more people are allergic to cows milk than any other food
source : did you know
Allergies are usually a great sign of what sorts of foods should be avoided. Common allergies usually mean that our bodies are not well adapted to the food in question.
Tropical Blueberries Are Even Healthier Than US/Canadian Blueberries
blueberries that grow wild in Mexico, Central and South America … have even more healthful antioxidants than the blueberries — already renowned as “super fruits” — sold throughout the United States. These extreme super fruits could provide even more protection against heart disease, cancer and other conditions
Too bad you can’t buy ‘em here yet. I hope some good company starts importing them.
Green Tea, Theanine and stress reduction/calm
Theanine is a compound in tea that reduces stress, and produces calm (when angry etc. or stressed)
if you need to calm down fast, consider sipping a cup of green tea…Green tea contains theanine, which calms you and helps you maintain clear concentration and focus,” he says.
Got curious and had to read more on theanine
While structurally related to the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate, theanine only has weak affinity for the glutamate receptor on postsynaptic cells. Rather, its primary effect seems to increase the overall level of the brain inhibitory transmitter GABA.
L-Theanine may help the body’s immune response to infection by boosting the disease-fighting capacity of gamma delta T cells. The study, published in 2003 by the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, included a four-week trial with 11 coffee drinkers and 10 tea drinkers, who consumed 600 milliliters of coffee or black tea daily. Blood sample analysis found the production of antibacterial proteins was up to five times higher in the tea drinkers, an indicator of a stronger immune response.
I looked at the paper cited in the above article, and how theanine bound to the 3 types of glutamate receptors
Theanine bound the three receptors, but its IC50 of theanine was 80- to 30,000-fold less than that of L-glutamic acid.
A number of articles mention that theanine increases alpha waves in the brain, which is one measure of relaxation. This article adds
The antioxidant activity of L-theanine has been studied in regard to its effect on the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. In vitro testing using malondialdehyde as a marker of lipid peroxidation demonstrated inhibition of LDL oxidation with theanine, although the effect was weaker than the potent antioxidant effect of green tea polyphenols.
Green tea also contains caffeine. I’m somewhat against caffeine in general because it’s mechanism is purely drug-like and your body gets tolerant to any drug over time. A number of sources suggest that tolerance to theanine builds up, so it looks like it’s not something you can benefit from if you drink green tea every day, but there might be occasional benefits from infrequent use.
Red Palm Oil - getting a good source and health benefits
So I’ve bought this product before. This red palm oil is made is way that as I see it it would be hard for lots of nutrients to escape or toxins to enter. You can typically get it at Whole Foods.
There are a lot of claims of health benefits which is not surprising given the high levels I’ve seen for vitamins and anti-oxidants, including beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, vitamin-E, lycopene and other carotenoids.
It’s more saturated than olive oil, so it’s more stable for cooking.
It’s heart healthy, based on the studies I’ve seen.
So it’s another thing to consider in lieu of olive oil.
Coconut Oil - finding a good source and why that’s important
So as a quick intro, coconut oil is heart healthy. The saturated fatty acid in coconut oil actually raises HDL and coconut increases metabolism and makes you lose weight. Because it contains MCFAs, it’s less likely to be disturbed by cooking than olive oil. It’s probably a better health choice than olive oil - at least olive oil as it’s conventionally produced (see prior post). So as a cooking oil - like to cook eggs in for example - it might be worth a try.
Anyway, the hard thing is finding a good source of coconut oil, which is what this post is about.
The techniques outlined in wikipedia to make coconut oil are a bit cringe-worthy, with all the bleaches and solvents added to food you actually consume. Dry processing is the standard, and it’s the worst.
Coconut oil can be extracted through “dry” or “wet” processing. Dry processing requires the meat to to be extracted from the shell and dried using fire, sunlight or kilns to create copra. The copra is pressed or dissolved with solvents, producing the coconut oil and a high protein, high fiber mash. The mash is of poor quality for human consumption and is instead fed to ruminants; there is no process to extract the protein from the mash. The preparation and storage of copra often occurs in unhygienic conditions which results in a poor quality oil that requires refining before consumption. A considerable portion of the oil extracted from copra is lost due to spoilage, consumption by insects and rodents, and during the extraction process.
