Smorgasbord Health Column – Cook from Scratch – Tomatoes for Breakfast Spanish Style


Carol Taylor will be back in the New Year with the Food and Cookery Column after a well earned Christmas break.

In the meantime, I am sharing a breakfast that I was introduced to when we lived in Madrid. I love tomatoes and they were always readily available all year round. With some other simple ingredients, tomatoes provide a wonderful start to the day that keeps you going until lunchtime.

I would love to invite any of you who have favourite recipes that use fresh ingredients, to get in touch at the email at the bottom of the post. And of course another chance to promote your work.

Most of us associate a  breakfast with cereals, breads, butter and jams, a fry up, boiled eggs or perhaps sliced meats and cheese. However, when living in Spain we adopted a different and delicious alternative which is toasted fresh baked bread with olive oil and a spread made from tomatoes.

Over the years I have developed various recipes for this simple dish and it is so easy to whip up and so delicious that I thought you might like to find out more about it.

Although the dish is really easy to make and serve, it is absolutely packed with nutrients that work on so many levels in your body and benefit virtually every major organ, your skeleton and your immune system.

Whilst it makes this post a little longer than a simple recipe I wanted to illustrate how nutritionally important this dish is for our health by giving you a brief overview of the ingredients too.

But first the recipe.

You can make several days’ worth and store in an airtight container in the fridge. As there are no artificial additives and refined sugars it is a great alternative to other spreads and you can enjoy any time of the day. We have eaten in the evening for a supper from time to time. When we have guests we might also add some lean chicken or a piece of roast beef to the top.

The Bread

I tend to use my own homemade wholemeal Irish Soda bread which is yeast and sugar free. It can be a little crumbly but delicious with the tomatoes.

Or you can buy a  wholegrain baguette from a bakery where it has been made on the premises (no additives).

tomatoesBasic Tomato recipe.

You will need one tomato per serving. Using up tomatoes that have gone a little soft is great and just wash and take out the central stem. This recipe is based on four tomatoes cut into cubes and put into a blender.

Add 1 dessert spoon of Extra Virgin Olive oil and a pinch of salt. Blend until a puree.

The skin of the tomatoes will solidify the mix so scrape into a dish or a storage container to serve as soon as blended.

If you would like to add some more depth to the spread you can add 1/2 teaspoon of Pimiento Dulce which is lovely and smokey.

peppersRed pepper addition with onion and garlic.

To make the tomato spread especially rich and also even more nutritionally dense, chop up half a red pepper, half an onion and a clove of garlic and cook off with a little coconut oil or olive oil in a pan; or in a microwave without oil with a little water for 10 minutes. Add to your tomatoes and blitz it all up together.

Putting it together

Take a fairly thick slice of bread and toast both sides, or split a small sized wholegrain baquette and then drizzle a little olive oil over while hot. Use a spoon and add a good amount of the tomato spread making sure that it covers the surface of the toast.

Enjoy…

Here is a brief look at the health benefits and the nutrients that are packed into this easy to make and healthy alternative to a sugar laden breakfast.

Although it contains fats they are healthy fats and if you need to lose weight just use less on your toast as there is plenty of flavour in the spread already.

olive oilExtra virgin olive oil which is from the first pressing of the olives is the best oil to use as it contains higher levels of nutrients, particularly Vitamin E and Essential Fatty Acids.

Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are necessary fats that humans cannot synthesise and must be obtained through diet.

Omega-3 (Linolenic Acid) is the principal Omega-3 fatty acid and is used in the formation of cell walls, improving circulation and oxygen. A deficiency can lead to decreased immune system function; elevated levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) high blood pressure and irregular heartbeat.

Omega-6 (Linoleic Acid) is the primary Omega-6 fatty acid. Omega-6 can improve rheumatoid arthritis, PMS, skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis.

In a human trial it was found that polyphenol rich olive oil included in the diet improved the health of blood vessels which was not the case for another group of volunteers that included oil in their diet with the phenols removed. Obviously the healthier the blood vessels the more effective the entire circulatory system

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are another very nutritious food that tends to be taken for granted. We expect to see in the summer with salads but raw or cooked the tomato is a powerhouse of health benefits.

Tomatoes contain Vitamins A, C, and K. Folate and Potassium and provide good quantities of B Vitamins Thiamin, Niacin, B6 as well as the minerals magnesium, phosphorus and copper.

With the addition of fibre, regular inclusion of tomatoes in your diet, helps protect you against high blood pressure, too much oxidised low density lipoprotein cholesterol (the unhealthy kind) and heart disease.

Combine this with beta-carotene which is found in brightly coloured foods such as carrots, eating tomatoes offers some protection against sun damage. The lycopene content also has been show to make the skin less sensitive to UV light damage helping keep your skin looking younger.

As we age we also lose bone density and the Vitamin K, calcium and lycopene are essential in the production of new bone.

Red Peppers

Red peppers are packed with vitamin C, in fact more than most citrus fruits, and they have a high anti-oxidant level including Vitamin A, adding to that already present in the tomatoes.

They also add more B vitamins into the recipe including B6 which makes neurotransmitters that might help inhibit the development of breast cancer.

As well as the minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc, red peppers have a good amount of manganese, needed for bone density and tendons and cartilage.

Onions and Garlic
 onionsOnions and garlic fit well into the category of ‘Superfood’ as they are both nutritional and can influence health in a very positive way.

The onion has a powerful sulphur-containing compound, which is responsible for the pungent odour and for the health benefits. Onions contain allyl propyl disulphide, chromium, Vitamin C and flavonoids, the most beneficial being Quercitin.

