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Compassion

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Did You Know ~ Healthy Fats Part 3

"Give us nothing, but vegetables to eat and water to drink." Daniel 1:12

"I give you every seed - bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it." Genesis 1:29

Seeds and Nuts
Nuts and seeds provide healthy fats that are very important in maintaining a healthy heart, brain and blood function. Some of the best choices of nuts and seeds are raw almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds and flax seeds. Keep fresh nuts in your refrigerator and grab a handful when you feel the urge to munch. It is best to soak them before eating to ease in digestion.

Nuts and seeds contain heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Studies show that omega-3s provide important health benefits such as protecting against cancer and lowering cholesterol. Roasted nuts have been found to carry carcinogens which could lead to cancer growth, so buy your nuts raw. Although peanuts are high in protein, they are also highest in mycotoxins; mold and fungus tend to be found in or on most peanuts. Unless you are eating them from a truly reliable source in their raw form, I would recommend removing them from your diet and this includes peanut butter. Replace peanuts and peanut butter with almonds and almond butter. They are delicious, sweet and very alkalizing once ingested. Test your saliva pH before eating almonds and then chew on a small handful of raw soaked almonds – you will find the pH level goes up!

Kitchen Note: Soaking nuts, seeds and beans break down the natural enzyme inhibitors, which protect them from breaking down before sprouting, but it is hard on human digestion. Hence, soaking makes nuts and seeds easy for our consumption. It also begins the process of sprouting. We are then able to enjoy their life energy, as it is transferred to us once we eat the wonderful sprouted beans and seeds.

Coconut oil is 92% saturated – but don’t let that stop you from enjoying this delicious fat
Coconut oil is unusually rich in short and medium-chain fatty acids. Lauric acid, the major fatty acid from the fat of the coconut, has long been recognized for the unique properties that it lends to non-food uses in the cosmetic and soap industry. In recent years, lauric acid has been recognized for its unique antibacterial, antiviral and antiprotozoal properties. Coconut oil has grown in popularity because it is high in lauric acid, which research has shown might boost brain function and enhance the immune system.

Lauric acid has the additional benefit of being transformed into a substance called "monolaurin" in the human body. Monolaurin is an antibacterial, antiviral and antiprotozoal substance used by the human body to destroy lipid-coated viruses such as HIV, herpes, influenza, various pathogenic bacteria and the common cold. Lauric acid is also present in human breast milk that, when consumed by infants, is converted into monolaurin, which gives babies protection from infections. It is also being promoted as a weight loss aid because it contains at least 50% medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), which are easily digested and not stored as fat by the body and instead enhance the metabolism while giving a feeling of satiety. Approximately 50% of the fatty acids in coconut fat are lauric acid.

Dehydrated coconut is about 69% coconut fats, as is creamed coconut. Full coconut milk is approximately 24% fat.

Capric acid, another one of coconut's medium-chain fatty acids, has been added to the list of coconut's antimicrobial components. Capric acid is found in large amounts in coconuts and it has a similar beneficial function when it is transformed into "monocaprin" in the human body. Monocaprin has been shown to have antiviral effects.

Also, research has shown that natural coconut fat in the diet leads to a normalization of body lipids, protects against alcohol damage to the liver, improves the immune system's anti-inflammatory response and increases the metabolic rate. A faster metabolic rate stimulates increased production of needed insulin and increases absorption of glucose into cells. This is important for anyone with Type I or Type II diabetes. It also helps stabilize body weight.

The medium-chain fatty acids and monoglycerides found primarily in coconut oil have tremendous healing power. It is rare in the history of medicine to find substances that have such useful properties and without toxic or even harmful side effects.

Eating raw young coconuts would clearly be the best option, but most of us do not have access to this, so using coconut oil is the next best thing. One way you will want to consider adding coconut oil to your diet is to use it exclusively for all your cooking and sautéing needs since it is a completely saturated fat and does not form dangerous trans-fatty acids. My favorite source for coconut oil isNutiva - Coconut Oil Organic Extra Virgin. You can also check out the book Coconut Cures by Bruce Fife.

