Showing posts with label healthy fats. Show all posts
Showing posts with label healthy fats. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Caution: Carbohydrates May Be Killing Your Brain

If you think you are doing yourself a favor by consuming a low-fat, high carbohydrate diet (including such things as breads, sugars, pastas, etc.), think again. The latest scientific research suggests that the standard American diet, which is often very high in carbohydrates and low in fat, is apparently increasing your risk of developing  depression, anxiety, ADHD, chronic headaches, dementia, and Alzheimer's disease.

At the end of this article, you'll find links to learn more about these recent studies and what you can do to feed your brain what it needs for optimum health. But first, in light of these reports on the dangers of a low-fat, high carbohydrate diet, it’s time to look at what may be a healthier alternative for you: a low-carbohydrate diet with plenty of healthy fats. 

Low-carb diet fundamentals

To get you up to speed on whether or not you want to consider a low-carbohydrate diet with healthier fats, get started right here:
And if you are ready to get going, let's look at some recipes that will help you increase the healthy fats in your diet while decreasing carbohydrates.

Low-carb Recipes with healthy fats

When people think about the common low-carb breakfast, their mind may go straight for eggs and bacon (skipping the toast and hash browns, of course). True enough, an eggs and bacon breakfast will meet the requirements for a low carbohydrate diet. But if you want a much healthier alternative, and one that adds healthy fats to your diet, take a look at the recipe I've been using 3-to-5 times a week for over a year now with excellent results (lost weight, increased energy, and improved skin tone). 
Ric's low-carb green smoothie for breakfast and lunch

If you don't have time to make two smoothies a day, these portions are enough to fill a large blender, creating enough for two large smoothies (one for breakfast, one for lunch) or three small smoothies (for a healthy mid-morning snack too). To make just one serving, cut the portions in half.
  • Kale or spinach – 2 to 3 big handfuls (depending on the size of your hand)
  • Celery – just one or two stalks
  • Healthy oils – a couple tablespoons of Udo’s oil or virgin cold pressed olive oil, and a tablespoon of coconut oil
  • A half cup berries (any fruit ending in the word "berries," such as blueberries, strawberries, or raspberries, will be low in carbohydrates as long as you do no more than a half cup)
  • Avocado – 1/3 to 1/2 of one, depending on size.
  • A quarter cup of raw almonds, walnuts, or pecans (not only for healthy oils, but makes the smoothie more filling)
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
  • 1-2 tablespoons of raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice, adjusted according to your tastes. Lime juice makes a good substitute or alternative.
  • A healthy artificial sweetener to taste.  Healthier and low carbohydrate alternatives include stevia or xylitol (I use some of each)
  • A dash of salt (counteracts any bitterness from the vegetables)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • A few drops of vanilla
  • 4-6 ice cubes – optional (maybe it's just me, but it seems to taste much better when it's cold)
  • Water, enough to let everything blend and reach the desired consistency (the "desired" consistency is a matter of personal choice – start with just a half cup and then add more as needed).
Blend all ingredients in the blender for 30 to 90 seconds, long enough to reach a smooth consistency. How much time this takes depends on how powerful your blender is and your personal definition of "smooth."

This smoothie is loaded with antioxidants and vitamins, as well as a generous dose of healthy fats. To make it a little more filling, optionally add a couple tablespoons of whey powder, plain Greek yogurt, or hemp seed.  For variety and to add extra health benefits, also consider experimenting with a dash of ginger root or mint leaves.
Lunch or dinner low carbohydrate recipes
Some winners, especially if you want healthy fats with your low carbs:
And when you’re ready for desert, try this low-carb pumpkin pie or these Low Carb Brownie Bites!

Get moving!

For best results with any diet, remember that intake is only half the picture. Food is fuel. How much of that fuel you burn influences weight loss. With a low-carb diet, as with any diet, exercise is essential to weight loss.

Research on carbohydrates and brain

Here are some resources to help you learn more about the brain risks with a high carbohydrate and low-fat diet.
A final note – consult with your physician before undergoing any significant dietary change.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Cuckoo for Coconut Oil

healthy fats
We've gone coconuts! For coconut oil...
it's one of the "good fats".
Coconut oil is one of the healthiest sources of fat, though few people know it. Did you know that coconut oil is touted by many respected doctors, including Doctor Oz and Doctor Joseph Mercola, as a heart healthy dietary fat source that keeps the body running smoothly, and as the oil you should use to replace other oils in your kitchen?

