The Best Cooked Vegetable for Your Health

Do you ever wonder what impact cooking has on the nutrients in your food? After all, if your take the time to make a home-cooked meal, you’ll want to get all the health benefits you can. Here’s some health news that you’ll want to consider before you make that next meal: some cooking methods are more nutrient-friendly than others, according to Spanish researchers. Continue reading

The Time of Death of a Carrot

When do carrots die? Apparently not in the way most of us thought. Carrots don’t die when you pull them out of the ground, but in fact only die when ingested in the stomach, cooked to 60c in hot water or left out to rot. This startling discovery has serious consequences not only for vegetarians, but also for everyone who is concerned about their health. In the light of the raw milk scandal, it takes on an even greater significance.

In his ground breaking new book, Blinded by Science, www.blindedbyscience.co.uk author Matthew Silverstone provides impressive scientific evidence that supports these ideas and uncovers new information that shows many other unknown aspects of plants will completely alter the way Continue reading

This Survival Skill and Technique is Delicious

The survival skills and survival techniques used by our fore fathers during the ‘Great Depression” will serve us well today. They had very little money so they survived by making the most of what was available. They planted a garden. They canned vegetables, fruit and meat. They baked bread….

What was common knowledge in those days has been largely lost in this modern world of fast food and the abundance of food available to us in the modern grocery stores. Sadly times are changing. Unemployment is rampant and everything is getting more and more expensive.

It is time to learn how to survive 2011 by re-learning the skills that were common knowledge back in the 1930’s. Continue reading

Easy At-Home Remedies for Your Digestive Problems

Picture this: A hot, heavy bowl of chili on a harsh winter’s day. Or this: A two-scoop cone of ice cream melting in the summer’s sun.

Do those images evoke desire or dread? Or both?

The truth is, it’s hard to enjoy a hearty dinner or a sweet treat when you’re worried about the discomfort or pain that may follow. There are a number of different problems that can affect the digestive system.

Three of the most common problems are heartburn/gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD; irritable bowel syndrome; and inflammatory bowel disease — all of which cause millions of Americans to suffer every day. However, by following a few simple rules, it is possible to reduce or even eliminate some of the symptoms that accompany one of life’s greatest joys – food.

Heartburn/GERD

Heartburn is a burning discomfort from the chest up to the throat that affects about one in every 10 Americans. One of the causes of heartburn is acid reflux, which is when stomach acid flows up through the lower esophageal sphincter and irritates the esophagus.

To prevent the burn, here are a few tips you can try:

1. Eat smaller portions of food

No matter what the food is, too much at once can put you in danger of a flare up. Also, try to eat food slower. Grabbing your meals on the go and wolfing them down leads to poor digestion and a greater risk of GERD symptoms.

2. Baking, broiling, grilling or roasting are all better alternatives than frying.

Also, make sure to cut off the fatty parts if you can. Foods that are high in fat sit in the stomach longer, which can cause discomfort.

3. In some cases, it’s best to just avoid certain foods altogether.

If you’re a frequent heartburn sufferer, spicy foods or foods that are highly acidic are probably not for you, especially on an empty stomach. Particularly acidic foods include tomatoes, citrus fruits and vinegar. If you’re really craving one of these foods, include a decent amount of other, less acidic foods like meat or vegetables as part of your meal.

4. Drinks can cause bloating and irritation too.

Stay away from caffeine and carbonation, as well as excess alcohol.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a disorder characterized by abdominal pain, cramping and changes in bowel movements. Symptoms can range from mild to severe but are present for at least six months. They will often occur after meals, come and go, and be reduced or eliminated after a bowel movement. Sometimes, people with IBS will also suffer from diarrhea or constipation.

Normally, lifestyle changes are the most effective ways to cope with IBS. Here are a few of the more effective changes you can make:

1. As with heartburn, avoid large meals and eating too fast.

Foods that tend to aggravate IBS include wheat, rye, barley, beans, cabbage, some fruits, chocolate, alcohol, milk and caffeinated beverages.

2. Add more fiber to your diet.

Fiber helps regulate diarrhea and constipation. Soluble fiber, in particular, can be very effective. Foods high in soluble fiber include apples, beans and citrus fruits. Don’t try to cheat with fiber supplements – these can actually make symptoms worse.

3. Try to de-stress, in whatever way possible.

Anxiety has been linked with IBS. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep at night, and if possible, try to clear a little time in your day to relax and enjoy yourself. Some people claim that therapy can help with IBS symptoms.

4. Exercise.

Studies show that people who weigh less and are more physically fit report less abdominal pain than those who are heavier. Also, for a lot of people, exercise is a great way to reduce stress.

