Diet, Nutrition and a Zen Lifestyle

Gary Saggu's blog on the holistic path

Healthy Oil Series (Part Deux) - Macadamia nut oil and its benefits

clock March 16, 2013 15:54 by author Gary Saggu

This is my second post on the healthy oil series - Read the previous post on Olive oil here.  I have been reading about the benefits of Macadamia nut oil a lot recently.  I had given up on the Macadamia nut after an article I read about a year and half ago that called the nut with not many nutrients and full of fats.  It was rated as the least useful of the 6 or 7 nuts profiles in this category.  I put it in my list of decadent nuts until I read about Macadamia nut oil and it benefits.  It made sense to me as nothing from nature has absolutely no benefit.

What is it?

It is oil extracted from the nut meat of the Macadamia tree.  This nut (and tree) natively grows in Australia as well as Brazil, Hawaii and other places.  The Macadamia nut trees, Macadamia integrifolia, prefer volcanic soil in more of a tropical climate.  The nut has a number of nutrients and the extracted oil has a number of anti-oxidants and is rich in monounsaturated fats.  The oil itself is clear, with a light yellow color and a distinctive nutty odor.  It is tasty, IMHO!

What are its benefits?

  • Heart and Head friendly:Since the oil is rich in monounsaturated fats(including Omega 3, 6), it helps in the lowering of the LDL cholesterol (bad) and helps in the maintenance of HDL (good) cholesterol. This oil may reduce the risk of heart problems and stroke.
  • As a beauty oil: Since the oil does not oxidise easily and has a rich, buttery feel on the skin it is used in creams and sunblocks. Full of anti-oxidants and the high fat content, it may help keep the skin supple and soft.  Also, loaded with Vitamin E, It may be the youth tonic I was searching for :). Btw, it is supposed to be also good for the hair and nails, although I have not tried it yet.
  • As a cooking oil: Since the oil can withstand high temperatures(smoke point at about 425 F) and has a great flavor, it is a good choice for cooking especially frying or sautéing. This oil also has a high shell life of almost 2 years.

I use it in my morning omelets almost every other day and am trying to integrate it in my diet.  While it is more expensive than other alternatives, it has become a regular in my kitchen. 

Next post on healthy oils will be on Red palm oil - Happy Saturday! 

- Gary Saggu

(My tech blog)



Interesting and questionable ingredients in common salt?

clock March 13, 2013 06:29 by author Gary Saggu

I was eating breakfast this morning and decided to indulge in a little salt.  As I was about to open the packet of salt, I decided to look at the ingredients.  I was quite surprised to see the list - Salt, Sodium Silicoaluminate, Dextrose and Potassium Iodide.

Salt - as expected Sodium Chloride (NaCl). Essential to human life but harmful to us in excess.

Sodium Silicoaluminate - an anti-caking agent used to prevent lumping in table salt.  I did some research on this and realized that there is speculation around it being linked to the progression of Alzheimer's disease.  This is also known as E554 and there is no way I can believe that it is good for the body.  My take is that anything with this synthetic of Silicon and Aluminium should be avoided.  IMHO, all E-ingredients should be avoided.

Dextrose - another mystery! According to the dictionary it is "The dextrorotatory form of glucose found naturally in animal and plant tissue and derived synthetically from starch.".  Personally, I do not want any form of sugar in my food especially in a sneaky way.  It is claimed by the salt makers that Dextrose keeps the Potassium Iodide stable (preventing its oxidation) but I am sure there are other ways to get iodine - naturally.  Also, definitely not good if you are on the slow carb diet (SCD)!

Potassium Iodide - (KI) This ingredient has a purpose - Iodine is a micro-nurient that enables proper functioning of the thyroid gland and used to prevent Goiter (swelling of the thyroid).  Some people argue the need of this in table salt as we need only a little bit of Iodine and it is present in sea vegetables, cranberries and strawberries (all organic I hope!).

Questionable ingredients in table salt - Gary Saggu

I have attached the photo for reference for all :-)! 

My take on this is to start eating natural unrefined sea salts from pure sources - like Celtic sea salt.  I will check in my local Whole foods and update this list.

- Gary Saggu

(My tech blog)



Healthy Oil Series - Olive oil and its benefits also virgin, extra-virgin or cold-pressed explained

clock March 9, 2013 16:33 by author Gary Saggu

I have come across so many articles about how great Olive Oil is and its many benefits.  So, I thought this necessitates a blog entry this Saturday evening as I was confused about some terms like virgin, extra-virgin and cold pressing.  

What is it?

Olive Oil is a natural juice(fat) of the Olive fruit that preserves the nutrients, taste and other aspects of the this fruit of this traditional tree crop of the Mediterranean basin.  Olive oil is a core component of the Mediterranean diet (more on that in the future) and allowed in SCD(slow carb diet).  This extract is rich in beneficial monounsaturated fats and its anti-oxidant substances.  If confused about anti-oxidants read my blog post about another important anti-oxidant here.

