June Nutrition Nuggets


June is nearly over! The summer solstice is past us, and the days will be getting shorter. The months seem to be going by quite fast. What was new in the health news for June?

I believe the biggest shocker to anyone who is interested in their diet or nutrition is whether or not coconut oil is a healthy choice. Lets start with that. Remember, fats are not all the same. Here is an excerpt from my post Healthy Oils/Fats:     

  • Trans Fats:  Being banned by the FDA.  Most trans fats are made from highly processed oils; called partial hydrogenation. Research has shown them to be unhealthy for consumption and that is why they are banned in European countries & are being banned here.
  • Saturated Fats: They are solid at room temperatures. Less than 7% should be in your diet.
  • Polyunsaturated Fats: They are always liquid even when refrigerated. Each type of polyunsaturated oil contains a different Omega 3  to Omega 6 ratio. Check the labels. Your body needs both but the Omega 3’s should be higher.
  • Monounsaturated Fat: Liquid at room temperature but becomes cloudy when refrigerated. Choose oils that are highest in monounsaturated fats. These are the “healthy oils”. These oils contain more Omega 3’s.

CBS News ran this article, along with a video, on June 16th: Why you should replace coconut oil with healthier fatsThe American Heart Association (AHA) released a report this week aimed at setting the record straight in the long-running debate over the healthiest fats. A recent New York Times survey found that 72 percent of Americans think coconut oil is healthy but only 37 percent of nutritionists agree with them.

The AHA says that replacing saturated fats found in coconut oil or butter with vegetable oils like corn or peanut can lower cardiovascular disease by about 30 percent. That’s almost the same amount as a cholesterol-lowering statin drugI want to mention here that corn & soy oil is GMO unless it is Organic. Extra Virgin Olive oil, a mono-saturated fat, would be my choice.

In the video, Dr. Tara Narula said: “But the reality is when you look at what coconut oil is made of, 80 percent of it is saturated fat and that’s similar to butter which is about 60 percent saturated fat or beef fat which is about 40 percent,” Narula told “CBS This Morning.” “Saturated fat raises the LDL or the ‘bad’ cholesterol so coconut oil is going to have that same effect as butter and beef fat.”

There is such a thing as the “halo effect”, where a food goes from bad to a super food status from one study or a celebrity endorsement. We have seen this happen many times. This has happened to coconut oil. It is not a “bad” oil but it is a saturated fat. 

Based on all that I have read about this, coconut oil can be used, but in moderation. The AHA has recommended that no more than 7% of your total calories per day should come from saturated fat. For example, with 2000 calories a day your saturated fat limit is 16 grams or 140 calories from saturated fat. On the label of my coconut oil it states that 1 tablespoon = 13 grams of saturated fat. 

Coconut oil advocates argue that it is a healthy fat because it is plant based. Not all plant based oils are healthy. They also point to cultures who exclusively use coconut oil in their cooking. Yes, but they don’t have the same lifestyle & fast foods that we have. I can list all the arguments for its use as a food, but research does not back them up. Consume it in moderation.

It still has many uses as a skin moisturizer & in other beauty products. Don’t throw it away, just move it to your bathroom 🙂

As I am writing this, I see a new study with Extra Virgin Olive Oil. USA Today reported on June 21, 2017: Extra virgin olive oil staves off Alzheimer’s, preserves memory, new study shows  Very good article by Sean Rossman. “Temple University research shows extra-virgin olive oil protects against memory loss, preserves the ability to learn and reduces conditions associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers at the college’s Lewis Katz School of Medicine found mice with EVOO-enriched diets had better memories and learning abilities compared to the rodents who didn’t eat the oil. The real effect of EVOO appeared in the inner-workings of the mice’s brains. Neuron connections in the brain were better preserved in those on an EVOO diet.

Also, olive oil reduces brain inflammation and activates the autophagy process, whereby intracellular debris and toxins are removed. Such debris and toxins are firm markers of Alzheimer’s disease. A reduction in autophagy, researchers claim, is suspected to be the beginning of Alzheimer’s disease. 

Read the rest of the article for more information about this study. This is good news, but remember, the study has been done only on rats. Human clinical trials are needed. But in the meantime, I will keep on using my extra virgin olive oil! 

The next piece of bad news is for french fry lovers 🙂  From the Washington Post, Those french fries could kill you, a new study says. But don’t panic! This article, published b on June 16, was my favorite because of the way it was written. He starts by saying: Hey, you, the dude reading this story on your phone over a pile of french fries: Back slowly away from the crispy spuds. They’re out to get you.” 