Allyl propyl disulphide lowers blood sugar levels by competing with insulin, which is also a disulphide for space in the liver where insulin is normally deactivated. This results in an increase in the amount of insulin available to move glucose into cells causing a lowering of blood sugar.

Chromium is a mineral that also helps cells respond efficiently to insulin, which in turn decreases blood sugar levels. These two properties in the onion make it a vegetable worth including in our daily diet as we get older to help prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.

Chromium has also been shown to improve glucose tolerance, lower insulin levels, and decrease total cholesterol levels whilst increasing levels of the healthy cholesterol (HDL).

Garlic contains many helpful compounds including thiosulfinates such as allicin, sulphates including alliin and dithins the most researched being ajoene.
(Just a quick note on the addition of garlic you might want to time this ingredient so that it does not clash with a business meeting or a romantic date….)

Research has identified that garlic lowers blood pressure, decreases the ability of platelets to clump together forming clots, reduces blood levels of lousy cholesterol (LDL) whilst increasing levels of healthy cholesterol (HDL). It also helps our blood vessels relax which prevents atherosclerosis, heart disease and the risks of heart attacks and strokes.

Garlic, like the onion is anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral. With the current concerns that we have about potential ‘Super bugs’ it is interesting that garlic appears to be an effective antibiotic, even against some of these resistant strains.

Cancer protection is essential for all of us. The compound ajoene might be effective in the treatment of skin cancer and eating two or more servings a week of garlic may help prevent colon cancer.

You can find out more about the essential nutrients we need to be healthy in this Directory

If you have a favourite recipe that is made from all fresh ingredients then please email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com

I hope you have enjoyed the recipe and that you will enjoy eating tomatoes for breakfast from time to time…thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Health 2017 – Cook From Scratch – Multi-vitamin on a plate – Brown Rice Pilaf


health column final

I do take supplements from time to time. If I feel that I am going through a stressful time and not eating as well as I should, then I will take a multi-vitamin or appropriate supplement. As we get older some of our systems become less efficient and the digestive system is one that needs careful monitoring. You will find a whole directory of posts here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-health-2017-top-to-toe/

I know that if you have been following the blog for the last three years or so, you will have seen this recipe before, but for those of new to the blog you might find it a useful illustration of how you can pack a plate with not just food but nutrients.

My philosophy about food is very simple. ‘Cook from Scratch’ avoiding industrialised foods that have been infused with chemical enhancers and gift-wrapped in plastic. This does not mean that you stop eating the occasional food that comes in a packet or carton.. but if you eat at least 80% of your food from fresh produce with only 20% that is manufactured you are doing pretty well.

However, all of us go through times when we might need a little addtional help and that is where taking the right supplements is useful.

And the word supplement means in addition to not instead of. Your body is designed to process food to extract the nutrients that it requires and many supplements on the market, especially the cheaper brands may not be in a form that your body can utilise.

You can reproduce some of those often expensive vitamin and mineral supplements yourself, and here is my version.

It contains most of the food groups and a great many of the nutrients we require on a daily basis. Protein, wholegrain carbohydrates, good fats and a wide range of nutrients.  Whilst it makes a delicious main meal for the family you can make it in bulk and keep some in the fridge for two to three days and freeze portions for later in the week. You only need a couple of large serving spoons to get a great nutritional boost.

DSC_1207aw

But before I give you the recipe I would like to show you how this meal is in fact a delicious form of a multi-vitamin pill that the body understands and you will gain more benefit from.

This recipe provides you with a great vitamin B-Punch. I am only including those nutrients that are available in a higher concentration, but I think it illustrates that if you compare this to the information on your multivitamin supplement; you are getting most of what you need in this simple to make dish.

Ingredients with main nutritional elements.

Brown rice – any form of brown rice will contain more of the nutrients as it loses only the outer layer of the grain called the hull. During the process that turns brown rice to white rice it loses 67% of its vitamin B3 (niacin) 80% of B1, 90% of B6 – half of its manganese and phosphorus, 60% of its iron and all the dietary fibre and essential fatty acids. Do you realise that to make white rice acceptable as a food it has to be artificially enriched with B1 B3 and iron? It is amazing the difference that processing a food can have on its nutritional content. It also contains selenium and copper.

Olive Oil – Omega 9 Fatty Acid and Vitamin E. Inflammatory disease throughout the body is one of the leading causes of health problems for major organs such as the heart and brain. Using Extra Virgin Olive oil even in cooking helps reduce inflammation in the body. Also contains Vitamin E.

Onions and Garlic Folate, B1, B6 Vitamin C, biotin, manganese, copper, chromium, quercitin, potassium, phosphorus – heart health, blood sugar levels, inflammation, digestive system.

Red Peppers – Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6, Folate, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, phosphorus, magnesium. Antioxidant.

Mushrooms – Folate, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, copper, selenium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, manganese and a great source of protein.

Walnuts – Omega 3 fatty acids, copper, manganese and biotin. Heart health.

Spinach – Vitamin K, Vitamins A, Folate, B1, B2, B6, C, E, Calcium and potassium.

Tuna/Salmon – Omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins B3, B6, B12, selenium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, potassium.

Eggs – Omega 3 Fatty Acids, Folic Acid, Vitamin A, B2, B5, B12, D (very important) E, iron, iodine, selenium. (Research is indicating that having an egg a day is not harmful as unhealthy cholesterol is not caused by eating natural foods containing it but in eating industrial foods with high sugar levels and commercially manufactured fats).

Ingredients for four servings. You can freeze three portions and use as needed.