All “wet” process involves raw coconut rather than dried copra, using the protein in the coconut to create an emulsion of the oil and water. The more problematic step is breaking up the emulsion to recover the oil. Originally this was done through lengthy boiling, but this produces a discolored oil and is not economical; modern techniques uses centrifuges and various pre-treatments including cold, heat, acids, salts, enzymes, electrolysis, shock waves, or some combination of them. Despite numerous variations and technologies, wet processing is less viable than dry processing due to a 10-15% lower yield, even compared to the losses due to spoilage and pests with dry processing. Wet processes also requires an expensive investment of equipment and energy, incurring high capital and operating costs.
Proper harvesting of the coconut (the age of a coconut can be 2 to 20 months when picked) makes a significant difference in the efficacy of the oil making process and the use of a centrifuge process makes the best final extracted product. Copra made from immature nuts is more difficult to work with and produces an inferior product with lower yields.Conventional coconut oil uses hexane to extract up to 10% more oil than just using rotary mills and expellers. The oil is then refined to remove certain free fatty acids, in order to reduce susceptibility rancidification.
I’d read about the problems with coconut oil here - using the so called copra process.
Copra is dried in a wood-fuelled kiln, or in the sun, over a period of a few days. …. Copra is bulked up at an export port and shipped to a large industrial oil mill — often in Europe or Asia. Unhygienic drying, humid tropical conditions, bulk shipping and long distances, result in lengthy delays and the growth of moulds on the copra. Sometimes this leads to aflatoxin contamination. Copra oil extraction requires large-scale, high-pressure, expensive, energy-intensive equipment. Unhygienic copra means that the resultant oil is normally of low quality with a Free Fatty Acid (FFA) level of 3% or more. (FFA is one measure of rancidity of oil). Thus copra oil requires refining, bleaching and deodorising (RBD) to create a commercially acceptable product. The refining process uses hydrochloric acid, solvents and steam to strip out the contamination. Some residual solvents remain in the oil. The process also removes the natural volatiles and anti-oxidants that give pure coconut oil its unique flavour and aroma. The total process from farm to refined oil can take many months. The residual copra-meal is only suitable as animal feed but, even here, care is required because it can be contaminated with carcinogenic aflatoxin.
This company seems to have found a pretty good solution.
“Direct Micro Expelling” is highly descriptive of the technology. It is:
• Direct — quick (oil produced within 1 hour of opening the nut) and efficient (OEE 85%)
• Micro — small scale (family farm size)
• Expelling — extraction of virgin oil and meal
The linked pdf shows a small scale organic process. It’s basically about taking out the meat, grating it, and putting it in a press. Old school. This is the kind of coconut oil you’d want to buy if you were in the market for it.
Olive Oil - more of a processed food than you think
Extra virgin olive oil is preferred because of its high phenol content. It contains:
protocatechuic acid, oleuropein, tyrosol, hydrotyrosol, dihydroxyphenylethanol, and other unique phenyl-ethyl alcohols as well as lignans and secoiridoids.
pinoresinol and acetoxypinoresinol-are key phenol components found in extra virgin olive oil.
The high phenol concentration in extra virgin olive oil results in three key health benefits. First is the ability of this rich phenol mixture to helps protect olive oil’s vitamin E. Especially during the process of heating-and even at low heating temperatures-these phenols help to stabilize the vitamin E present in extra virgin olive oil. Second is the ability of this phenol mixture to engage in free radical scavenging. Especially when it comes to the neutralization of free radicals like hydroxyl radical and superoxide anion radical, the rich phenol mixture in extra virgin olive oil is especially important. In fact, research studies have confirmed the ability of extra virgin olive oil’s phenols to help protect against free radical damage to LDL cholesterol as well as cellular DNA.
extra virgin olive oil is able to lower certain markers of inflammation (called TXB2 and LTB2) during a window of time 2-6 hours after consumption of the extra virgin oil where olive oil from later pressings is unable to do so.
