Dear Mark: Air-Frying, “Primal” Vegan-ish, Perfect Heath Diet, and Bad Rep or Rap

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering four questions. First, is air-frying gentler than deep-frying? Does it produce less acrylamide? Second, what do I think of a reader’s Primal-style plant-based way of eating? It’s actually quite good. Third, why didn’t I mention the Perfect Health Diet in last week’s post on top trending diets? And last, did I make a typo or grammatical error when I wrote “bad rap”?

Let’s find out:

Russian squat thing is great.

Anyone know if air frying potatoes creates acrylamide to the same degree normal deep frying does?

Wasn’t it? It’ll obviously never happen around here, and it would raise all sorts of civil rights issues if adopted across the board, but man would it be effective.

Turns out that air-frying is way more gentle on potatoes than deep-frying. Compared to deep-frying, air-frying potatoes reduced acrylamide formation by 90%.

And if you “pre-treated” the potatoes with a solution of nicotinic acid, citric acid, glycine, and salt, you’d get a further reduction of 80-90%.

I don’t know. The initial 90% sounds good enough that I’d hold off on that strange pre-treatment. In fact, I bet you could get a decent approximation of the benefits with a simple marinade on the potatoes. Maybe lemon juice and thyme?

Great round up Mark!

I’m just wondering what you think of a very ‘primal’ 95% vegan like diet?

I have Chron’s disease, but despite the data showing a carnivorous diet helps IBD I have found through a lot of trial and error I cannot handle cooked muscle or organ meat of any kind without a lot of pain.

I eat a vast variety of gently cooked vegetables, massaged salads, cooked and cooled legumes (also potatoes) Seaweed, some cooked and cooled buckwheat & rice, plus the occasional raw dozen oysters or fresh sashimi (Around once a week, expensive & I find it feels like enough). I only use olive oil (I have a Mediterranean background and find I tolerate it better than Butter or coconut oil)

I feel best on this, but wouldn’t really quantify it as any of the above diets.

Anything you think I could be missing out on eating this way? I’m a slim female with a high glucose tolerance if that helps.

Cheers Sophie

That’s a solid way to vegan. It’s quite close to what I recommend plant-based dieters do. You’re eating real food. You’re eating actual plants, not plant-based junk food. You’re avoiding seed oils. You’re eating oysters and raw fish—that’s huge. You’re treating your legumes right, and you don’t appear to be overly reliant on grains. Rice is one of the more innocuous grains, and buckwheat is actually a pseudo-cereal (and quite a nutrient-dense one at that).

A few suggestions:

Supplement creatine. It’s only found in red meat and fish, and most vegans are deficient. Correcting the deficiency tends to improve cognitive function. Since you eat fish once a week, you won’t be quite as deficient as others, but it’s still a good idea (and really inexpensive) to take 5 grams a day. Here’s a good creatine supplement.

Supplement carnosine and taurine. These are two other nutrients found primarily/only in animal foods. They act as antioxidants in the brain and play big roles in health and disease. Here’s a good carnosine supplement. Here’s a good taurine supplement.

Eat some raw egg yolks. I love a handful of raw egg yolks. One of my favorite ways to get choline, a true nootropic. It’s a decent, gentle source of uncooked high quality animal protein, too, which you can probably use.

How could you not mention the Perfect Health Diet?

The Perfect Health Diet is a great way to eat. Back in 2012, I even wrote the foreword to The Perfect Health Diet book. The problem is that it doesn’t qualify as a “popular diet trend.” It should be. I’d love for Dr. Oz to plug the PHD, for Oprah to include it in her book club. The world would be a much healthier place. But that’s not where we are.

The article was designed to inform newcomers to the diet scene while still providing enough meat for the more advanced readers. There just aren’t all that many newcomers looking for info on the Perfect Health Diet.

Speaking of which, if you guys have noticed a dearth of activity on Paul Jaminet’s part, it’s for good reason: He and his wife have been developing a new cancer drug that, according to his preliminary animal research, looks to be effective against every tumor they tested. Even the really malignant ones. Phase 1 human trials are set to begin in 2020. I really, really hope it all works out.

Typo heads-up…
You said: “Atkins gets a bad rap”. It should be Atkins gets a bad “rep”. The correct word (rep) is short for reputation. Thought you might like to know. Loved the post though!

Thanks for the tip!

I actually intended to use “rap,” though, in the sense of “criticism.” Think of the “rap sheet,” a list of a person’s crimes or offenses. Or “rap” as in “sharp blow,” sort of a physical manifestation of criticism or reprimand.

That’s it for today, folks. Thanks for reading and be sure to comment down below if you have any input or additional questions.


Sansano M, Juan-borrás M, Escriche I, Andrés A, Heredia A. Effect of pretreatments and air-frying, a novel technology, on acrylamide generation in fried potatoes. J Food Sci. 2015;80(5):T1120-8.

Antioxidant activity of carnosine, homocarnosine, and anserine present in muscle and brain. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 1988;85(9):3175.

Yamori Y, Taguchi T, Hamada A, Kunimasa K, Mori H, Mori M. Taurine in health and diseases: consistent evidence from experimental and epidemiological studies. J Biomed Sci. 2010;17 Suppl 1:S6.

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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