Fatty Acids April 15, 2016
The above image shows the typical fatty acid value of your top cooking oils.
Fats: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
Fat is not all bad and actually contributes to energy intake and helps your body to absorb very important vitamins, namely vitamin A, D, E and K. Hence your diet should always contain a certain amount of fat, however it’s important to choose the good fats which is your unsaturated fats and which can predominantly be found in oily fish, nuts, avocado, olive oil and canola oil.
So what’s the big story about reducing your fat intake in your diet and what is it’s link to cardiovascular disease? What role does canola oil play in the diet, is it a healthy fat and more importantly, and is it safe for us to include in our daily diet?
Below we have attempted to provide you with some clarity regarding these topics.
Fats and their effects on cardiovascular health
You get two types of fats, good fats and bad fats. Unhealthy fats which raise your cholesterol, increasing ones risk for heart disease. These should therefore be limited in your diet.
Unhealthy fats include saturated fat (visible fat on meats, skin on chicken, full cream dairy products, butter, lard, brick margarine, coffee creamers, palm oil and coconut oil and trans fats (commercially prepared biscuits, cakes, crackers, potato crisps, deep fried foods, margarines and foods that contain partially hydrogenated oils).
It is well documented that healthy fats like mono and polyunsaturated (especially omega 3 and 6) fats, exert a cardio-protective effect by reducing high cholesterol levels and omega 3 particularly in preventing abnormal blood clotting. These omega 3 and 6 fats are known as essential fats as the body does not produce them naturally – hence these sources need to be acquired through the diet.
Canola oil and its role in heart health
Canola oil is a refined vegetable oil made from the crushed seeds of the canola plant. It contains a high content of unsaturated fat (approximately 93% – mono and polyunsaturated) and low saturated fats (7%) compared to other vegetable oils.
It also contains a source of omega 3 fats,(alpha linolenic acid or ALA) which exert beneficial effects of reducing elevated triglyceride levels and preventing abnormal blood clotting. The ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 in the diet also plays a role in achieving optimal health and well being. Whilst most people consume westernised diets attaining more omega 6 than omega 3 fats, Canola oil boasts an excellent omega 6: omega 3 ratio of 2:1, because of this ideal balance of Omega 3 to Omega 6 and because canola oil has the lowest saturated fat content of any cooking oil, it is the only cooking oil in South Africa to carry the CANSA Smart Choice Seal.
Is it safe to include in your diet?
Most definitely! This oil was previously rumoured, to exhibit many negative health benefits including being ‘poisonous’ because it is made from the rape seed, causing blindness and deterioration of the nervous system, causing mad cow disease, to name just a few of these ridiculous claims! Shân Biesmon-Simons, director for Nutrition and Education at the Heart and Stroke Foundation SA states that: ‘eating wisely is about including foods from all the food groups and making the better choices from those groups. Canola oil is one of the healthy unsaturated fats and can play a role in a heart healthy diet.”
So there you go – the next time you go shopping, remember to include this oil in your trolley!
Cold pressed vs. refined? Is there a difference?
Cold pressed oils are subjected to a different processing technique compared to refined oils. However, there is no difference in their fatty acid profiles so whichever you use, you are likely to get the cardiovascular benefit. The refining process is merely to remove any odours and impurities such as, free fatty acids and phospholipids, mucilaginous gums, colour pigments and fine meal particles. The only major nutritional difference evident from the two different techniques is that during the refining process; some of the vitamin E content is removed.
Cooking with Canola
Canola oil can be used for cooking at high temperatures as it has a high smoking point (the point at which an oil is heated producing an unpleasant smell and taste as well as compromising nutritional quality). Oils that have a low smoking point are for example olive oil and hence these should be used preferably in foods that require cooking at low temperatures or in foods that can be eaten cold (salad dressings). Canola oil carries the Heart Mark and as mentioned is the only cooking oil in South Africa to carry the CANSA Smart Choice Seal, it’s one of the best cooking oils out there, if not the best! It’s naturally cholesterol free, high in Omega 3 and made from locally grown GMO free canola.
World Health Day 2016 April 07, 2016
The World Health Organisation has launched a new campaign and has identified four superheroes to take to battle. The campaign focuses on the rising tide of diabetes worldwide.
Halt the rise
More and more people are getting diabetes around the world. The increase is in great part driven by rising levels of overweight and obesity and physical inactivity, including among children.
A healthy diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in sugar and saturated fats can help prevent Type 2 diabetes, and also help people to manage Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes if they have it.
Being physically active – through at least 30 minutes of regular, moderate-intensity activity on most days – can help prevent Type 2 diabetes and its complications, as well as help people to better manage Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes if they have it.
Follow medical advise
A range of treatments exists to manage diabetes and control blood glucose, including through eating healthy, being active, taking prescribed medication, controlling blood pressure, and avoiding tobacco use. People with diabetes can live well if they follow a treatment plan developed together with their health-care provider.
If in doubt, check!
Symptoms for diabetes include thirst, hunger, weight loss, fatigue and blurred vision. However, many people who have diabetes do not have symptoms. If people think they might have the disease, consulting a health-care professional is recommended.
Achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. The extra weight that collects around the middle is the single biggest risk factor for developing diabetes. By watching your weight you can start making changes to your lifestyle and prevent the extra kilograms from piling up. If your waist size is already above pants size 94 cm for men or 80 cm for women, weight loss should be your main plan to defeat diabetes!
Weight loss is not easy but by making long-term changes like staying active, reducing portion sizes, drinking more water, eating more veggies, cutting out added fat and sugars, and starting your day with a healthy breakfast you can get there. Weight loss should be gradual and done the healthy way to make it last. Quick weight loss tactics often leads to gaining the weight back once you fall back into old habits.
Activity has so many benefits! Upping your heartbeat pumps more blood around the body, keeps the heart fit, strengthens blood vessels, and most importantly, helps your body to become more sensitive to insulin – the key to preventing diabetes.
Yet our modern lives are a mixture of commuting, standing and sitting – whether at work or school. When we get home the couch and our favorite TV shows call for more inactivity. Even if we exercise an hour a day, that is only a tiny percentage of our time compared to how long we spend sitting!
There are two things we can do to change this. Firstly, aim for a minimum of two and a half hours of activity every week that is hard enough to make you breathe heavier and get your heart pumping. Our bodies need this to stay healthy. Secondly, move whenever you can! This can be taking comfort breaks, walking instead of driving, or even standing when you speak on the phone. These little extras cannot replace the value of heart-racing activity, but any movement still adds up to help prevent weight gain and diabetes.
Mr Eatwell & Veggie girl
Years of research inform us how to eat better to prevent diabetes. At the top of the list of diabetes-busting super-powers are fruit and vegetables. Include a variety of fruits and vegetables every day, aiming for fresh and different colours where you can. Next is recognising and reducing the added sugars. The biggest culprits are sugary drinks and sugar hidden in foods like breakfast cereals, baked goods and ready-to-eat foods. Also choose whole grains cereals instead of refined white grains and plant oils like canola and olive oil instead of animal fats.
Healthy eating should not be a chore or a punishment. Start making healthier choices part of your everyday habits and downgrade take-outs, sugary foods and salty snacks to once-in-awhile foods.
We all know smoking causes cancer and heart disease, but it can also make you more likely to develop diabetes. Smoking creates microscopic villains called free radicals that attack the body and cause inflammation. This chronic inflammation in turn leads to diabetes, heart diseases and many other health conditions.
If you are a smoker, cutting down will add years to your life and life to your years! It’s not easy, and most smokers try a few times before they manage to break the habit. Learn from your previous attempts and think how you can do it better the next time. Maybe it’s time for professional help or even medication? Stopping smoking makes you a superhero!
Can you see the superhero in you? Go out and conquer the bad habits and live a longer, healthier, diabetes-free life!