Archive for April 23rd, 2009

REDUCING CHOLESTEROL: FACTS ABOUT CANOLA OIL

April 23rd, 2009

Canola was originally developed from the rape seed. It was modified by selective breeding because rapeseed oil was too high in a toxic fatty acid called erucic acid. Canadian plant breeders came up with a variety of rapeseed that is much lower in erucic acid, yet high in beneficial monounsaturated fat and omega 3 fat. Only olive oil contains more monounsaturated fat than canola oil. Canola oil also contains approximately ten percent of the omega 3 fat alpha-linolenic acid. The new modified canola oil was originally called LEAR oil; this stands for Low Erucic Acid Rapeseed. Both “LEAR” and “rape” don’t have pleasant connotations, so a cleaver marketing guru came up with the name canola in 1978, alluding to Canadian oil.

Canola oil is now widely available as a cooking oil, in margarines, and is present in a great number of processed foods. Olive oil is a much healthier choice, but it is too expensive for the food industry to use in processed foods. Also, the fact that olive oil goes cloudy in cold temperatures makes it unappealing to the eye when used in some foods.

The majority of canola oil on the market is heavily processed. It goes through a process of refining, bleaching and degumming. This exposes the oil to oxygen, light, high temperatures and chemical solvents. Canola oil is fairly high in omega 3 fats, and these are most sensitive to processing, and likely to become damaged and form trans fatty acids. Therefore, canola oil can be higher in trans fats than other liquid vegetable oils. You are better off getting omega 3 fats from whole foods like fish, walnuts, flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds; all of which are also rich in antioxidants. Another problem with canola oil is that a great deal of it is genetically modified. There are several new varieties, such as Roundup Ready Canola, which is more tolerant to some herbicides and insecticides. Genetically modified canola has been approved for use in Australia. If you do use vegetable oil in cooking, it is best to stick to extra virgin olive oil or virgin coconut fat.

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MAXIMIZING FERTILITY: DIET IMPROVEMENT

April 23rd, 2009

 

Essential fatty acid supplements

Most of us don’t eat enough essential fats, so when you are trying to maximize your fertility it’s a good idea to add them to your diet in supplement form. Research has shown the benefits of supplementing with essential fatty acids during pregnancy to avoid low birth weight and also the advantages to the growing baby in terms of brain development’.

Choosing and using oils

Oils can easily get damaged so you need to take care when choosing, storing and using them. If oils are over-heated, left in sunlight or re-used after cooking, they are open to attack by free radicals (which have been linked to cancer, coronary heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis and premature ageing).

To avoid the formation of free radicals, always choose cold-pressed unrefined nut or seed oils or extra-virgin olive oil. A number of supermarkets now have organic oils. Unfortunately, non-organic standard supermarket oils are manufactured and extracted using chemicals and heat. This destroys the quality of the oil and its nutritional content. Store your oil away from sunlight and do not be tempted to re-use it after cooking.

Do not fry polyunsaturated fats, as they can become oxidized when heated. Use olive oil or butter for frying. Monounsaturated olive oil is less likely to create free radicals and butter will not because it is a saturated fat. Reduce the cooking temperature to minimize oxidation. Keep all fats to a minimum when frying. Try to bake or grill instead.

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ACCIDENTS IN THE HOME: FIRE

April 23rd, 2009

Despite all the warnings and public service announcements, fires and burns continue to be a leading cause of unintentional-injury deaths in U.S. homes. According to the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA), fires currently cause about 4,700 deaths a year-nearly 4,000 (80 percent) of which are in the home. “Too often people mistakenly think that home fires are something that happens to someone else,” says Susan McKelvey of the NFPA.

Maybe it’s all those years spent playing fireman, but men in particular have a tendency to overestimate their fire safety knowledge, says McKelvey.

“Our most recent survey shows that though 63 percent of men said they felt confident about fire safety, twice as many men as women die in fires,” McKelvey says. “The first and foremost rule when it comes to fire is, don’t be a hero. Get out of the house and stay out.” Even better, prevent fires in the first place. Here is what the NFPA recommends.

Carry a spoon. The largest cause of home fires in the United States is cooking, says McKelvey. “You’re cooking. The phone rings. You leave the kitchen and forget all about your cooking. Next thing you know you smell smoke and return to find a fire. This type of scenario happens quite frequently,” she says. Never leave cooking unattended, but if you need to leave the kitchen, carry a kitchen spoon or spatula with you to remind you that something’s on the stove or in the oven, McKelvey suggests.

Keep a mitt on hand. Here’s a simple but highly effective fire-prevention tactic. Keep an oven mitt that covers your arm by the stove along with a pot lid that fits the pan you are cooking with. That way, if those sweet potato fries go up in flames, you can quickly slide a mitt on your hand and a lid over that fire, says McKelvey. Then turn off the stove and let the pan cool completely. Don’t lift the lid or you might re-ignite the flame, she says.

Flush that cigar. The kitchen may be the biggest hot spot in the house, but according to the NFPA, fires caused by careless smoking kill more than 800 people a year. The classic no-no, of course, is smoking in bed. You know not to do that. What you need to watch is how you dispose of cigarettes and cigars. “Too often, people think that their smoking materials are extinguished, they throw them out, and the hot butts smolder for hours, eventually causing a fire in the middle of the night,” McKelvey says. “The best practice is dousing cigarette butts thoroughly before discarding them by flushing ashtray contents down the toilet. Be especially aware of how your guests dispose of cigar and cigarette butts, particularly at parties where people are often drinking and not paying close attention.”

Separate flammables. A simple reminder: Keep all combustible materials such as paint thinners and oils in sealed metal containers away from heat sources, says McKelvey. “Garages and basements are potential fire hazards.”

Hang those detectors. Finally, install at least one smoke detector on every level of your home and in or near every sleeping area, McKelvey says. “Test them once a month and replace the battery annually. Having smoke detectors in your home cuts your chance of dying in a fire nearly in half,” she says. And to make sure that you remember to change the batteries in those babies every year, tie the battery-changing to an annual event, such as your birthday, or when you set the clocks forward or back in the spring or fall.

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