feminist. Alex was mainly a writer of historical fiction and books on sailing ships. He taught English at Dartmouth College.
In his youth, David was strongly influenced by his Nature-loving mother and his druidic maternal grandmother. Although passionately interested in biology, he chose instead to major in geology at Dartmouth College because of his unwillingness to dissect animals, but his extensive readings in biology convinced him that Earth itself is, in many respects, a living being, a theme that has recently gained a respectable following in the young, cross-disciplinary fields of biogeology and geobiology.
After obtaining his master's degree from Harvard, David entered a variety of professions, from park ranger naturalist through forest ranger, preparatory school teacher, college professor, consulting geologist, and environmental educator to technical copy editor.
In addition to various journal and magazine articles, he has published two books, Aspen High Country: The Geology (Thunder River Press, 1980) and a college Earth science textbook The Earth System (Wm C Brown Publishers 1991). In 1977, he published Magic Mountain, a record album of original environmental songs (Folkways Records) and in 1980 a second album, Equilibrium, The National Audubon Society's Album of Songs of Nature and Humanity, with his daughter Robin, Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie (posthumously), and Tom Wisner (Folkways Records).
David is retired and living an active life with his wife Margaret on the Maine coast, where he indulges in Nature study, sailing, and skiing. A few years ago, David discovered that he has lived his somewhat unorthodox life under the influence of Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism which has no deleterious effects on intelligence or cognition, but that confers on those so blessed a view of the world that is virtually uninfluenced by social conventions and preconceptions. 'Aspies' have very poorly developed social skills, as a result of which they tend to view the world as it really is rather than as the weight of present and past authority decrees it to be. Readers of this work might benefit from understanding this particular foible of its author.