Diet, Nutrition and a Zen Lifestyle

Gary Saggu's blog on the holistic path

Healthy Oil Series (Part 3) Red Palm oil and its benefits

clock April 4, 2015 08:00 by author Gary Saggu

Long overdue but here is the blog post I have promised for a while on the benefits of red palm oil.  

What is it?

Red palm oil has a rich, dark red color when it is unprocessed.  It is derived from the pulp or the mesocarp of the fruit of the palm oil tree which also has the deep red color.  The palm oil tree is the African oil palm, Elaeis guineensis.  Red palm oil should not be confused by palm kernel oil which is derived from the seed of the palm tree.  (This article is about the benefits of unprocessed red palm oil and not the palm oil extracted from the kernel or the seed).  It is used in cooking especially in Asia and Africa.

How is it extracted?

It is cold pressed and best in an unprocessed organic state.  Indonesia and Malaysia have been the top producers of this variety.  

Nutrients in red palm oil?

Red palm oil is full of lycopene (also found in tomatoes) as well as alpha-carotene and beta-carotene(found in carrots) and these 2 nutrients give it its exotic red color.  Red palm oil is also very rich in Vitamin E in the form of tocotreinols.  A popular brand from Malaysia was available from Whole Foods - the bottle states no preservates or colors.  Also, 1 tbsp (~14g) has 14g of fat out of which 6.5g are Monounsaturates, 5.6g are saturates and 1.9g polyunsaturates.  It also contained 11.2mg of natural Vitamin E along with Natural Co-Enzyme Q10. Impressive but watch out for high saturates.

What are its benefits?

  • It may help lowering cholestrol and prevent heart ailments
  • Nutritional benefit (see above)
  • Promotes skin health
  • May aid in weight loss
  • Anti-oxidant and enables elimination of free radicals from body

 

Cons?

There is some talk of the massive deforestation in Indonesia and Malaysia to accomodate for the high demand for palm oil worldwide.  Also, species like the "pygmy elephant" are becoming high risk due to this. 

I wonder what cooking with this almost exotically bizzare looking oil will be like.  I cannot wait to try...this weekend!

- Gary Saggu

Part 1 of this series - Olive Oil

Part 2 of this series - Macadamia Oil

My tech blog

 

 

 

Gary Saggu red pam oil photo



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



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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