225gm /8oz of wholegrain rice (you can add some wild rice for flavour)
15ml/ 1 tbsp. Extra Virgin olive oil. (Recent research has indicated that this is safe to heat for cooking but do not burn).
30gm real butter (Spreads that contain half and half butter and margarine are also full of additives) Better to have a little of the real dairy fat.
1 large finely chopped onion.
Half a red pepper
Handful of mushrooms, button or shitake and as an alternative protein.
10 chopped walnuts.
4 oz. of finely chopped spinach or dandelion leaves.
Any leftover vegetables from the day before.
1 crushed clove of garlic.
1 teaspoon mild pimiento
Your choice of protein – One Egg per person, chicken, salmon, tuna, lean bacon or a mix of various kinds.
Salt and pepper to taste.

Wash the rice under cold running water until clear and drain to remove dust and any remaining debris. Cook until tender in boiling water for 20/25 minutes either on the stove or in a rice cooker in the microwave.

Hard boil four eggs. (A little tip is to put a teaspoon of bicarbonate in the water and it will make the eggs much easier to peel).

In a frying pan melt your butter into the olive oil and cook your bacon and remove from the pan. Add finely chopped onions, red pepper, mushrooms and garlic with a pinch of salt, the pimiento and a sprinkle of pepper to the bacon infused oil and butter and cook until soft. Add the bacon back in and then stir in the chopped spinach and walnuts.

Drain your rice and I usually pour boiling water over it in the colander to remove any starch residue. Add in one large serving spoon per person to the pan and on a low heat blend the rice through the ingredients.

Add in your cooked protein such as chicken, tuna or salmon or cooked shrimp.

Serve in a bowl and garnish with a hardboiled egg.

Variations.

Add in the vegetables you enjoy to the base recipe and you can jazz it up for dinner parties as guests love the variety. You can also eat this cold. Keep in the fridge in a sealed container and serve with a garden salad.  It will keep for a day or two and you can reheat with a small amount of stock in a large frying pan or reheat in the microwave.

©Sally Cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2019

My nutritional background

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines and posts here on Smorgasbord.

If you would like to browse by health books and fiction you can find them here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2019/

 

 

New Series Cook From Scratch – Continental Breakfast the Spanish Way.


A couple of years ago I ran a guest post series called Cook from Scratch with wonderful healthy recipes from around the world that not only included fresh ingredients but were flavour packed. I would love to invite any of you who have favourite recipes that you would like to share to get in touch at the email at the bottom of the post. And of course another chance to promote your work.

Most of us associate a  breakfast with cereals, breads, butter and jams, a fry up, boiled eggs or perhaps sliced meats and cheese. However, when living in Spain we adopted a different and delicious alternative which is toasted fresh baked bread with olive oil and a spread made from tomatoes.

tomato

It is something we would eat frequently when we were out for coffee instead of something sweet and because I tend to eat between 12.00 and 8.00pm each day as a form of intermittent fasting, it is my first meal of the day. (See yesterdays post on Intermittent Fasting).

Over the years I have developed various recipes for this simple dish and it is so easy to whip up and so delicious that I thought you might like to find out more about it.

Although the dish is really easy to make and serve, it is absolutely packed with nutrients that work on so many levels in your body and benefit virtually every major organ, your skeleton and your immune system.

Whilst it makes this post a little longer than a simple recipe I wanted to illustrate how nutritionally important this dish is for our health by giving you a brief overview of the ingredients too.

But first the recipe.

You can make several days’ worth and store in an airtight container in the fridge. As there are no artificial additives and refined sugars it is a great alternative to other spreads and you can enjoy any time of the day. We have eaten in the evening for a supper from time to time. When we have guests we might also add some lean chicken or a piece of roast beef to the top.

The Bread

I tend to use my own homemade Irish Soda bread which is yeast and sugar free. It can be a little crumbly but delicious with the tomatoes. (recipe coming next week).

Or you can buy a  wholegrain baguette from a bakery where it has been made on the premises (no additives)

tomatoes

Basic Tomato recipe.

You will need one tomato per serving. Using up tomatoes that have gone a little soft is great and just wash and take out the central stem. This recipe is based on four tomatoes cut into cubes and put into a blender. Add 1 dessert spoon of Extra Virgin Olive oil and a pinch of salt. Blend until a puree. The skin of the tomatoes will solidify the mix so scrape into a dish or a storage container to serve as soon as blended. If you would like to add some more depth to the spread you can add 1/2 teaspoon of Pimiento Dulce which is lovely and smokey.

peppers

Red pepper addition with onion and garlic.

To make the tomato spread especially rich and also even more nutritionally dense, chop up half a red pepper, half an onion and a clove of garlic and cook off with a little coconut oil or olive oil in a pan; or in a microwave without oil with a little water for 10 minutes. Add to your tomatoes and blitz it all up together.

Take a fairly thick slice of bread and toast both sides, or split a small sized wholegrain baquette and then drizzle a little olive oil over while hot. Use a spoon and add a good amount of the tomato spread making sure that it covers the surface of the toast.

Enjoy…

Here is a brief look at the health benefits and the nutrients that are packed into this easy to make and healthy alternative to a sugar laden breakfast. Although it contains fats they are healthy fats and if you need to lose weight just use less on your toast as there is plenty of flavour in the spread already.

olive oil

Extra virgin olive oil which is from the first pressing of the olives is the best oil to use as it contains higher levels of nutrients, particularly Vitamin E and Essential Fatty Acids.

Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are necessary fats that humans cannot synthesise and must be obtained through diet.

Omega-3 (Linolenic Acid) is the principal Omega-3 fatty acid and is used in the formation of cell walls, improving circulation and oxygen. A deficiency can lead to decreased immune system function; elevated levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) high blood pressure and irregular heartbeat.

