Tag Archives: cholesterol

THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF COCONUT OIL

weight, Rebecca Lazar - THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF COCONUT OILCoconut oil has gotten a bad rep over the years because it has a high amount of saturated fat, and, if you know anything about fats, you know that saturated fats are not good for you, especially if you have high cholesterol or heart disease.  Unfortunately, this reputation is completely unfair since REAL coconut oil (unprocessed and organic) is extremely healthy, can actually lower cholesterol, and even helps you lose weight.

What makes coconut oil so great? Get ready for a little science, and try not to fall asleep, this is actually interesting! sleepy Whether unsaturated (think olive oil) or saturated (butter, animal fats), the majority of fats and oils in our diet are composed of long chain fatty acids.  Coconut oil is a different type of saturated fatty acid – it has mainly medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA) and the effects of MCFA are different from the long chain fatty acids (LCFA) found in other foods. In fact, the saturated and unsaturated fat in milk, eggs, meat and even in plants and most vegetable oils are made of LCFA. This is important because our bodies respond and metabolize each fatty acid differently.  When it comes to MCFA, the liver and gall bladder do not need to digest and emulsify it; this results in instant energy, increased metabolic rate and subsequently more heat production as well as increased circulation. By the way, anyone with an impaired fat digestion or a removed gallbladder will benefit from coconut oil since it’s easily digested.  There are only few dietary sources of MCFA, and one of the best sources by far is coconut oil.

Coconut oil has many health benefits which are attributed to the presence of lauric acid. When it is present in the body, lauric acid is converted into monolaurin, a compound that is highly toxic to viruses, bacteria, funguses and other microorganisms because of its ability to disrupt their lipid membranes and virtually destroy them.  Without lauric acid, monolaurin cannot be produced by the body. Interestingly enough, breast milk is the only other source of lauric acid, which must explain the lesser incidents of infections with breast-fed infants. Regular consumption of coconut oil actually boosts immunity and reduces incidences of sickness.

Medium-chain fatty acids found in coconut oil can also be helpful for weight loss by its ability to speed up metabolism faster than long-chain fatty acids because they are easily digested and converted into energy. In fact, a study reported medium-chain fatty acids to be three times more effective in raising metabolism than long-chain fatty acids.  If that isn’t enough to make you eat spoonfuls of coconut oil right out of the container sick , I don’t know what is.

So how much do you need to consume for all these awesome health benefits? Well, that depends who you ask.  The common theory is 1 tablespoon, 3 times a day, but I usually just suggest to incorporate it into your cooking – did I mention you can stir-fry and bake with coconut oil with fantastic results and without destroying its health benefits like some other oils? – well, now I just did.

Hmmm, all of this talk about coconut has given me a craving for coconut ice cream by So Delicious, so I’m gonna head to my freezer for this high-fiber, MCFA-rich dessert! winking

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NUTS ABOUT NUTS!

weight, Rebecca Lazar - NUTS ABOUT NUTS!If you’re afraid to eat nuts because they are high in calories and you are convinced they will make you gain weight, know that the type of fats nuts contain are GOOD for you and studies have shown nuts actually help DECREASE excess body fat when eaten as part of a healthy diet. Nuts are best eaten raw, but dry roasted nuts have benefits as well including ease of digestibility.  If you are allergic to one or more nuts, you should avoid them completely, though some poeple (including myself) have a mild tree nut allergy where raw tree nuts cause a histamine response, while roasted ones do not.

Nuts are excellent sources of minerals, proteins, monounsaturated fats and other nutrients.  Eating just 1.5 ounces a day may reduce the risk of age related degeneration of cognitive skills, motor abilities, heart disease and risk for some cancers.  The omega-3 fatty acids found in nuts can alter the effect of chronic stress on the body by reducing the production of several pro-inflammatory biochemicals in the body which lead to age-related disease.

Nuts are best purchased and stored in their shells, which naturally protect against fee radical damage caused by light and air.  Do not eat or use moldy nuts; if it smells or looks even remotely moldy, it is RANCID.  If you buy shelled nuts, store them in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.  Crushed nuts, slivered nuts and nut pieces are often rancid, so it’s best to prepare your own from whole nuts.  Here are the health benefits (and some drawbacks) for the most common types of nuts:

ALMONDS

By far my favorite nut, almonds are a great source of calcium, magnesium, Vitamin E and selenium.  They are also the most alkaline of the nuts – typical American/Canadian diets are way too acidic, and acidity is a breeding ground for disease, so consuming more alkaline foods is always helpful.  Almonds also help support colon health and reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol.

BRAZIL NUTS

High in selenium, brazil nuts reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer and also play a role in reducing allergies and inflammation.  That being said, due to it’s high selenium content, it’s best to have no more than 1-2 serving twice per week.  As well, it is high in oxalates, so if you have a history of oxalate-containing kidney stones, it’s best to limit consumption.

WALNUTS

Walnuts are full of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, contain ellagic acid known to fight cancer and support the immune system and have anti-inflammatory properties important for controlling asthma, arthritis, eczema and psoriasis.

CASHEWS

A good source of minerals and lower in fact than most nuts.  The fat they contain is the heart-healthy oleic acid.

PECANS

Known to reduce cholesterol, pecans are also an excellent source of 19 vitamins and minerals.  Pecans were the nuts used in the studies on weight and body mass index.  Subjects consumed about 3.5 oz. of pecans per day (459 calories and 44 gr of fat), yet their body mas index and weight remained unchanged.

MACADAMIA NUTS

Highest in monounsaturated fats and high in portein, fiber, potassium and magnesium, macadamia nuts also lower triglyceride levels.  Macadamia nut oil is also stable at much higher temperatures than olive oil or canola oil.

PEANUTS

Peanuts, as most people know, is actually not a nut at all, but rather a legume.  Another well-known fact is that peanuts are a highly allergenic food.   This may or may not be due to the overwhelming amount of aflatoxins, a poison produced by the Aspergillus flavus fungus,  which grows well on peanuts.  A known carcinogen, it is 20 times more noxious than DDT.  Peanut also contain large amounts of oxalates (see brazil nuts above)……Although peanuts do have similar health benefits as other nuts, in my practice I generally recommend to limit or avoid their consumption.  Commercially prepared peanut butter should be completely avoided since they use hydrogenated stabilizing oils which are hazardous to the cardiovascular system.

PINE NUTS

Pine nuts are high in magnesium and potassium, two minerals whose combined effects product a strong, healthy heartbeat, lowered blood pressure and improved blood flow.

PISTACHIOS

In addition to lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol and raising HDL (good) cholesterol, pistachios contain a compound with anti inflammatory effects.  Another study demonstrated pistachios as effective against jaundice.  Individuals who are allergic to mango and cashews should avoid pistachios as well, since they are from the same family.  Do not consume pistachios with red dye.

Now that you know how great nuts can be for you, toss some nuts on your next salad, in your next cup of organic yogurt or use them in your baked goods.  Enjoy! happy

Source: The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods, by Michael Murray N.D.

 

 

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