Vegetable Oils- Healthy or Not?

Let’s Talk Nutrition- Follow Along on You Tube!

Vegetable Oils- How do we get Oil from Vegetables?

Let’s talk Nutrition, this post is all about “Vegetable Oil”. Plant based oils are sometimes considered to be nutritious and healthy. Our post today is going to explore how these oils are processed and made, and help you make your own decision on what is healthy.

A lot of recipes, or food prep methods call for use of Vegetable Oil. Cooking, baking, marinades, dressings, the applications and uses of plant based oils in food these days really are limitless. Did you ever wonder how we get oil from Vegetables? Yeah me too, and the answer may surprise you.

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We do not get oil from vegetables; most plant based oil comes from seeds or pits. The most common sources of plant based oils are Olive, Canola, Cottonseed, Sunflower, Safflower, and Soybean. There are many other sources if you would like to take a look. There is some degree of processing involved to extract oil from seeds, let’s take a look at common oil production methods and how oil is made from seeds:

Plant Based Oil Processing Methods, Defined

Here is a breakdown of how plant based oils are produced:

  1. Solvent Extracted
  2. Expeller Pressed
  3. Cold Pressed

Solvent Extracted

Solvent Extracted oils are produced by grinding seeds down to a paste, and introducing a chemical solvent to help extract the oil (the most common chemical used for this method is Hexane). The solvent chemicals are removed after the process, giving us Vegetable Oil.

Commercial companies claim that all of the solvent chemicals are removed at the end of the process, however they are not able to guarantee there are not trace amounts left in the finished product. The end result is a highly efficient oil production process, which can extract 98-99% of oil from the seed. Due to the high efficiency of this process, solvent extracted oils are often the cheapest (and most widely available).

Expeller Pressed

Expeller Pressed Oils are produced by a mechanical process, which does not involve chemical solvents. The expeller presses the oil from the seeds, and this process also produces some heat (140-210 degrees F).

The heat produced in the process actually helps press more oil from the seed, however it is not as efficient as solvent extracting, typically pulling 60-70% of oil from the seeds. If you note on the product label that the oil you are using is expeller pressed, you may be assured that solvent extraction was not used in production.  

Cold Pressed

Cold Pressing is also done via mechanical means, similar to expeller pressing, however the temperature may not exceed 110 degrees F to be labeled Cold Pressed.

Cold Pressed is the least processed plant based oil, and is popular among consumers because the flavor of Olive, Avocado, etc. is not fundamentally altered by heat or a chemical extraction process. As you may imagine, cold pressing is less efficient than expeller pressing due to lower temperature, and typically cold pressed/cold processed oils will cost more to buy.

Cracking the Code

If you want to be sure of the processing method of oils you buy, you must read the label and research the company. Unfortunately, companies are not required to list on their label if they use solvent extraction as their processing method.

To crack this code, follow these guidelines:

  • Is the oil you are buying is very low in price?
  • Is the processing method listed on the ingredients label?
  • If yes to question 1 and/or no to question 2, you can make a reasonable assumption that it is solvent extracted.

For a quick and easy guide to reading and understanding nutrition labels, take a look at my blog post on this topic. What you’d want to see to make sure you are avoiding solvent extracted Oil are key words like “First, Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil”, or “Expelled Pressed Canola Oil”. If the label simply reads “Canola Oil”, that is an indicator it may be solvent extracted.

We will explore potential health implications of these different processing methods of plant based oils on a later post, but for right now the general theme follows the same guideline as my previous posts:

If food you are choosing highly processed, and fundamentally altered from its original state, this food is probably not the healthiest choice available.

Vegetable Oils in Summary

  • The Cheapest Oil is likely solvent extracted
  • Companies are not required to label solvent extracted oils as such
  • Cold Pressed Oil is the least processed of all plant based Oils

Food for thought, next time you restock your Vegetable Oil!

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Let’s Talk Nutrition- Decoding Food Labels

Lets Talk- Follow Along on You Tube!

Decoding Food Labels

Let’s talk Nutrition. Ever wonder what is in the food you are eating? Luckily, there is an easy way to find out! There are two main sources of food we consume regularly, follow along with me!