Then I read this. Olive oil fraud in Italy is fairly common with products claiming to be extra virgin that are actually not.
most commercial olive oil is processed in a manner that damages its nutritional content, and this is only the beginning of the problems with it.
[On good small farms,] organic olives are picked by hand so as to not damage the skin or pulp. They are transported in well-aerated containers and milled within 48 hours of harvesting. Before milling, leaves and twigs are removed; the olives are washed, dried, and then crushed. The oil is separated from the olive paste without the use of heat, hot water, or solvents, and it is left unfiltered, as filtering also removes many nutrients. The first pressing produces the best extra virgin oil.
[In modern factories] olives are machine harvested along with leaves and twigs. Olives that have dropped on the ground are often mixed with the good ones. They are shipped in all kinds of containers, many of which are poorly ventilated, and heaped in large piles. (Here, olives are stored for too long and often become moldy.) The oil is then extracted in a continuous centrifuge while hot water is used to help separate out the oil. Antioxidant polyphenols are soluble in water and are washed away in this process, thereby lowering the shelf life and the nutritional quality of the oil. Italy alone produces 800,000 cubic meters of waste water per year from this process. Because substantial amounts of antioxidants are washed away, factory produced olive oil has a short shelf life of only months, whereas real olive oil lasts for two to three years.
the term “extra virgin” has no official meaning in the United States. The U.S. is not a member of the International Olive Oil Council. So olive oil sold here can be labeled “extra virgin” without meeting the accepted international standards. …
Investigators have gathered evidence indicating that the biggest olive oil brands in Italy, Bertolli, Sasso, and Cirio, have for years been systematically diluting their extra virgin olive oil with cheap, highly- refined hazelnut oil imported from Turkey. Despite the fact that details of this scandal have been published in Merum, a Swiss-German magazine, and in Italian journals such as Agra Trade, and the newspaper Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno, this information has been successfully suppressed and is known to only a handful of people. International arrest warrants have been issued and seized documents indicate that at least 10,000 tons of hazelnut oil is involved. As much as 20% refined hazelnut oil can be added to olive oil and still be undetectable to the consumer.
In 1996, a study by the FDA found that 96% of the olive oils they tested, while being labeled 100% olive oil, had been diluted with other oils. A recent study in Italy found that only 40% of the olive oil brands labeled “extra virgin” actually met those standards.
Italy produces 400,000 tons of olive oil for domestic consumption, but 750,000 tons are sold. The difference is made up with highly refined, nut and seed oils. Less strict guidelines make the situation even worse in the United States. Like in Italy, more oil is “produced” in California than there are olives available. The difference is made up with less expensive oils such as corn, soy, and sunflower. The problem is these other oils have been refined. The high temperatures of the refining process change the molecular structure of the oils, making them toxic.
I’ve talked to some people who have been to Italy and Spain and say the olive oil there can actually be green in color because if it’s made naturally and not processed, and that it tastes so much better made by hand.
What’s the upshot? First I think you have to look at the ingredients on your olive oil. Second, olive oil is not as healthy as you think, and you might be better off with avocados or some other form of healthy fat.
In terms of a cooking oil, there are alternatives, and I’ll do a post on that later. Of course I would be interested to buy olive oils that are made in a way that is more health conscious, and I’ll post if I find something like that.
Cancer, Nutrition, and trying to predict health trends
The fact is science is often years behind common sense.
In the mid-1930s, smoking was becoming so common and lung cancer so prevalent that it was often impossible to definitively discern a statistical link between the two. Researchers wondered whether the intersection of the two phenomena was causal or accidental.
You have to use your common sense to predict what science will find and discover in the future. It’s not hard. Our bodies were evolutionarily designed to eat certain foods and lo and behold we’re increasingly finding that those foods are good for us (fruits, veggies, grass fed meats + fish), and we’ll likely continue to find good things.
In contrast, we’ll probably continue to find more bad things and more problems with milk, soy and a lot of these “newer” foods that we only started eating in the last 10,000 years.