Omega-6 (Linoleic Acid) is the primary Omega-6 fatty acid. Omega-6 can improve rheumatoid arthritis, PMS, skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis.

In a human trial it was found that polyphenol rich olive oil included in the diet improved the health of blood vessels which was not the case for another group of volunteers that included oil in their diet with the phenols removed. Obviously the healthier the blood vessels the more effective the entire circulatory system

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are another very nutritious food that tends to be taken for granted. We expect to see in the summer with salads but raw or cooked the tomato is a powerhouse of health benefits.

Tomatoes contain Vitamins A, C, and K. Folate and Potassium and provide good quantities of B Vitamins Thiamin, Niacin, B6 as well as the minerals magnesium, phosphorus and copper. With the addition of fibre, regular inclusion of tomatoes in your diet helps protect you against high blood pressure, too much oxidised low density lipoprotein cholesterol (the unhealthy kind) and heart disease.

Combine this with beta-carotene which is found in brightly coloured foods such as carrots, eating tomatoes offers some protection against sun damage. The lycopene content also has been show to make the skin less sensitive to UV light damage helping keep your skin looking younger.

As we age we also lose bone density and the Vitamin K, calcium and lycopene are essential in the production of new bone.

Red Peppers

Red peppers are packed with vitamin C, in fact more than most citrus fruits, and they have a high anti-oxidant level including Vitamin A, adding to that already present in the tomatoes. They also add more B vitamins into the recipe including B6 which makes neurotransmitters that might help inhibit the development of breast cancer.

As well as the minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc, red peppers have a good amount of manganese, needed for bone density and tendons and cartilage.

Onions and Garlic
 onionsOnions and garlic fit well into the category of ‘Superfood’ as they are both nutritional and can influence health in a very positive way.

The onion has a powerful sulphur-containing compound, which is responsible for the pungent odour and for the health benefits. Onions contain allyl propyl disulphide, chromium, Vitamin C and flavonoids, the most beneficial being Quercitin.

Allyl propyl disulphide lowers blood sugar levels by competing with insulin, which is also a disulphide for space in the liver where insulin is normally deactivated. This results in an increase in the amount of insulin available to move glucose into cells causing a lowering of blood sugar. Chromium is a mineral that also helps cells respond efficiently to insulin, which in turn decreases blood sugar levels. These two properties in the onion make it a vegetable worth including in our daily diet as we get older to help prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.

Chromium has also been shown to improve glucose tolerance, lower insulin levels, and decrease total cholesterol levels whilst increasing levels of the healthy cholesterol (HDL).

Garlic contains many helpful compounds including thiosulfinates such as allicin, sulphates including alliin and dithins the most researched being ajoene.
(Just a quick note on the addition of garlic you might want to time this ingredient so that it does not clash with a business meeting or a romantic date….)

Research has identified that garlic lowers blood pressure, decreases the ability of platelets to clump together forming clots, reduces blood levels of lousy cholesterol (LDL) whilst increasing levels of healthy cholesterol (HDL). It also helps our blood vessels relax which prevents atherosclerosis, heart disease and the risks of heart attacks and strokes.

garlic

Garlic, like the onion is anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral. With the current concerns that we have about potential ‘Super bugs’ it is interesting that garlic appears to be an effective antibiotic, even against some of these resistant strains.

Cancer protection is essential for all of us. The compound ajoene might be effective in the treatment of skin cancer and eating two or more servings a week of garlic may help prevent colon cancer.

To find a list of all the major nutrients that the body needs to be healthy and the foods that provide them click on this link.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/nutrient-directory-a-brief-overview-of-the-nutrients-we-need-and-the-foods-that-supply-them/

Photo Tomato y Pan – Flickr

I would love to have your recipes that are cook from scratch and made with healthy ingredients. I will add your links and that includes to your books and blog so an excellent way to showcase your work.. Contact me sally.cronin@moyhill.com

The Medicine Woman’s Larder – Olive Oil – Keep your engine running smoothly.


Medicine Womans larder

For many years fats were considered to be the baddy in the diet and recently it was interesting to see that for the vast majority of the population the difference between healthy and unhealthy fats was still a mystery despite all the health campaigns.

The right fats are essential for nearly all our bodily functions and they provide a massive amount of nutrients that play a vital role in the processes going on in our body 24 hours a day.

Lo and behold the ‘experts’ have now retracted their ill founded advice about dropping all fats and replacing with carbohydrates and low fat options in favour of a higher fat diet.. provided those fats are not trans fats in industrially produced foods.

Having said that, you cannot eat pounds of any fats, however healthy, without combining it with a balanced diet of vegetables, fruit, wholegrains, protein and exercise…

My favourite fat is olive oil and it is amazing how many health benefits there are in a tablespoon. Including this healthy fat in your diet on a daily basis in moderation provides the right fats needed by your body to function healthily and efficiently.

ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS (EFAs)

Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are necessary fats that humans cannot synthesise and must be obtained through diet. There are two families of EFAs Omega-3 and Omega-6. Omega-9 is necessary but non- essential as the body can make it if the other two fatty acids are present.

EFAs are essential because they support our cardiovascular, reproductive, immune and nervous systems. We need these fats to manufacture and repair cells, maintain hormone levels and expel waste from the body. They are part of the process that regulates blood pressure, blood clotting, fertility and conception – and they also help regulate inflammation and stimulate the body to fight infection.

Omega-3 (Linolenic Acid) is the principal Omega-3 fatty acid and is used in the formation of cell walls, improving circulation and oxygen. A deficiency can lead to decreased immune system function; elevated levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) high blood pressure and irregular heartbeat.