  1. Packaged Foods
  2. Non-Packaged (think fruits, vegetables, grains, etc.)

Understanding Food Labels

Lets start with the staple in most grocery stores, packaged foods. The first thing you want to do is read the label. The label of any packaged food breaks down into two sections:

  1. Nutrition Facts
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2. Ingredients:

reading-ingredients-labels

Here are some important tips for Decoding and Understanding Nutrition Facts and Ingredients:

  1. Nutrition Facts tell you the Macro and Micro Nutrient content of the food. Macro Nutrients are: Carbohydrates, Fat, Protein. Micro Nutrients are Vitamins and Minerals.
  2. Nutrition Facts also tell you the serving size of the food, and how many servings per container. This can help you determine the nutrient content of something you eat, by scaling up or down to the number of servings you consume.
  3. Ingredients will tell you exactly what is in the food you are consuming, and the label is printed in descending order starting with the most abundant ingredient in the product. In the example above, the most abundant ingredient is Enriched Wheat Flour, the least abundant is food coloring.

No Label? No Problem!

What to do if your food does not have a label? My example in the video is of an onion. Well, the ingredients are easy to figure out, its an Onion! There are ways that you can look up and find nutrition facts for whole foods that do not have labels, here is one you can check out:

Top Tips for Making Healthier Food Choices

This is a guide to the very basics of understanding what is in the food we eat. The main take-aways for making healthy food choices:

  1. If you are buying food in a box or a bag, make sure you can identify all the ingredients, and if you don’t understand what they are, look them up!
  2. Eating more foods that do not have labels (fruits and vegetables) will cut down on the amount of processed foods and mystery ingredients to look up!

I hope this was good food for thought when it comes to making healthier choices the next time you go shopping!

Lets Talk Nutrition- Juice!

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Lets Talk! Follow along on You Tube:

Hi everyone, hope you have been enjoying these nutrition posts so far! Please take a look at my last post on Hydration if you did not get a chance, I cannot emphasize enough how important this is for our overall Health:

https://10minutetakeaways.com/2019/07/18/lets-talk-nutrition-staying-hydrated/

It is hot, it is summer, so we are going to explore another nice refreshing topic, Juice! Juice is a hot topic right now, but just like most things there are a lot of different products, and schools of thought on what healthy. This post is going to give you some great information to help make the best choice for you, if you add juice to your routine.

There are three main sources of juice, lets take a look:

  1. Pre-Packaged Juice
  2. Fresh Juice from a Juicer
  3. Fresh Juice from a Blender

The most common and widely available is Pre-Packaged, think the juice you buy in a supermarket. One pitfall of any product you buy is you are subject to marketing… terms like “all natural”, “healthy”, etc., etc.. There are many buzz words companies can use without any real guidelines for printing their labels. So, what to do if you want to investigate these products and their claims? Read the label and ingredients!

First thing you want to look for any a juice drink is % juice of the product. I know, if the label says juice, shouldn’t it be juice and only juice? Not necessarily, unfortunately. So take a look, and if less than 100% juice, read what else is in the drink. Here is an example:

Ingredients

FILTERED WATER, CONCORD GRAPE JUICE, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, GRAPE JUICE CONCENTRATE (FOR COLOR), CITRIC ACID (FOR TARTNESS), ASCORBIC ACID (VITAMIN C), PECTIN, NATURAL FLAVOR, SUCRALOSE

Here is a tip, “Juice Drink” or “Juice Cocktail” are usually indicators of not 100% juice. Additionally, many packaged juice drinks contain high fructose corn syrup, which is a highly problematic additive we will explore in a future post.

Even if a packaged juice is listed as 100% juice, fresh squeezed, organic…unless otherwise specified, it is likely pasteurized. Pasteurized essentially means cooked, in order to kill bacteria and microorganisms which may be present in the juice. Of course, there are many reasons to do this if you are mass-producing a product to sell, you want it to be safe!

What I would encourage you to consider about pasteurization is that concept we talked about called “Bioavailability” in a previous post.

Bioavailability:

https://10minutetakeaways.com/2019/07/14/lets-talk-nutrition-should-i-take-vitamins/

You get where I am going with this, fresh is best! You can go to a juice bar, or just make it yourself! There are two different ways to make fresh juice:

  1. Juicer
  2. Blender Drink/Smoothies

The juicer (feature in the video) runs fruit and vegetables through a machine to extract the pulp and fresh juice flows out the spout. The blender (also featured) pulverizes whole fruits and vegetables, but requires water to be added. Both are wonderful ways to get fresh juice. The difference? FIBER.

All dietary fiber run through a juicer is spit out the back. Options on what to do with pulp are to throw it out, compost it, or use in cooking. All fiber in a blender drink is contained and consumed. Here is the difference:

  1. Juicer: More concentrated nutrients, no dietary fiber.
  2. Blender: All dietary fiber from fruits and vegetables, less nutrients per drink because you must add water to make a drink (a juicer requires no added water).

