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Benefits of spices: Cumin

Cumin is eaten ground or in the form of seeds in many East Asian and African cuisines.  It has many health benefits.  Cumin contains carcumin which presents a lot of benefits.

Spme of the benefits of Cumin are:-

  • Valuable source of Iron and cures any iron deficiency
  • Controls blood pressure as it contains low sodium to begin with and has a strong flavor so one ends up eating less sodium. 
  • Ground cumin kills bacteria in foods (especially fish and meats) so is beneficial.

Enjoy 

— Gary Saggu

www.garysaggu.com

www.garysaggu.net

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

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

Why should you make fermented foods a part of your daily diet?

What is it?

Fermentation is the conversion of carbohydrates into alcohol and carbon dioxide(CO2) or organic acids using yeasts, bacteria etc. without the use of oxygen (anaerobically).  Wow, carbs and sugars into alcohol sounds really beneficial for the slow carb diet followers but there is more to that.  Fermentation is used to make wine, beer, kimchi, pickles, sauerkraut, yogurt and more.

 

Benefits of fermented foods?

  • Preservation – it is a natural way of preserving foods and increasing substantially the shelf life of some foods.
  • Fermentation is an all natural process provided no artificial ingredients are used.
  • Tasty and inexpensive – I love the taste of almost all fermented foods (even sauerkraut:) ).  Moreover, it is easy to ferment foods inexpensively.
  • Fermentation eliminates toxins from the food.
  • Improves digestion as the food is easier to digest and assimilate due to the fermentation process.
  • Friendly probiotics and bacteria in fermented foods that balance the bacteria in the intestines.
  • Many studies have shown that fermented soy, helps in preventing and reducing the effects of many diseases including cancer and heart ailments.  The macrobiotic diet is a big proponent of miso, made from fermenting soy beans, has many benefits including lowering high blood pressure.

Time for a serving of sauerkraut!

– Gary Saggu 

(My tech blog)

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

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)