Monthly Archives: November 2016

Rice Recommends hours-long cooking process

Scientists from the College of Chemical Sciences in Sri Lanka have a new recommendation for how to lose weight, according to a report released by ABC Newslate last March. No, it’s not eating more fruits and veggies, and no, it’s not adding more exercise to your daily routine. It’s not “drink more water” either.

Sudhair James, a graduate student from Sri Lanka who performed the study, advises using a “simple” three-step process when cooking rice so that its caloric content is reduced.

That’s it! No more running, no more forcing down that steamed broccoli you hate so much. Just boil your rice, cool it down in the refrigerator and then nuke it in the microwave to help shed those extra pounds.

Sounds ridiculous, right? Well, it is. Not only is it a silly suggestion for how to slim down, but this “simple method” destroys all of the rice’s nutrition, stripping it of any potential it had of providing your body with essential nutrients.

Scientists recommend turning starch into “indigestible form of starch” to reduce rice’s calorie count

James, whose study was supervised by Dr. Pushparajah Thavarajva, recommends boiling rice with a small amount of coconut oil before placing it into the refrigerator. After letting it cool for a few hours, James says to microwave it briefly, and walah! The rice’s calorie count is reduced by as much as 60 percent.

“The hypothesis is that we turn more of the starch into an indigestible form of starch, which reduces the amount of calories the body will absorb,” said Thavarajva in an interview withABC News.

While presenting the research at the National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society in Denver, Colorado, James explained how 38 Sri Lankan rice varieties were considered before choosing to test the one with the lowest amount of naturally occurring starch resistant to digestion.

After experimenting with different cooking approaches, researchers decided that the best method was to boil it with oil before decreasing the rice’s temperature.

Researchers claim reducing the calorie content of rice could be a future method for fighting obesity and type 2 diabetes

“The beautiful piece is there was a fifteen-fold increase in the amount of resistant starch after using this method,” James said in the conference. “This led to a 10 to 15 percent calorie reduction.”

ABC News reports:

Starch molecules are shaped like doughnuts, explained Thavarajva. The added oil seeps into the holes of the molecules during cooking to help block digestive enzymes. Cooling the rice then allows the rice molecules to rearrange and pack together more tightly to increase their resistance to digestion, he explained.

The researchers believe their experiment to be such a breakthrough that they think it could one day be used in “commercial preparations” to help fight obesity and type 2 diabetes.

“We as scientists believe that if we are going to do this process on the best varieties and if this method is going to work this could be a massive breakthrough,” said James. “We could lower the calories in rice by 50 to 60 percent.”

Hop on the exercise bike and eat more vegetables!

As many scientists and nutritionists would likely agree, a better way to prevent diabetes and obesity would be to monitor one’s calorie intake, replace junk food with healthy foods and kick up your exercise routine. That’s right, do it the old-fashioned way.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, aside from genetics, physical inactivity and being overweight are two factors strongly associated with the development of type 2 diabetes.

“An imbalance between caloric intake and physical activity can lead to obesity, which causes insulin resistance and is common in people with type 2 diabetes.”

Many common cooking spices may contain bug parts, rodent hairs

 Hiding inside your pepper grinder and cumin shaker could be things like rodent hairs, bug parts and even salmonella, claims a new report recently put out by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Entitled “Pathogens and Filth in Spices,” the report alleges that up to 12 percent of all U.S. spice imports may contain hidden insect filth, while up to 7 percent may contain bacterial contaminants, an obvious push by the agency to further legitimize irradiating cooking spices.

According to CNN, the agency decided to launch an investigation into the contents of imported cooking spices as part of a general assessment of their safety risks. The agency itself says the endeavor was hatched in response to growing concerns about the effectiveness of current safety control measures for spices. But based on the findings of the report, spices are generally safe and pose a minimal risk to human health.

Nevertheless, the FDA is convinced that spices may be dangerous, categorizing them as a “systemic challenge” due to the fact that they generally contain about twice as much “filth” as other kinds of imported food. And yet, based on 37 years’ worth of records looked at by the agency, there have only been 14 outbreaks ever in the entire world that have been linked to spices or seasonings, resulting in fewer than 2,000 human illnesses and 128 hospitalizations.