If you are interested in a video tutorial on Juicing at home please comment or message me! It is a wonderful topic with many directions to go. See you next time!

Let’s Talk Nutrition! Staying Hydrated

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Video to Accompany Post!

Hi everyone, during this heatwave we are having in the Northeast, we’re going to continue to talk nutrition with the subject of Hydration. Hydration, simply put, is the process of replacing water which is lost from our body, each and every day. Here are the main ways we all lose water from our bodies:

  • Sweat (evaporative cooling)
  • Urine
  • Breathing

Why do we need to stay hydrated? Our bodies are made up mostly of water, over 60% Water is essential to virtually every bodily function, including our metabolic functions, circulation, and of course thermo-regulation (temperature control). When we become dehydrated, we can experience symptoms such as headache, dizziness, lack of energy, and failing to stay hydrated during hot weather can lead to heat exhaustion.

When talking Hydration and replacing lost water, the key word really is water. If you drink other beverages, you still need to make sure you are getting enough water to stay hydrated. How much water do you need? The answer is, it depends on many factors:

  • Body size
  • Activity level
  • Environmental conditions (like, when its really hot!)

Guidelines vary, the most standard one you have probably heard is eight 8 ounce glasses per day; however one guideline to live by is to make sure you sip water consistently throughout the day, because you lose water consistently throughout the day. If you wait until you feel thirsty, chances are you are already dehydrated. You need to make consistency and time your ally when it comes to staying hydrated, do not wait and try to play quick re-hydration in the hot weather!

A word on other beverages, anything with caffeine or alcohol is a diuretic, which is going to have a dehydrating effect on your body. If you enjoy a morning coffee or tea, as an example, make sure you have some water with it or shortly after to mitigate the diuretic impact. Additionally, any beverage with naturally occurring (or added) sugar, is going to be higher glycemic index and have impact on your blood sugar.

See my previous post to learn more about Glycemic Index: https://10minutetakeaways.com/2019/07/08/lets-talk-nutrition-the-glycemic-index/

Sports Drinks and hydration can be a topic for another day, if you are interested in a deeper dive, please comment or message me!

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These days, please be mindful of the source of your drinking water. Municipal tap water is often purified by means adding chlorine (in small amounts) in order to kill micro-organisms and bacteria. Anything in tap water is, supposedly, “not harmful in small amounts”. Tap water will often contain dissolved solids due to the delivery methods (often a series of metal pipes). Another unfortunate reality today are environmental chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides which used commonly and end up in ground water and drinking water.

Since we need to drink so much water each and every day, assuring purity is crucial. I personally don’t trust the sentiment that chemicals and dissolved solids are not harmful in small amounts, and would prefer to limit them whenever humanly possible. Here are some of the most pure and clean water sources you can find:

  1. Distilled Water: Distilled water is boiled, and the steam from this boiled is recollected and cooled for drinking. This process kills any micro-organisms, and removes dissolved solids.
  2. Deionized Water: Process in which manufactured Ion Exchange Resins are combined with water and extract the dissolved solids.
  3. Reverse Osmosis Filtration: Water is pushed through a semi-porous membrane to remove impurities, and often passes under a UV lamp to sterilize microbes.

Distilled Water is often very attainable and affordable at your local supermarket. You can also purchase a Water Distiller or Reverse Osmosis Filtration system for your home if you were so inclined, obviously you would want to price out a purchase like this and compare to the cost of purchasing drinking water over time.

Quick tip for the summer heat:

Make sure you are aware of the thermic effect of food when you are planning your outdoor activities and cookouts. What is the thermic effect of food? Glad you asked! Essentially, the thermic effect of food is an increase in your metabolic rate following a meal, you actually burn calories while you eat! Pretty cool, right? Now, obviously eating in access does not result in weight loss (quiet the opposite), and this is because the thermic effect of food only makes up a very small percentage of your overall energy expenditure.

Why is this important to account for on a hot day? If you are out in the sun, and potentially doing some physical activity at the same time such as yard games, you are already increasing your metabolic rate and activating the thermic effect of exercise (same idea, just generated by exercise rather than eating a meal). If you stack a meal, and in particular a larger than average meal on top of these factors, you may be in for some heat related symptoms (fatigue, nausea, dizziness to name a few) which will take the wind out of your summer sails very quickly.

The tip for today is to be aware of all of the different ways heat and metabolic activity can impact us on a hot day, and plan activities accordingly!

Please let me know if you have any questions, stay cool my friends!