The article is based on a new study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition which concluded that: “The frequent consumption of fried potatoes appears to be associated with an increased mortality risk. Additional studies in larger sample sizes should be performed to confirm if overall potato consumption is associated with higher mortality risk.”

Mr. Carmen finished the article with: What they did say was that folks who ate “fried potatoes” two or more times a week “were at an increased risk of mortality.” And not the kind of minuscule increase that’s easy to brush off for those firmly committed to their death sticks. The researchers concluded that frequent fried potato eaters more than doubled their risk of premature death. This was in the study results.

The ray of hope for tuber lovers? “The consumption of unfried potatoes was not associated with an increased mortality risk,” the study noted. No word if those unfried potatoes were drenched with butter, slathered with sour cream and sprinkled with pre-shredded cheddar.

Everyone, of course, cried fryer-oil tears over the news.” Once a month can’t be all that bad, right? 

BBC News, June 14, 2017:  EU court bans dairy-style names for soya and tofu “Plant-based foods cannot be sold in the European Union using terms such as milk, butter and cheese, the European Court of Justice has ruled.

The ECJ was ruling in a case referred to it by a German court and involving German food company TofuTown. The company sells plant-based products with names including “Soyatoo Tofu Butter” and “Veggie Cheese”. It said customers were not misled, because their products’ plant origins were clear.

Since December 2013 EU regulations have stated that designations such as milk, butter, cheese cream and yogurt can only be used for marketing and advertising products which are derived from animal milk.

There are some exceptions. Coconut milk is allowed, for example, as are peanut butter, almond milk and ice cream. However, soya and tofu are not exempted.

I included this article because I thought it was interesting. Since the consumers were not confused, I am not convinced there is a problem with the labeling. I would say that the process required to make butter or cheese should be the deciding factor, not that it comes from milk 🙂

I really enjoyed reading this article about the history of rice in Asia. I received it from the Oldways Whole Grains Council’s newsletter.  A NEW DAWN FOR WHOLE GRAINS IN CHINA, MAY 31, 2017  When you think of grain foods in China, you’d be forgiven if white rice is the first thing that comes to mind. But as China gears up to feed a growing population, and ward off the diet-related chronic diseases that Americans are all too familiar with, the tradition of whole grains in China is being revisited with renewed vigor.

What is interesting about this article is that the reason they are promoting brown rice over white rice has more to do with feeding the population than the health benefits. One kilogram of paddy rice yields about 750 grams of brown rice, but only 650 grams of white rice. For this reason, the Health Promotion Board in the Philippines encourages people to “be RICEsponsible” and choose brown rice instead.  It would not be surprising to see similar campaigns make their way to China in the coming years. Apparently some reports warn that in 40 years there will only be enough food in China for people to eat 2 meals per day, so strategies to reduce food waste are of utmost importance.

Read the rest of the article for the history of white, black & brown rice in Asia. In conclusion, the article ended with this information…

…”Despite the historical significance that whole grains have in Chinese culture, companies are also  finding modern ways to incorporate more whole grains into current Chinese traditions. Oat House (the company that organized the Sino-Foreign Whole Grains Industry Development Experts Forum) is putting whole grain oat flour into the mooncakes for the upcoming mid-autumn festival in China. Here is a link to what mooncakes are.

With their eager embrace of globalization, many Chinese people have reshaped their diets to incorporate unfamiliar foods from around the world (like coffee and yogurt). Hopefully, with cooperation of Chinese government agencies, NGOs, and manufacturers, whole grains will make their way onto more and more Chinese plates as well. (Kelly) 

Kentucky fried Chicken has been in China since 1987 & has over 5,000 outlets there! Pizza Hut, Subway & Starbucks are there also. Hopefully the SAD, Standard American Diet, and all its diseases won’t follow.

After reading my post, my husband has abandoned using coconut oil in & on everything. It was the buttery taste that he was going for on toast & popcorn. I never liked it because it made my mouth feel greasy. He is back to using EV olive oil now. I think he has made the right decision. 

Until next week…Mary 🙂

***Cookbook by Rebecca Katz & Mat Edelson, on Amazon, only $1.99 for Kindle edition: The Healthy Mind Cookbook: Big-Flavor Recipes to Enhance Brain Function, Mood, Memory, and Mental Clarity  A collection of more than 120 recipes formulated to optimize brain health, boost memory, improve mood, sharpen the central nervous system, and more.