Omega-6 (Linoleic Acid) is the primary Omega-6 fatty acid. Omega-6 can improve rheumatoid arthritis, PMS, skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis.

There is growing evidence that the non-essential Oleic acid, Omega‑9, may help to lower cholesterol by decreasing the unhealthy cholesterol, LDL (low-density lipoprotein), while at the same time raising the level of healthy cholesterol, HDL (high density lipoprotein).

Oleic acid is also emerging as a regulator of blood-sugar levels and as a possible protection against breast and prostate cancer. So, including half an avocado in your diet every day may well protect you from the harmful long-term effects of a number of diseases.

Olive oil is also an excellent source of Vitamin E and phenols.

VITAMIN E: TOCOPHEROL; As an antioxidant it protects cell membranes and other fat-soluble parts of the body such as LDL cholesterol from oxidative damage and blood vessels. It can be used topically for skin health and is involved in the reproductive system. It may help prevent circulatory problems that lead to heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease by preventing clots from forming. It improves the pulmonary function of the lungs and enhances the white blood cells ability to resist infection.

PHENOLS: are a large group of compounds that include flavonoids such as anthocyanin and quercetin, phenolic acids like ellagic acid, fibres such as lignans and vitamins. Many of these have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-clotting properties, all of which are known to benefit cardiovascular health.

olive oil

THE BENEFITS OF OLIVE OIL.

Extra virgin olive oil which is from the first pressing of the olives is the best oil to use as it contains higher levels of nutrients, particularly Vitamin E and phenols above. Recent research into the reasons why Olive oil extensively used in Mediterranean diets is so healthy has thrown up some interesting results.

In a human trial it was found that polyphenol- rich olive oil included in the diet improved the health of blood vessels which was not the case for another group of volunteers that included oil in their diet with the phenols removed. Obviously the healthier the blood vessels the more effective the entire circulatory system. It appears that the particular part of the blood vessel that is affected is the endothelium or inner lining of the blood vessels. The endothelium determines the interactions between the blood vessels and the immune, coagulation and endocrine systems. If the endothelium is not functioning correctly it can lead to calcification within the arteries and increased risk of heart disease and strokes. Another function of the endothelium is the release of vasodilators (increasing size of blood vessel) such as Nitric Oxide and vasoconstrictors (decreasing size of blood vessels) such as thromboxane and prostaglandin. Like any system in the body balance or homeostasis is required to ensure that blood pressure is regulated and the phenols in olive oil ensure that sufficient nitric oxide is produced to keep the arteries open and blood flowing.

OTHER RESEARCH AREAS.

Until now it has been difficult to isolate which component of this very nutrient rich oil was responsible for the health of Mediterranean populations. Recently however in America they have identified a previously unknown chemical that they have called oleocanthal that appears to have an extremely effective anti-inflammatory action. They have compared it favourably with over the counter pain relievers for inflammatory conditions such as ibuprofen. This is great news for sufferers of inflammatory diseases such as arthritis.

OTHER BENEFITS.

Olive oil is very well tolerated by the digestive system and is therefore beneficial for stomach ulcers and gastritis. The oil activates the secretion of bile and pancreatic hormones much more effectively than prescribed medication and therefore lowers the incidence of gallstone formation.

Two tablespoons of a day has been shown to lower oxidation of LDL (lousy cholesterol) in the blood whilst raising antioxidant levels such as Vitamin E.

It is suggested that including olive oil in your diet may also help prevent colon cancer and this provides an alternative to patients who are vegetarian and do not wish to include fish oils in their diet.

Including extra virgin olive oil every day in your diet is likely to protect you from diseases such as atherosclerosis, diabetes, asthma, breast cancer and arthritis.

THE BEST OIL TO BUY.

As I have always said the less processed a food is the better and olive oil is no exception. On the shelf you will find at least four different grades of oil.

Extra Virgin which is the best, least processed and most nutritional and comes from the first pressing. This should be your first choice and used for all cooking and dressings during your detox period.

Virgin is from the second pressing and should be your second choice.

Pure undergoes some processing such as filtering and refining and is a lesser grade oil.

Extra Light – has undergone considerable processing and only retains a small amount of nutrients or even olive taste. It is not officially classified as an olive oil and it was produced more for the “diet” culture than for taste or nutrition.

STORING OLIVE OIL.

Olive oil degrades in light and should be kept cook and tightly sealed. If it is exposed to air oxygen will turn it rancid. It is also better kept in a cupboard away from natural light and the best containers are ceramic jugs rather than glass or plastic bottles.

THE HEALTHIEST WAY TO USE OLIVE OIL.

It is better to use in its natural state on salads or vegetables. Use two to four tablespoons a day as a dip for wholegrain bread or drizzled over steamed vegetables or rice.

©sallycronin Just Food For Health 2007

 

 

Cholesterol and Fats – The myths and the legends!!


Smorgasbord Health 2017

This week the focus has been on cholesterol and the nutrients that maintain a healthy balance in the body. Cholesterol is not a random substance and is essential for many of the major functions in the body including the production of hormones. I cover that function tomorrow in the serialisation of my book Turning Back the Clock.

Today I wanted to focus on fats which also play a massive role in the balance of LDL (potentially unhealthy cholesterol) and HDL (healthy cholesterol).

It can be tricky because the good fats are fairly easy to spot but the harmful fats tend to be hidden and disguised in the packaged and processed foods we buy. Responsible manufacturers have mainly moved away from using the highly toxic ‘trans fats’ but unfortunately the cheaper your processed family meal for four is, the more likely it is to have few natural ingredients that might be classified as nutritional.