First Things First – Fat is Phat!

Here’s the skinny on dietary fat; trying to go completely fat-free can be bad for your health. In this modern age of low fat labeling — of trying to remove all fat from the American diet — you may be surprised to know that the jury is still out on several matters related to the risks and benefits of dietary fat. For example:
  • Does fat beget fat? The notion that consuming fat necessarily causes you to get fat has been brought into question by numerous studies that seem to indicate otherwise.
  • Do we need fat? Actually, and absolutely, yes! A certain amount of dietary fat is necessary for proper growth in children and for health maintenance in adults. And fat is a valuable source of energy, carrying fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, and supplying essential fatty acids.
  • Is fat good or bad? That depends on what kinds of fat, how much dietary fat, your personal health and age, and more. But at the very least, you should know that even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that fats are “essential for normal body function,” while adding that some fats are better for you than others (specifically advising you to avoid trans fats).
Getting the right kinds of dietary fat, and the right amount of dietary fat, is important for good health, and a great topic for a future article, but too rich a subject to cover in this article, zeroing in on one kind of healthy fats—coconut oil.  So, for now, you can do some more digging on your own about healthy and unhealthy fats with the aid of the websites and articles listed at the end of this article.

What’s great about coconut oil in particular?

While several oils are considered to be good for you, such as olive oil and canola oil, there are certain unique qualities to coconut oil that justify its position in the list of healthy fats, even though it’s a saturated fat.

trans fats
Adding coconut oils to smoothies kicks up
the taste and nutritional value.
  • MCT’s — If you are confused about how coconut — a saturated fat source — can possibly be good for you, it’s likely because researchers have advised us for years to minimize your saturated fat consumption. And, yes, virgin coconut oil is more than 90 percent saturated fat. But coconut oil’s fatty acids are largely medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which the human body can easily metabolize and make good use of.
  • Hot stuff! — Unlike some of the other healthy fats, you can cook with coconut oil. It can handle much higher heat before reaching its smoke point, staying stable up to 350 degrees.  By comparison, canola oil, flax seed oil, and sunflower oil all become unstable at 225 degrees.
  • Pleasant taste — Most coconut oils have a mild, enjoyable, nutty, and slightly sweet taste.  This makes it easy to use in recipes.  I often add a tablespoon of it to my green and fruit smoothies to make it more filling and to enjoy its other health benefits. You can also use it as a substitute for butter on toast or melted over cooked vegetables and in popcorn instead of butter.
  • Good cholesterol  — Most studies agree that virgin coconut oil does not raise cholesterol or that, at most, it primarily raises the good kind of cholesterol — HDLs — which is a good thing because it improves your ratio of good cholesterol vs. bad cholesterol. In fact, researchers have found that Pacific Islanders and Asians with coconut oil in their diets have very low rates of heart disease.
  • Good for what ails ya’ – Studies indicate that adding coconut oil to your diet may help you resist bacterial infections, viruses, yeast and candida infections, and fungus problems. As well, coconut oil can boost thyroid function, improve digestion, aid blood sugar level management, and facilitate absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.
  • Smooth operator – Coconut oil is also good for you topically. It’s a common ingredient in skin lotions, and is often used “straight up” as a skin-healthy massage oil.

good fats
Substitute coconut oil for butter on steamed
vegetables for a change of taste and a
healthier meal!

Choose the Best Coconut Oil

Not all coconut oil sources or providers are of the same quality and health value. To make sure that you’re getting as much of the health benefits of coconut oil, here’s what you should look for on the label:
  • Cold pressed — made without heat processing to form the coconut emulsion.
  • Organic — an assurance that the coconuts were grown without pesticides or chemicals.
  • Extra virgin — when the oil is produced by a simple pressing, without using chemicals to extract the oil from the nut. 
Even if the label includes all the right stuff, the taste can vary from one brand to the next.  Fortunately, it’s easy to look online for consumer ratings of the various coconut oil brands.

Dietary Fat and Coconut Oil

Here is an easy way to expand your knowledge on two topics brought up here: coconut oil and dietary fat. First, information on coconut oil:
And here are good resources for learning more about health and dietary fats, including dietary cholesterol, saturated Fats, trans fats (trans fatty acids, polyunsaturated fats, and monounsaturated fats):
You can find virgin coconut oil at most health food grocery stores and through many popular online retailers. 

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer