Archive for August, 2013

Grocery store shelves provide American consumers with a wide variety of cooking oils. Customers can select corn, soybean, peanut, olive, canola, and other oils. Is there a difference in the health values of these many choices?

According to the Agricultural Marketing Resources Center, Canola is a wise choice for healthful cooking. The Food and Drug Administration approved a qualified health claim that states substituting canola oil for saturated fats may reduce the risk of heart disease.

Canadian researchers developed canola from the rapeseed plant by eliminating undesirable characteristics of the latter. It is a member of the Brassica family and related to cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. Canada is the largest producer of canola oil. North Dakota produces 80 percent of this nation’s crop followed by Oklahoma. Its tiny seeds contain 44 percent oil. Canola is the primary cooking oil in Canada and Japan. The United States and Mexico are the second greatest consumers.

Why is canola oil significant in the diet? Compared to other cooking oils, it has the least amount of saturated fat and one of the highest amounts of monounsaturated fats. Saturated fat has been shown to increase the risk for heart disease and to increase bad cholesterol (LDL) while the unsaturated fats are beneficial to health.

Canola oil contains no cholesterol but neither do any of the other plant-based oils. Although too much cholesterol can be detrimental to health, it is found only in animal products.

Canola is trans fat free. Most trans fat occurs when hydrogen is introduced into liquid oil to make it a soft or firm solid. This process results in increased heart disease risks in the same way as cholesterol.

Canola oil has several other advantages. When stored properly, it remains stable with a shelf-life of a year. Because it has a higher smoking point than most cooking oils, it is less likely to break down during high temperatures of frying.

Because of its benefits, some food establishments have switched to canola or a blend of canola with other oils. Taco Bell and McDonald’s are among fast-food places to make this switch.

Changing the type of oil for cooking is one small step in attempting to remain well. For a healthier cooking choice, try canola oil.

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Where I live, the blueberry season has come and gone. Not that it mattered much as I garnered only a small handful from my garden this year. I rarely rely on what I produce but wait for that abundant supply in grocery stores and stock my freezer to enjoy this great fruit all year. Although some prefer to wash blueberries and dry thoroughly before freezing, I freeze those fresh blue delights in air-tight containers without washing. If you freeze unwashed, remember to rinse before using.

Blueberries are one of the most healthful foods you can eat. This luscious fruit, low in sodium and fat, supplies a good source of vitamin C and manganese as well as dietary fiber. In the 1990s, blueberries took center stage when noted for its rich source of antioxidants. Polyphenols, especially the anthocyanins that give blueberries their deep blue color, contribute to high antioxidants levels. Antioxidants play a major role as an anti-inflammatory agent.  Ways these nutrients help maintain health include:

  • Fight potential disease
  • Protect against age-related brain function by improving memory and motor skills
  • May work synergistically with dopamine neurons to improve motor behavior in Parkinson’s disease
  • May improve longevity
  • May inhibit cancer-cell growth
  • May help to lessen brain damage after a stroke

Blueberries have multiple uses. Some of the ways to add this tasty, nutritious, and versatile fruit into your diet are:

  • Add to pancake or waffle batter
  • Sprinkle on cereal, green salads, or yogurt
  • Make into smoothies
  • Add dried blueberries to granola mix
  • Eat handfuls as snacks either fresh, frozen, or dried

Incorporate blueberries as a part of an entire meal. We recently enjoyed a delicious and nourishing salad lunch by topping with poppyseed dressing and serving with homemade fig bread made with figs from our tree.

 Blueberries 1

This week I found a scrumptious-sounding recipe for blueberry pound cake. I can’t wait to try it.

Don’t overlook this healthful fruit when planning your snacks and meals. Find ways to use blueberries to perk up taste while adding a food packed with nutrients.

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