But back to fats…………………………..

We must not cut fats out of our diet – they have an essential role to play in our health and without fats and cholesterol our bodies will be open to infections, poor function in areas such as the brain, heart, reproductive system and our eyesight. I use the 80/20 rule because of my past weight issues and 20% of my diet comprises health fats – sometimes I will have more because I am out for a meal etc but basically my everyday diet comprises mainly seasonal vegetables and fruit, wholegrain rice, fish, chicken, red meat once a week, eggs, olive oil, moderate dairy. No one person’s diet is the same and you have to find the perfect balance for you and this includes your fat intake – as long as it is not harmful fats………..

Briefly, a quick look at the fats you are likely to encounter in your daily diet.   One fat to avoid all together is not naturally occurring at all and that is manufactured Trans Fats. Liquid oil is hydrogenated to extend its shelf life but in the process Trans fatty acids are formed – found in most industrially produced foods including margarines -snacks such as microwave popcorn, cakes, biscuits, cookies, pies etc.

The other fat which in large quantities is not helpful in maintaining cholesterol levels is saturated fats – if there is too much in your diet it will raise your total Cholesterol as well as the LDL. Mainly found in animal products but also some seafood. However, provided you are not eating the rich fat around a steak or roast every day, or eating a block of cheese three times a week, or a pound of butter on your spuds, you can enjoy what is very tasty component of your diet in moderation.

olives

The fats classified as healthy fats are Monounsaturated fats – which lower total cholesterol and at the same time lower LDL and increase HDL – this is contained in nuts, such as walnuts and olive oil.

Polyunsaturated fats also lower total cholesterol and LDL and these are found in salmon, soya, sunflower oils etc and have an important component; Omega-3 fatty acids. These can not only reduce your LDL and support HDL but are also very helpful in reducing blood pressure and the risk of developing blood clots. Even with people who have already suffered a heart attack including Omega-3 fatty acids in their diet reduces their risk of a fatal attack.

salmon

I love fish and living in Spain we are blessed with an abundance and variety so it is very easy to include oily fish at least twice a week. Some of the best for Omega-3 fatty acids are salmon, halibut, mackerel, sardines and Albacore Tuna.

At this point a word about cooking your healthy meals –  Use extra virgin olive oil for cooking (latest research indicates that this can be used at a higher temperature than first identified) and you can combine with some sunflower oil and a small amount of butter for a slightly different flavour. You should not burn any oil, but maintain a temperature that cooks your meat, chicken of fish evenly. I tend to brown the meat in the pan and then transfer to the oven or microwave to finish cooking

For salads, vegetables and on toast use Extra Virgin Olive oil which has not been over processed – do not be tempted to use the light versions on offer as these have been industrialised. Just use the real stuff but a little less.

One of the most popular cholesterol myths… Eggs and your diet.

eggs

For many years the advice from nutritional experts is to remove eggs from your diet if you have high cholesterol.. Actually there is very little connection between the dietary cholesterol to be found in eggs and blood cholesterol.

If you are not eating a high proportion of processed foods containing high levels of Trans fats and sugars, eating an egg a day is actually going to be beneficial.

The liver produces much more cholesterol than you can consume from eggs or other animal products however if the rest of your diet is full of industrialised foods then your LDL – Low density lipoprotein is going to be high and that is the harmful form of cholesterol.

An egg has so much more than healthy fats going for it. The yolk is vitamin rich with A, D and E. Especially in the winter months when we are missing sunshine to work with our bodies to produce the essential vitamin D it is important to find another source and eggs are one of the few that are available. Eggs are also a great source of readily available and easy to prepare protein.

If you are in the process of losing weight then eating an egg, three times a week should be part of your healthy eating plan.

Cheese

Apart from chocolate… Cheese is probably one of my favourite foods. Unfortunately like chocolate it is something that once I start eating I find it difficult to stop. I did an experiment last summer when I was carrying 14lbs more than I wanted. I ate my normal diet for six weeks and just stopped eating my usual daily ration of cheese. I lost the 14lbs in four weeks. I now only eat once a week as part of a cooked meal and have kept the weight off. Back to that old adage.. Everything in moderation….

Food preparation.

It is a great idea to steam, grill or bake your food – if you are eating steak put in the oven in a pan with a grid so that the excess fat drains off – if you fancy a little butter on your vegetables, why not – great taste. Avoid frying everything you eat, especially in cheap cooking fat and this applies when you are out particularly when you have no control about the preparation of your food.

Here is a link to the Food Pharmacy for Olive Oil – great stuff – potent mix of anti-oxidants that can lower the LDL but leave the HDL untouched – obviously if you are overweight it does have a high fat and calorie count but much better to use the Extra Virgin version and get the health benefits than use the diet alternatives. It will also give you more information on the structure of fats. Olive Oil

The greatest gift you can give your body and its cholesterol levels is to avoid eating processed store bought cakes, biscuits, crackers some cheap breads, pasta dishes etc. If you make your own from scratch using butter and eat occasionally you will get a better tasting and healthier alternative.

Diabetes

If you suffer from diabetes the body is less able to maintain a balanced cholesterol level with an increase in LDL and VLDL (Very low density lipo protein) this leads to an increased risk of heart muscle damage and it is important that you have your levels monitored regularly. Having said that it is even more important that you stay away from processed foods, cook from scratch using healthy fats. It is also essential to stay away from high sugar content white carbohydrates instead using a moderate amount of wholegrains. Whilst monitoring by your doctor is available after diagnosis there are millions of people in the world you are pre-diabetic and are not aware of it.