There is a lot of hype about coconut oil, and that hype results from a common process that begins with health research.

When scientists discover that some element of a natural food is healthy in some way, food or drug companies and others try to figure out how to profit from the isolation and sale of that component as a kind of "drug" or wonder food. Its part of a longstanding tradition in western medicine and science that constantly strives to improve, rather than embrace, nature.

In accepting this profit-driven, reductionist view about food, we neglect variety and moderation. Too much of any good thing can be bad for you.

Instead, we should add new research to our knowledge of foods, and constantly strive to eat those foods in their most original, unaltered and whole state.

Coconut oil is the isolated fat that results from pressed coconut meat. In recent years, coconut oil has grown in popularity because it is high in lauric acid, which research has shown might boost brain function and enhance the immune system. Lauric acid is a substance also present in human breast milk that, when consumed by infants, is converted into monolaurin, which gives babies protection from infections. It is also being promoted as a weight loss aid because it contains at least 50 percent medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), which are easily digested and not stored as fat by the body and instead enhance the metabolism while giving a feeling of satiety.

If you eat a diet generally low in other saturated fats and cholesterol (such as a vegan diet), then a moderate intake of unrefined coconut oil is recommended.

Most of our healthy fatty acids should come from whole, unprocessed foods such as avocado, flax seeds, raw nuts and raw seeds, so we get the whole package of nutrients including all the vitamins, minerals, enzymes, phytochemicals and fiber, which are destroyed when we process foods to isolate single ingredients -- and all the healthy components that science has yet to discover and isolate.

As a general rule, it's best to eat whole foods as close to their natural state as possible -- not isolated single components. While we need the use of isolated fats for cooking and dressings, for instance, it’s best that keep those to a minimum. Eating a whole coconut is way better for you than the isolated fat itself.

The many uses for virgin coconut oil with both a pleasant scent and taste include:

  • In place of other oils, margarine, butter, shortening, etc. in all cooking needs, as it is a stable cooking oil
  • As an ingredient when juicing or making smoothies
  • Consumed straight by the tablespoon as it smells and tastes so pleasant and has such excellent nutritional properties
  • In place of other oils on salads
  • As an excellent massage oil
  • As a skin lotion for healthier, younger skin, as explained below

For skincare, use the virgin coconut oil as you would any lotion. It prevents destructive free-radical formation and provides protection against them. It can help to keep the skin from developing liver spots and other blemishes caused by aging and over-exposure to sunlight. It helps to prevent sagging and wrinkling by keeping connective tissues strong and supple. In some cases it might even restore damaged or diseased skin. The oil is absorbed into the skin and into the cell structure of the connective tissues, limiting the damage excessive sun exposure can cause.

Coconut oil will not only bring temporary relief to the skin, but it will aid in healing and repairing. It will have lasting benefits, unlike most lotions. It can help bring back a youthful appearance. The coconut oil will aid in removing the outer layer of dead skin cells, making the skin smoother. The skin will become more evenly textured with a healthy "shine" as the coconut oil will penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin and strengthen the underlying tissues. It is the only moisturizer I use – one jar is in the kitchen and in our bathrooms. Our children ask to be rubbed with coconut oil after their baths and anytime they are in a pool.

Simple food choices go a long way when it comes to your heart's health. Focusing on fresh foods full of heart-healthy fats and antioxidants can decrease your risk of developing heart disease and cut your chances of a heart attack.

Health posts written by Jill are excerpts taken directly from her book...currently being edited for reprint in May 2009. Breaking Free – Truths For Healthy Living

Please see our Did You Know ~ disclaimer here.

1 comment:

Christy said...

We eat a lot of almonds but I have always bought the roasted unsalted almonds. Can you explain why the raw almonds are better?