5. Are you lactose intolerant?

If milk and other dairy products bother you, you may have lactose intolerance. This means that your body is unable to digest the sugar in milk. If you suspect you are lactose intolerant, limit the amount of dairy products in your diet, and talk to your doctor.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic condition that causes inflammation in the intestines. The intestinal walls swell and occasionally develop ulcers, which can lead to discomfort and serious digestive problems. There are different types of IBD, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Symptoms include abdominal pain, cramping, diarrhea, bloody stools and weight loss.

IBD is more serious than IBS and should be treated by a doctor. There is a high risk of complications, such as obstruction, abscesses or fistulas, which all may require surgery. Also, people who have had IBD for at least eight years have a greater likelihood of developing colon cancer.

Beyond any medications or treatments your doctor prescribes, here are at-home tips to alleviate symptoms of IBD:

1. Be aware of trigger foods.

IBD symptoms can be triggered by a wide range of foods including: alcohol, coffee, soda, spicy foods, beans, fatty foods, high-fiber foods, nuts and seeds, raw fruits and vegetables, red meat, and dairy products. Low-residue diets (which eliminate nuts, seeds, raw fruits, and raw vegetables) can alleviate pain associated with Crohn’s disease.

2. Eat a well-balanced diet with smaller meals distributed more frequently across the day.

People with IBD can have trouble absorbing nutrients from foods. Couple that with a poor appetite due to abdominal pain, and you may be at risk of malnutrition. Smaller, healthier meals help the body absorb more nutrients. You doctor may also suggest vitamin and mineral supplements. Make sure to drink lots of water to avoid dehydration.

3. Engage in light exercise.

Activities like yoga, tai chi, or walking are recommended for people suffering from IBD. These activities can aid digestion and reduce stress, which eases abdominal pain. More strenuous exercises, however, can jar the body and make symptoms worse.

4. Look out for other symptoms.

Not all symptoms of IBD occur inside the digestive tract. Consult your doctor if you experience mouth sores, arthritis or vision problems.

Remember, these tips aren’t “one size fits all.” It’s a good idea to keep a log of what you eat and when it upsets you. Eventually, you should see a pattern that will indicate which foods and drinks you should avoid. Also, make note whenever you find something that alleviates your symptoms. This could be your first line of defense against abdominal pain.

The Truth About the Composition of Different Fats – Oils We Eat

Composition of Different Fats – Oils We Eat

Here we examine the composition of vegetable oils and other animal fats in order to determine their usefulness and appropriateness in food preparation:

Duck and Goose Fat are semisolid at room temperature, containing about 35% saturated fat, 52% monounsaturated fat (including small amounts of antimicrobial palmitoleic acid) and about 13% polyunsaturated fat. The proportion of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids depends on what the birds have eaten. Duck and goose fat are quite stable and are highly prized in Europe for frying potatoes.

Chicken Fat is about 31% saturated, 49% monounsaturated (including moderate amounts of antimicrobial palmitoleic acid) and 20% polyunsaturated, most of which is omega-6 linoleic acid, although the amount of omega-3 can be raised by feeding chickens flax or fish meal, or allowing them to range free and eat insects. Although widely used for frying in kosher kitchens, it is inferior to duck and goose fat, which were traditionally preferred to chicken fat in Jewish cooking.

Lard or pork fat is about 40% saturated, 48% monounsaturated (including small amounts of antimicrobial palmitoleic acid) and 12% polyunsaturated. Like the fat of birds, the amount of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids will vary in lard according to what has been fed to the pigs. In the tropics, lard may also be a source of lauric acid if the pigs have eaten coconuts. Like duck and goose fat, lard is stable and a preferred fat for frying. It was widely used in America at the turn of the century.

It is a good source of vitamin D, especially in third-world countries where other animal foods are likely to be expensive. Some researchers believe that pork products should be avoided because they may contribute to cancer. Others suggest that only pork meat presents a problem and that pig fat in the form of lard is safe and healthy.

Beef and Mutton Tallows are 50-55% saturated, about 40% monounsaturated and contain small amounts of the polyunsaturates, usually less than 3%. Suet, which is the fat from the cavity of the animal, is 70-80% saturated. Suet and tallow are very stable fats and can be used for frying. Traditional cultures valued these fats for their health benefits. They are a good source of antimicrobial palmitoleic acid.

Olive Oil contains 75% oleic acid, the stable monounsaturated fat, along with 13% saturated fat, 10% omega-6 linoleic acid and 2% omega-3 linolenic acid. The high percentage of oleic acid makes olive oil ideal for salads and for cooking at moderate temperatures. Extra virgin olive oil is also rich in antioxidants. It should be cloudy, indicating that it has not been filtered, and have a golden yellow color, indicating that it is made from fully ripened olives.

Olive oil has withstood the test of time; it is the safest vegetable oil you can use, but don’t overdo. The longer chain fatty acids found in olive oil are more likely to contribute to the buildup of body fat than the short- and medium-chain fatty acids found in butter, coconut oil or palm kernel oil.