This is why it is important to take responsibility and visit a pharmacy who offers a panel of tests for Blood Pressure, Blood Sugar and Cholesterol at least once a year to have a clear measurement of these key health indicators. That puts you in the driving seat and enables you to take action as well as work with your doctor to get you back within healthy ranges.

Cholesterol Levels measurements.

Blood cholesterol is measured in units called millimoles per litre of blood, (mmol/L) UK – you will note that some articles on cholesterol levels will recommend that normal levels should be lower than the recommended levels for healthy or at risk adults. However, this encourages people to drive their total levels down too far and puts them at risk of other diseases that result from a deficiency of cholesterol. I cannot stress enough how important the role of cholesterol is for the health of our vital organs including the brain.

  • 5mmol/L for healthy adults
  • 4mmol/L   for those at high risk
  • 5.6mmol/L to 6.2mmol/L considered borderline high
  • Above 6.2mmol/L needs to be lowered.

LDL/HDL levels

It is recommended that levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) should be: Again LDL does have a role in functions within the body and it is only when it is oxidised by free radicals resulting from unhealthy food choices that it becomes dangerous.

  • 3mmol/L for healthy adults
  • 2mmol/L for those at high risk
  • 3.4-4.1 mmol/L borderline high
  • 4.1-4.9 mmol/ high
  • Above 4.9 mmol/L very high.

Ideally the level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) should be above 1.6 mmol/L.

Measurements in the United States and other countries are expressed differently and here is the link to the Mayo clinic with their helpful graphics.

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/cholesterol-levels/art-20048245

To summarise – do not take fats out of your diet – use unprocessed, natural ingredients in your cooking, use fats and oils in moderation, eat plenty of vegetables, seasonal fruits, wholegrains, and eggs. If you are going to eat cheese or other high fat dairy products, do so carefully so that your total fat intake is kept between 20 and 35% of your daily intake depending on whether you need to lose weight or not.

©sallygeorginacronin Just Food For Health 2009

Thanks for dropping by and hope you found interesting. Please let me have your feedback and I would be grateful if you could share around the place.  Sally

 

The Cholesterol Myth – Fats – The Good the Bad and the Ugly…..


Today, another substance that plays a role in the healthy balance of LDL and HDL cholesterol. It can be tricky because the good fats are fairly easy to spot but the harmful fats tend to be hidden and disguised in the packaged and processed foods we buy. Responsible manufacturers have mainly moved away from using the highly toxic ‘trans fats’ but unfortunately the cheaper your processed family meal for four is, the more likely it is to have few natural ingredients that might be classified as nutritional.

At this point I think it is important to remember that our bodies have been evolving for a very long time – in a hundred thousand years our DNA will only have altered about ten times which means that we are physically very similar to our first ancestors – I have said before that the body does not react to sudden changes very well! However, in the last 300 years and particularly the last 150 years since the industrial revolution we have thrown some curved balls at our bodies. Processed foods with manufactured artificial ingredients is just one area where our nutritional needs are not being met – one of the others, which is the real demon in our diet, is refined sugars – addictive -available from birth to grave, within hand’s reach in shops, in our own fridges and store cupboards.

Add these to the laboratory constructed (ugly) fats to extend the sell by date on ready meals and other processed foods in our daily diet and it is no wonder our bodies are in melt down with increased health issues that lead to Heart disease, cancers and dementia.

But back to fats…………………………..

We must not cut fats out of our diet – they have an essential role to play in our health and without fats and cholesterol our bodies will be open to infections, poor function in areas such as the brain, heart, reproductive system and our eyesight. I use the 80/20 rule because of my past weight issues and 20% of my diet comprises health fats – sometimes I will have more because I am out for a meal etc but basically my everyday diet comprises mainly seasonal vegetables and fruit, wholegrain rice, fish, chicken, red meat once a week, eggs, olive oil, moderate dairy. No one person’s diet is the same and you have to find the perfect balance for you and this includes your fat intake – as long as it is not harmful fats………..

Briefly, a quick look at the fats you are likely to encounter in your daily diet.   One fat to avoid all together is not naturally occurring at all and that is manufactured ‘Trans Fats” Liquid oil is hydrogenated to extend its shelf life but in the process Trans fatty acids are formed – found in most processed foods including margarines -snacks such as microwave popcorn, cakes, biscuits, cookies, pies etc.

The other fat which in large quantities is not helpful in maintaining cholesterol levels is saturated fats – if there is too much in your diet it will raise your total Cholesterol as well as the LDL. Mainly found in animal products but also some seafood. However, provided you are not eating the rich fat around a steak or roast every day, or eating a block of cheese three times a week, or a pound of butter on your spuds, you can enjoy what is very tasty component of your diet in moderation.

The fats classified as healthy fats are Monounsaturated fats – which lower total cholesterol and at the same time lower LDL and increase HDL – this is contained in nuts, such as walnuts and olive oil.

index

Polyunsaturated fats also lower total cholesterol and LDL and these are found in salmon, soya, sunflower oils etc and have a very important component Omega-3 fatty acids. These can not only reduce your LDL and support HDL but are also very helpful in reducing blood pressure and the risk of developing blood clots. Even with people who have already suffered a heart attack including Omega-3 fatty acids in their diet reduces their risk of a fatal attack.

salmon

I love fish and living in Spain we are blessed with an abundance and variety so it is very easy to include oily fish at least twice a week. Some of the best for Omega-3 fatty acids are salmon, halibut, mackerel, sardines and Albacore Tuna.

