Team Intro: Karen Stark

Hello everyone!

I am the resident Nutrition Scientist here at Cronometer. I have a Master's degree in Nutrition and spent my time in a research lab studying folate, choline, vitamin B12 and fats. When I wasn't behind the lab bench, I assisted teaching nutrition classes on a variety of topics. I am here to help identify the foods with the best nutrient profiles to use in your food diaries. I also review new foods you have submitted and enter them into our food database.

Are you curious why there are no omega-3s listed in your flax seeds? Wondering where the trans fats in oil come from? Have another nutrition question? Lettuce taco 'bout it! If you can't find the food you are looking for, I will get to the root of the problem. With my six years of research and teaching experience I am here to bring you all the science-y details hidden in the nutrients in your food.

When I'm not fact-checking nutrition labels, you can find me trying new recipes in the kitchen, making terrible puns, or outside exploring the mountains.

Karen Stark
As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:

Karen Stark
As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:


  • Hello Karen, Great job! I love using chronometer. I have some questions about creating new foods, so I will be posting under New Discussions. See you there;-)

  • edited September 2017

    Hello Karen,
    I love your database and the option to design one's own foods :smiley:
    YeZ! Lettuce taco 'bout it! Where does the trans fat in the flax seed oil come from, please? I recognized that right away and had no clue there was trans in ...
    Pleeeease, pretty please :blush: ?!?!?!!???

  • I'm glad you asked!

    Trans fats can be found in plant foods in very small amounts, either naturally occurring or through heat processing when making the oil.

    Even with cold-pressed oils, some manufacturers may steam treat the oil, and the heat produces small amounts of trans fats. In other cases, manufacturing processes allow refined oils to be blended with the cold-pressed oils, thus adding some trans fats to the cold-pressed oils. Finally, if the seeds are dried before they are cold-pressed, this has been shown to increase the formation of trans fatty acids. The sensitivity of the methods used to measure the fats and oils in foods can detect these trace amounts of trans fatty acids.

    Though, it is important to note that trans fatty acids have not been shown conclusively to have a negative impact on health. Particularly, naturally-occurring trans fatty acids are not detrimental to health.

    Karen Stark
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:

  • Yes, Karen, I'm wondering why no Omega 3's are listed in nutrition data on Ground Flax package. Front of package says clearly that RICH IN OMEGA 3.
    Thanks, Glenn

  • @GlennTB This can be case with packaged or brand name products because manufacturers often provide the minimum nutrition information required on the label, and omega-3 content is not required on the label.

    Your best bet is to search for a whole food product in the Cronometer database (not a brand name product) to get the most nutrient information.

    Karen Stark
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:

  • Thanks for your work Karen!

  • Thanks very much Karen. That helps a lot.

  • @Karen_Cronometer
    Thank you Karen! Very interesting!

  • Hey Karen that's great. I will look forward to finding out more.

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  • Hi Karen,

    I seem to consistently not get enough choline in my diet. Which foods or supplements would help me increase choline in my diet? I’m a vegetarian.

    Many thanks for any insights you may be able to offer.

  • Hello @Sudevi

    We do make choline endogenously, but not enough to meet our needs, so we rely on getting additional choline in our diet to meet the AI of 550 mg/day for males and 425 mg/day for females.

    If you eat eggs, they are a very good source of choline. Other vegetarian sources include milk, peanuts, soybeans, wheat germ. I can't list sources of choline without mentioning that coffee provides choline too!

    Choline deficiency is rare in healthy populations. Choline is used to synthesize other compounds in our bodies, such as betaine, and the phospholipid called phosphatidylcholine (also called lecithin). Therefore, by consuming phosphatidylcholine or betaine we may reduce our requirement for choline.


    Karen Stark
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:

  • edited December 2017

    @Sudevi @Karen_Cronometer

    I have been wondering about choline a lot, too. My question is whether people with absorption (gut) issues and with neurological symptoms might need much more than the recommended dose?

    I don't drink coffee or anything else with caffeine, and I do it whole plant foods (no animal foods, whole foods preferred to processed). I don't eat soy nor gluten containing grains (nor much other grains), nor night shades ...

    Cronometer taught me that my kidney bean breakfast gives me (besides many other benefits) over 100 mg choline - as much as one tablet of the choline supplement I am taking which gets me to half the required choline.

    A package of Portabella mushrooms (454g) gives me another 150 mg ... greens such as spinach and broccoli gives a bit here and there, but for now, I am still taking the supplement to even get to the recommended dose and I know I do have absorption (gut) issues around the D3 and B vitamins, so I have to assume that choline uptake is affected, too.

    I would be very interested in a collection what the science says about D3/B-vitamin uptake and metabolism through the gut biota. It seems to me that's still like a white spot on the map, and I can't really find good scientific papers about it.

    It would be very helpful to learn more about the uptake and metabolism pathways and which bacteria needs which compound and their product which feeds again another group of bacteria ... etc.

    Happy healthy munching! <3


  • Love the Cronometer so much!

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