How is it produced? Different types of Olive Oil?  (I was confused about the following part the most)

Olive Oil can be extracted from the Olive fruit by chemical or mechanical means.  Mechanical means are the best and involve less processing.  These terms do not guarantee the quality or standard of Olive Oil, however, a good health food store will generally carry the top 2 varieties.  The following is a list in descending quality and nutritional benefit  :-

  • Extra virgin - extracted of the first processing of just ripe olives, it is the least processed and it is certainly the most nutrient rich.  Involves no chemical treatment at all and has less than 1% acidity.  
  • Virgin - extracted from the second processing of olives whose ripeness may be more. Its acidity is around 1.5% or less.
  • Pure - has some filtering and refining and it usually lacks strong flavor.  This processed, blended variety has higher acidity than 1.5%
  • Extra light, Refined Olive Oil and Olive oil - have varying degrees of processing involved and maybe considerably less beneficial than the top 2 in this list.  Variable levels of acidity which may be high sometimes and not good for us.

Like I said before Olive oil in a heath food store should really be in the top 3 types(really 2) only. Since there are not many standards and governance around the above mentioned terms, take them with a grain of salt and experiment and really examine the contents to make sure the olive oil will be what the label says.

What is cold-pressing?

Olive oil is produced by extracting the juice from the Olive fruit by mashing them.  Olive presses were used and traditionally operated by hand.  This first pressing produced very little oil and was called "cold pressing".  All extra virgin Olive Oil should be cold pressed to preserve its nutritional benefits.  

What are its benefits?

  • IMHO, Olive oil is rich in beneficial anti-oxidants and may be an important cancer fighter.
  • May be an important blood pressure(BP) regulator.
  • May even help lower LDL (low density lipo-protein) cholestrol - the bad kind.
  • May help with obesity as well.
  • Supposed to help against osteoporosis.
  • Also, maybe effective against stones in kidney and bladder.

As part of the slow carb diet that I am on, I am consuming enough olive oil everyday - definitely more than 2 tablespoons of extra virgin cold pressed.  Coming up next Macadamia Oil. Happy Weekend!

 

- Gary Saggu



Catechin - Demystified with its benefits

clock March 7, 2013 07:27 by author Gary Saggu

What is it?

Catechin is a type of a polyphenol and it belongs to a group of flavanols part of the flavanoid family.  I had recently discussed Naringin, another flavanoid, in a previous post. There are also types of Catechin and Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCg) is worth mentioning as it is a powerful one(found in tea).

 

What does it do? 

Catechin is a powerful anti-oxidant and helps in the removal of free radicals in our bodies.  Free radicals are harmful to our bodies at a cellular level greatly weakening it and leaving it vulnerable to infections or more seriously degenerative diseases, cancer, heart issues etc.

 

Benefits of Catechin

Yes there are many, IMHO.

- Catechin maybe a natural flu/cold fighter as it has a natural sterilizing effect killing bacteria. Some plants actually secrete catechin into the ground around them to the hinder the growth of other plants around them. Anyone want to wipe out competition around them this easily? Smile

- Catechin maybe good for the heart and may prevent many heart ailments.

- Maybe a weight loss tonic, fat burner and a blood sugar regulator.  I am going to try this and update my blog once I have some results, not that I am admitting that I need to lose weight :-)!

- Maybe an important player fighter against cancer.  Hopefully there wil be some scientific research on this in the near future.

Where is Catechin found?

IMHO, the best source is green tea.  Not to endorse any brands but I am drinking Tea's Tea (Unsweetened Green White Tea) which is rich in catechins.  And certainly mind the caffeine.

Also found in Acai, Peaches, Kola nut and even garlic and more.  (Isn't garlic amazing?)

Moral: Drink lots of green tea throughout the day, so the catechin from the green tea is entering the body. I certainly am! Enjoy.

- Gary Saggu



The Glycemic Index demystified...Part 1

clock March 5, 2013 20:12 by author Gary Saggu

I have come across the term Glycemic Index so many times and its about time this term gets explained.  In simple words, this is a measure of how quickly the blood sugar level rises after eating any type of food - ranging from meats to fruits.  The Glycemic Index or the GI of a food is a great comparative measure of what impact do different foods have on the blood sugar level.  The index is relative to the GI of Glucose which sits at a 100.

Therefore, a food with a low GI will release glucose more slowly in a prolonged manner compared to a hi GI food which causes a rapid almost abrupt rise in blood glucose levels.  Much research indicates that high GI foods may cause obesity.  I am personally experimenting with consuming low GI foods and willl update this blog with results.  I am in my third week of the slow carb diet.

Note that the GI does not measure the amount of carbs consumed and has no reference to it. Also, GI of a food having one value in many charts is misleading as its ripeness, types of same food, cooking methods, processing of the food, length of storage etc. changes its value.

