Tweaklet #59 – Cooking Oils

There was a cheesy TV commercial when I was growing up about car oils with two guys speaking in terrible New York accents and the punchline was “oils and ain’t oils”.

It was cheesy but memorable ad! And I mention it today because this also applies to cooking oils. Some commonly used cooking oils are very bad for our health. So here’s some information about oil that I’ve learned.

The first one to avoid is anything labelled vegetable oil. Usually this is heavily refined soybean oil, or possibly heavily refined cottonseed, safflower, corn or grapeseed. Obviously it’s the heavily refined part that is of concern – they are processed under high heat pressure and using industrial solvents!

The other big issue with these vegetable oils is that they are mostly composed of polyunsaturated fats, which is the most reactive type of fat). This means they are prone to oxidation and free radical production, when exposed to heat and light.

What this means for our body is that these oils cause inflammation which can in turn lead to many internal problems and even serious disease such as cancer and heart disease.

There are a number of other unhealthy oils, like Canola and Margarine, which we’ll tackle in Part Two. For now let’s look at the top three HEALTHY alternatives.

Virgin coconut oil – because it is very stable at medium to high temperatures and full of healthy fats that provide great health benefits.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil which is good for low temperature cooking and to use in your lovely homemade salad dressings.

Real Butter – particularly grass fed butter which contains important nutrients, vitamins and omega-3s.

So remember my fellow Tweakleters OILS AINT OILS and when you’re cooking, baking and making dressings, consider ditching the vegetable oil and explore some new alternatives.

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Tweaklet #52 – Salmon

We’ve talked about the health benefits of eating fish before and one of the absolute best is salmon. Salmon is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. Salmon is nutrient dense and particularly recognised for its high levels of Omega-3s.

The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish or fish oil help enhance bone health to keep conditions like osteoporosis at bay. They act as a natural anti-inflammatory to relieve inflammation and protect the nervous system from oxidative stress and age-related damage.

Studies show that salmon can do everything from helping boost brain function, sperm production and eye sight, to improving bone and skin health. It is full of heart-healthy fats, protein and rich in vitamins like A, D and calcium.

As demand for salmon has increased a lot of it is now produced in farmed conditions. There is a lot of debate about wild salmon versus farmed salmon. Generally speaking wild salmon has a much better nutrient profile than farmed salmon, but the biggest difference is the condition of many salmon farms. Living in a closed environment means the fish are more likely to need to be treated with chemicals which they readily absorb and pass on.

So when you’re shopping for salmon how can you tell the difference between wild and farmed?

The first sign is the colour. Farmed salmon is lighter and more pink, while wild has a deeper reddish-orange hue. Farmed fish will also a lot more fatty marbling in its flesh—those wavy white lines—since they aren’t fighting against upstream currents like wild ones.

Salmon is very versatile. It’s great simply pan-fried. Or it can be grilled or roasted or cooked in a paper parcel in the oven to seal in the flavour. And it takes flavour well so you can add a pesto or a crust or any of your favourite spices or herbs, and turned into an Asian, Indian or Mediterranean delight. You can crisp up the skin or take it off altogether.  And if you can’t buy fresh then good quality tinned salmon is OK too.

I find that even people who aren’t big fish lovers like salmon so if you haven’t had any fish for a while now’s the time to shop for a nice juicy deep reddish orange piece of salmon.

Mmmm, that’s got my mouth watering and some ideas flowing, so I’m off to get some salmon!

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Tweaklet #41 – Cholesterol: Natural Solutions

Cholesterol is a big subject and the cause of it isn’t just food related but today we’re just going to focus on some simple food tweaks that can help lower cholesterol.

Essentially the mix is including a range of healthy fats, quality vegetables
Firstly there’s olive oil which is loaded with heart-healthy saturated fats which has been shown to drop bad cholesterol levels.

Good old vegetables are next as they are nutrient dense and high in vitamins and minerals.

Nuts are great all-rounders in lowering all the bad cholesterol markers. And they are high in fibre and healthy fats. Seeds like flax seeds are also excellent for heart health.

Fatty fish like salmon are packed with beneficial omega 3 fatty acids which reduce inflammation and decrease cholesterol.

Then there’s spices like Turmeric and garlic that play their valuable part. Other vegetables like beans and legumes and sweet potatoes contain active cholesterol-lowering compounds. Avocados are excellent too, as are persimmons, that unusual fruit.

Green tea, which is rich in antioxidants can be used to good effect as can gluten-free whole grains. The usual things to avoid apply – caffeine, alcohol, processed foods, refined carbohydrates and trans fats. To help with cholesterol, like COQ10 and fish oil…….and essential oils that help lower and manage cholesterol levels.

Once diagnosed cholesterol is something many of us can manage successfully with some tweaks to our diet and it certainly can’t hurt to tweak things in that direction anyway.

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Tweaklet #40 – Adrenal Health

It’s not very sexy talking about our internal organs but sometimes we just have to. A condition that is often overlooked or misdiagnosed is adrenal fatigue. The adrenals are the small glands located at the top of each kidney.

Adrenal fatigue occurs when we’ve been under a lot of physical, mental or emotional stress, especially for a prolonged period. We don’t just feel a bit tired, we feel extremely fatigued,…….we have brain fog……….. we may have gained weight…………… have elevated blood pressure……..experience hair loss……..moodiness and depression….. and in more serious cases, have become insulin resistant.

But once again let’s turn to food and see what we can do to help ourselves through tweaking our diet.

For a start you need to eliminate some foods that are undoubtedly putting a load on your body. In fact these are good for all of us to consider eliminating…
Caffeine…………alcohol…………white sugar……………white flour……………processed foods………..fried foods……………soda…………..artificial sweeteners.
What you want to eat are foods that are nutrient dense but easy to digest and have plenty of healthy fats and fibre.  Lean meat or fish…………., leafy green vegetables and cruciferous vegetables,……………. low sugar fruits,…………… coconut…………, nuts……………., seeds, ……………fermented foods

Timing when you eat is important as it helps regulate your blood sugar which in turn supports your adrenal glands. Eat regularly and don’t skip meals. When your body has adrenal fatigue it needs routine and balance so that your energy and cortisol levels are consistently maintained.

Even when you’re feeling the worst effects of adrenal fatigue you will really notice a difference if you tweak your diet in these simple ways.

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