Peanut Oil contains 48% oleic acid, 18% saturated fat and 34% omega-6 linoleic acid. Like olive oil, peanut oil is relatively stable and, therefore, appropriate for stir-frys on occasion. But the high percentage of omega-6 presents a potential danger, so use of peanut oil should be strictly limited.

Sesame Oil contains 42% oleic acid, 15% saturated fat, and 43% omega-6 linoleic acid. Sesame oil is similar in composition to peanut oil. It can be used for frying because it contains unique antioxidants that are not destroyed by heat. However, the high percentage of omega-6 militates against exclusive use.

Safflower, Corn, Sunflower, Soybean and Cottonseed Oils all contain over 50% omega-6 and, except for soybean oil, only minimal amounts of omega-3. Safflower oil contains almost 80% omega-6. Researchers are just beginning to discover the dangers of excess omega-6 oils in the diet, whether rancid or not.

Use of these oils should be strictly limited. They should never be consumed after they have been heated, as in cooking, frying or baking. High oleic safflower and sunflower oils, produced from hybrid plants, have a composition similar to olive oil, namely, high amounts of oleic acid and only small amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids and, thus, are more stable than traditional varieties. However, it is difficult to find truly cold-pressed versions of these oils.

Canola Oil contains 5% saturated fat, 57% oleic acid, 23% omega-6 and 10%-15% omega-3. The newest oil on the market, canola oil was developed from the rape seed, a member of the mustard family. Rape seed is unsuited to human consumption because it contains a very-long-chain fatty acid called erucic acid, which under some circumstances is associated with fibrotic heart lesions.

Canola oil was bred to contain little if any erucic acid and has drawn the attention of nutritionists because of its high oleic acid content. But there are some indications that canola oil presents dangers of its own. It has a high sulphur content and goes rancid easily. Baked goods made with canola oil develop mold very quickly. During the deodorizing process, the omega-3 fatty acids of processed canola oil are transformed into trans fatty acids, similar to those in margarine and possibly more dangerous.

A recent study indicates that “heart healthy” canola oil actually creates a deficiency of vitamin E, a vitamin required for a healthy cardiovascular system. Other studies indicate that even low-erucic-acid canola oil causes heart lesions, particularly when the diet is low in saturated fat.

Flax Seed Oil contains 9% saturated fatty acids, 18% oleic acid, 16% omega-6 and 57% omega-3. With its extremely high omega-3 content, flax seed oil provides a remedy for the omega-6/omega-3 imbalance so prevalent in America today. Not surprisingly, Scandinavian folk lore values flax seed oil as a health food. New extraction and bottling methods have minimized rancidity problems. It should always be kept refrigerated, never heated, and consumed in small amounts in salad dressings and spreads.

Tropical Oils are more saturated than other vegetable oils. Palm oil is about 50% saturated, with 41% oleic acid and about 9% linoleic acid. Coconut oil is 92% saturated with over two-thirds of the saturated fat in the form of medium-chain fatty acids (often called medium-chain triglycerides).

Of particular interest is lauric acid, found in large quantities in both coconut oil and in mother’s milk. This fatty acid has strong antifungal and antimicrobial properties. Coconut oil protects tropical populations from bacteria and fungus so prevalent in their food supply; as third-world nations in tropical areas have switched to polyunsaturated vegetable oils, the incidence of intestinal disorders and immune deficiency diseases has increased dramatically.

Because coconut oil contains lauric acid, it is often used in baby formulas. Palm kernel oil, used primarily in candy coatings, also contains high levels of lauric acid. These oils are extremely stable and can be kept at room temperature for many months without becoming rancid. Highly saturated tropical oils do not contribute to heart disease but have nourished healthy populations for millennia. It is a shame we do not use these oils for cooking and baking—the bad rap they have received is the result of intense lobbying by the domestic vegetable oil industry.

Red palm oil has a strong taste that most will find disagreeable—although it is used extensively throughout Africa—but clarified palm oil, which is tasteless and white in color, was formerly used as shortening and in the production of commercial French fries, while coconut oil was used in cookies, crackers and pastries. The saturated fat scare has forced manufacturers to abandon these safe and healthy oils in favor of hydrogenated soybean, corn, canola and cottonseed oils.

In summary, our choice of fats and oils is one of extreme importance. Most people, especially infants and growing children, benefit from more fat in the diet rather than less. But the fats we eat must be chosen with care.

Avoid all processed foods containing newfangled hydrogenated fats and polyunsaturated oils.

Instead, use traditional vegetable oils like extra virgin olive oil and small amounts of unrefined flax seed oil. Acquaint yourself with the merits of coconut oil for baking and with animal fats for occasional frying.

Eat egg yolks and other animal fats with the proteins to which they are attached. And, finally, use as much good quality butter as you like, with the happy assurance that it is a wholesome—indeed, an essential—food for you and your whole family.

Organic butter, extra virgin olive oil, and expeller-expressed flax oil in opaque containers are available in health food stores and gourmet markets.