More about the GI soon...Good Night!

- Gary Saggu



Naringin and its benefits

clock March 4, 2013 20:57 by author Gary Saggu

Naringin is the flavanoid in grapefruit that gives it that lovely bitter taste. Naringin exists in all citrus fruits but grapefruit seems to have it as its major flavanoid.  Btw, flavanoids are plant secondary metabolites - not directly involved in the growth of the plant but help in it.

Naringin may have a number of benefits :-

  • Antioxidant activity 
  • Lowering of the blood lipids. (lipids are mostly fats but may also be waxes, sterols etc)
  • Improvements in cognition
  • Some tests (on rats) have shown it to reduce the effects of diabetes.  In humans? IMHO, its beneficial.

Time for some grapefruit juice.

- Gary Saggu



BAT - Brown adipose tissue or brown fat a lesser evil?

clock March 3, 2013 14:59 by author Gary Saggu

BAT or brown adipose tissue is one of the two types of fat found in humans.  It is abundant in newborns and contains many smaller droplets of lipids with a lot of mitochondria with iron hence the brown color.  As infants grow up, this tissue becomes similar in appearance to white fat but there have been many articles and research  that relate BAT to skeletal muscle.

Functionally, BAT has a primary function - to generate body heat by burning fat.  That explains why BAT is present in hibernating mammals and also animals that do not shiver.  Based on reading research articles, BAT is a fat burning fat cell so it maybe good for us.  BAT growth maybe stimulated by cold and therapies like hydrotherapy as well as books like the "The 4 hour body" by Tim Ferriss talk about the benefits of cold water and showers. Refer to article here.

Therefore, BAT maybe a good fat and stimulating its growth could be a valuable aid in burning fat.  IMHO, cold showers in the morning, encouraged by yoga and other eastern philosophies did have  BAT research behind it Smile!                                 

- Gary Saggu



Guide to Cheat Day (while on the slow carb diet)

clock March 2, 2013 21:26 by author Gary Saggu

1.  First meal of the day needs to be slow carb diet conforming.  This is not a cheat meal.  Today mine was a mix of mung bean and green lentils with ghee and some spices. This was accompanied by a little guacamole and an egg white omelet with an organic egg.  The omlet was mixed with some onions.

2. About 2 hours later, I had some sliced grapefruit.  Grapefruit juice is ideal but I could not find it (without added hi-fructose sugar) so that became my source of Naringin.

 

3. PAGG is taken to reduce glucose sensitivity but I am not on PAGG. I would love to hear if how PAGG or AGG is working for people on cheat day.

 

4. Lots of citrus juices during or lemon juice with water.  I had a freshly squeezed glass of orange juice - heavenly.

 

5. Lots of going to the toilet.  I had the honor of going about 4 times already and it is only tea time.  

 

6. Regarding the contractions in between meals, I have not been good with those.  I did walk briskly all day today.  I think I might go to the gym to make up for no air squats or other stuff before my meal.  But my first binge was a healthy soy burger(with muenster cheese) with some greens. Hardly a binge but I am trying to wait for an Opera pastry waiting for me in the fridge.

 

More thoughts on cheat day from the mind of Gary Saggu later as time progresses...now high tea (with scones and clotted cream, not! - I feel full already!)

- Gary Saggu



Checking the ingredients of allowed foods on SCD

clock March 1, 2013 23:21 by author Gary Saggu

Interesting thing happened to me at my local Whole Foods.  I wanted to add some variety to my breakfast and innocently opted for smoked trout for protein early this week.  The trout was yummy and all natural etc. Last night I was at whole foods again loading up on lentils and other slow carb foods recommended for the SCD (in the 4 hour body).  This time I checked the ingredients of my smoked trout and turned out that it did have "all natural" cane sugar.  So I checked all the smoked trouts from different vendors and they all had some form of sugar in it.  Hidden sugar in apparently safe foods that one can eat while on the SCD is a big reason why this diet may not be providing the results expected.



Veggie restaurant locator (iOS app)

clock March 1, 2013 09:19 by author Gary Saggu

Check out Healthymap.com with apps to locate veggie restaurants and healthy eats around you. A must have for vegetarians and healthy eaters on the go.

Two cities are currently supported:-

  • Veggie and vegetarian friendly restaurants in NYC: HealthymapNY Healthymap - Vegetarian and vegan restaurants in the New York City area - Gary Saggu
  • Veggie and vegetarian friendly eats in London: HealthymapUK Healthymap vegetarian and vegan guide to London - Gary Saggu


About Gary Saggu

Gary Saggu is a writer/blogger, technologist, martial artist and a thinker.  He is also a KRI certified Kundalini Yoga instructor, PADI certified diver and a Reiki healer.  He has travelled extensively across Asia, Latin America and Europe for many years. 

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