At this point a word about cooking your healthy meals – Olive oil is great but not so good when heated to a really high temperature to cook your steak or fish. Use virgin olive oil if cooking and I will combine with some sunflower oil and a small amount of butter. You should not burn but maintain a temperature that cooks your meat, chicken of fish evenly. I tend to brown the meat in the pan and then transfer to the oven or microwave to finish cooking

For salads, vegetables and on toast use Extra Virgin Olive oil which has not been over processed – do not be tempted to use the light versions on offer as these have been industrialised. Just use the real stuff but a little less.

One of the most popular cholesterol myths… Eggs and your diet.

eggs

For many years the advice from nutritional experts is to remove eggs from your diet if you have high cholesterol.. Actually there is very little connection between the dietary cholesterol to be found in eggs and blood cholesterol.

If you are not eating a high proportion of processed foods containing high levels of Trans fats and sugars, eating an egg a day is actually going to be beneficial.

The liver produces much more cholesterol than you can consume from eggs or other animal products however if the rest of your diet is full of industrialised foods then your LDL – Low density lipoprotein is going to be high and that is the harmful form of cholesterol.

An egg has so much more than healthy fats going for it. The yolk is vitamin rich with A, D and E. Especially in the winter months when we are missing sunshine to work with our bodies to produce the essential vitamin D it is important to find another source and eggs are one of the few that are available. Eggs are also a great source of readily available and easy to prepare protein.

If you are in the process of losing weight then eating an egg, three times a week should be part of your healthy eating plan.

Cheese

Apart from chocolate… Cheese is probably one of my favourite foods. Unfortunately like chocolate it is something that once I start eating I find it difficult to stop. I did an experiment last summer when I was carrying 14lbs more than I wanted. I ate my normal diet for six weeks and just stopped eating my usual daily ration of cheese. I lost the 14lbs in four weeks. I now only eat once a week as part of a cooked meal and have kept the weight off. Back to that old adage.. Everything in moderation….

Food preparation.

It is a great idea to steam, grill or bake your food – if you are eating steak put in the oven in a pan with a grid so that the excess fat drains off – if you fancy a little butter on your vegetables, why not – great taste. Avoid frying everything you eat, especially in cheap cooking fat and this applies when you are out particularly when you have no control about the preparation of your food.

Here is a link to the Food Pharmacy for Olive Oil – great stuff – potent mix of anti-oxidants that can lower the LDL but leave the HDL untouched – obviously if you are overweight it does have a high fat and calorie count but much better to use the Extra Virgin version and get the health benefits than use the diet alternatives. It will also give you more information on the structure of fats.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2014/05/30/food-pharmacy-olive-oil-like-a-car-our-bodies-do-not-run-without-clean-oil-the-purer-the-better/

The greatest gift you can give your body and its cholesterol levels is to avoid eating processed store bought cakes, biscuits, crackers some cheap breads, pasta dishes etc. If you make your own from scratch using butter and eat occasionally you will get a better tasting and healthier alternative.

Diabetes

If you suffer from diabetes the body is less able to maintain a balanced cholesterol level with an increase in LDL and VLDL (Very low density lipo protein) this leads to an increased risk of heart muscle damage and it is important that you have your levels monitored regularly. Having said that it is even more important that you stay away from processed foods, cook from scratch using healthy fats. It is also essential to stay away from high sugar content white carbohydrates instead using a moderate amount of wholegrains. Whilst monitoring by your doctor is available after diagnosis there are millions of people in the world you are pre-diabetic and are not aware of it.

This is why it is important to take responsibility and  visit a pharmacy who offers a panel of tests for Blood Pressure, Blood Sugar and Cholesterol at least once a year to have a clear measurement of these key health indicators.  That puts you in the driving seat and enables you to take action as well as work with your doctor to get you back within healthy ranges.

Cholesterol Levels measurements.

Blood cholesterol is measured in units called millimoles per litre of blood, (mmol/L) UK – you will note that some articles on cholesterol levels will recommend that normal levels should be lower than the recommended levels for healthy or at risk adults.  However, this encourages people to drive their total levels down too far and puts them at risk of other diseases that result from a deficiency of cholesterol. I cannot stress enough how important the role of cholesterol is for the health of our vital organs including the brain.

  • 5mmol/L  for healthy adults
  • 4mmol/L   for those at high risk
  • 5.6mmol/L to 6.2mmol/L considered borderline high
  • Above 6.2mmol/L needs to be lowered.

LDL/HDL levels

It is recommended that levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) should be:  Again LDL does have a role in functions within the body and it is only when it is oxidised by free radicals resulting from unhealthy food choices that it becomes dangerous.

  • 3mmol/L  for healthy adults
  • 2mmol/L for those at high risk
  • 3.4-4.1 mmol/L borderline high
  • 4.1-4.9 mmol/ high
  • Above 4.9 mmol/L very high.

Ideally the level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) should be above 1.6 mmol/L.

Measurements in the United States and other countries are expressed differently and here is the link to the Mayo clinic with their helpful graphics.

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/cholesterol-levels/art-20048245

To summarise – do not take fats out of your diet – use unprocessed, natural ingredients in your cooking, use fats and oils in moderation, eat plenty of vegetables, seasonal fruits, wholegrains, and eggs. If you are going to eat cheese or other high fat dairy products, do so carefully so that your total fat intake is kept between 20 and 35% of your daily intake depending on whether you need to lose weight or not.

Here are the other posts in this series on Cholesterol and next time I will be looking at another of the key health indicators.. Blood Pressure.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/27/the-cholesterol-myth-part-one-why-your-body-needs-cholesterol/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/29/the-cholesterol-myth-ldl-vs-hdl-and-your-best-friend-your-liver/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/02/03/the-cholesterol-myth-carbohydrates-not-all-are-demons/