Let’s Talk Nutrition- Should I Take Vitamins?

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Let’s Talk Nutrition-Accompanying Video here:

This post is going to be an introduction to the world of Vitamin and Mineral Supplements. The title question is do I need a Multi-Vitamin? Answer, yeah, probably you do. Vitamins and Minerals are essential for our overall health. Vitamins and minerals help boost our immune system, heal wounds/injuries, and generate new cells and tissues on a daily basis. Sometimes, when you are on the go, it can be challenging to meet all of your Vitamin and Mineral needs from your diet.

One problem, ever take a look at the Supplement/Vitamin section at your local Super Market or Pharmacy?? Which one to pick?

To help you find the best answer for you, let’s go back to a topic from previous posts: food manufacturing and processing. If you recall the post about reading a nutrition label and about vegetable oils, the less processed a food is, and the more you understand the ingredients, probably the better it is for you. The same is true for Supplements and Vitamins.

Let’s take a look at a sample label of a Multi-Vitamin:

Ingredients: Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Chloride, Dibasic Calcium Phosphate, Magnesium Oxide, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Ascorbic Acid (Vit. C), Ferrous Fumarate, Pregelatinized Corn Starch, DL-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate (Vit. E). Contains <2% Of: Acacia, Beta-Carotene, BHT, Biotin, Boric Acid, Calcium Pantothenate, Calcium Stearate, Cholecalciferol (Vit. D3), Chromium Picolinate, Citric Acid, Corn Starch, Crospovidone, Cupric Sulfate, Cyanocobalamin, (Vit. B12), FD&C Yellow No. 6 Aluminum Lake, Folic Acid, Gelatin, Hydrogenated Palm Oil, Hypromellose, Manganese Sulfate, Medium-Chain Triglycerides, Modified Food Starch, Niacinamide, Nickelous Sulfate, Phytonadione (Vit. K), Polyethylene Glycol, Polyvinyl Alcohol, Potassium Iodide, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vit. B6), Riboflavin (Vit. B2), Silicon Dioxide, Sodium Ascorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Metavanadate, Sodium Molybdate, Sodium Selenate, Sorbic Acid, Stannous Chloride, Sucrose, Talc, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vit. B1), Titanium Dioxide, Tocopherols, Tribasic Calcium Phosphate, Vitamin A Acetate (Vit. A), Zinc Oxide. May Also Contain <2% Of: Ascorbyl Palmitate, Maltodextrin, Sodium Aluminosilicate, Sunflower Oil.

Wow, are you confused yet? I sure am. Let’s pick out one of the confusing names and analyze what it actually is: “Microcrystalline Cellulose” is essentially refined wood pulp and is used as a texturizer, an anti-caking agent, and a bulking agent in food production. The most common form is used in vitamin supplements or tablets…basically to help bind tablets together. Yummy, right? If I was going to take a supplement like this, I would want to do my own research on all of these mystery ingredients, as well as the manufacturing process.

Let’s take a look at another sample of a Multi-Vitamin supplement label:

Ingredients: Wild Harvested Spirulina Algae, Organic Blue-Green Algae, Chlorella Broken-Cell Algae, Organic Barley Grass, Organic Alfalfa Grass, Organic Wheat Grass, Organic Purple Dulse Seaweed, Organic Acerola Cherry, Organic Rose Hips, Palm Fruit, Organic Lemon Peel, Organic Orange Peel, Organic Beet Root, Organic Spinach Leaf.

The supplement above is an example of a “Green Powder” if you will, but these supplements can be made into capsules or tablets by more natural means than Microcrystalline cellulose.

Why does this matter? Bioavailability. Bioavailability is the relative absorption of a nutrient from the diet…so, when you consume a supplement or food, how much of the nutrients make it through your digestive system, into the bloodstream to cells that need those nutrients.

As you might imagine, vitamins and minerals found in whole foods or minimally processed whole food sources are much more bioavailable than manufactured supplements. Additionally, food sources often contain complimentary/enhancing Vitamins and Minerals. For example, you need vitamin D to enhance to absorption rate of Calcium for bone heath. Rather than a manufactured supplement, you could make a dish with salmon, tuna, or egg yolks for some vitamin D, and pair with calcium rich foods such as collard greens, broccoli, dried figs, oranges and dairy foods (Milk contains vitamin D and Calcium). The possibilities are endless!

So, I hope this information is helpful for you in picking out a multi-vitamin of your own, or perhaps getting curious about food combinations to help meet nutrient needs. Thanks for reading, have a great day!