“We would agree ready-to-eat spices should be clean and meet FDA standards and be pathogen-free,” stated Cheryl Deem, Executive Director of the American Spice Trade Association, to CNN about the findings. “We did find it really interesting that the FDA said they were going to use this report to develop a plan to reduce illness, but if you look at the data we don’t think that’s a significant problem. That’s a small number of illnesses.”

FDA report fails to distinguish between ready-to-eat and raw spices

Despite its thorough analysis on imported spices, the FDA apparently failed to distinguish in test results whether or not the spices it looked at were in “ready-to-eat” form or in raw form. Ready-to-eat spices have already been cleaned overseas prior to import, while raw spices may still need to processed. It is typically raw spices from non-organic sources that contain the most “filth,” a fact that the FDA should have addressed in its report.

It may seem curious that the FDA appears to have made a mountain out of a molehill concerning spice safety, that is until you consider the fact that the FDA has been trying to amass more control over the food supply for years. Even in its new report, the FDA admits that the agency’s goal is to utilize more of the provisions outlined in the Food Safety Modernization Act, the infamous regulatory overhaul that harmonizes American law with the international Codex Alimentarius food code.

“This is an example of non-experts trying to start a commotion with consumers,” writes oneCNN commenter who claims to have previously worked in the spice industry. “The field insects are mostly of the garden variety and harmless coming from the field where crops are grown…. Welcome to your world people insects are everywhere.”

What are the healthiest cooking oils?

 The average consumer today is spoiled for choice when it comes to cooking oils. Most stores (including health food stores) in the West tend to be packed with oils of various colors, tastes and origins, and it can be difficult to distinguish the healthy ones from the unhealthy ones.

The most important factor to bear in mind when choosing oils is not just whether an oil is safe and nutritious in its unprocessed state, but also whether it remains safe and nutritious after exposure to high temperatures. Unfortunately, many oils — including otherwise healthy oils, such as fish oil and flax oil — are high in polyunsaturated fats, which have a limited resistance to oxidation and rancidification, and can produce cancer-causing free radicals when heated.

However, oils that are high in saturated and monounsaturated fats tend to be both nutritious and highly resistant to heating, making them excellent choices for cooking. The best of these healthy oils are listed below.

Coconut oil

There are many reasons why natural health experts consider coconut oil the king of cooking oils. Aside from being one of the stablest oils at high temperatures (approximately 90 percent of its fatty acids are saturated), coconut oil is rich in lauric acid, an especially beneficial fat with proven antimicrobial, antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties.

Moreover, a study published in the journal Lipids discovered that consuming just 1 ounce of coconut oil daily could help trigger weight loss. Significantly, coconut oil seems to be especially effective at removing abdominal or “visceral” fat, which is the really nasty fat that clings to our internal organs and contributes to high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

The healthiest type of coconut oil is raw, extra-virgin coconut oil — the kind that actually smells of coconuts. Refined coconut oil is usually bleached or deodorized, and though it still remains stable when heated, it tends to contain a compromised nutrient profile.

Olive oil

A staple in the Mediterranean diet, extra-virgin olive oil is one of the world’s healthiest oils and has been linked to numerous health benefits. For example, a review featured in Nutricion Hospitalaria shows that one of the main fatty acids in olive oil, oleic acid, possessed considerable anti-inflammatory properties. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences also showed that oleic acid is responsible for olive oil’s well-known ability to reduce blood pressure.

However, doesn’t olive oil become toxic when exposed to heat? Actually, this common misconception, which is widely pushed by the mainstream media, has been disproved by several studies. Research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistryfound that olive oil, which is comprised of approximately 75 percent monounsaturated fat, remains fairly stable at low to medium-heat temperatures and is perfectly safe for cooking.

Other healthy oils

Other healthy oils that remain healthy when heated include palm oil, sesame seed oil, avocado oil and macadamia oil (though macadamia oil should only be used for low- or medium-heat cooking). While not strictly oils, animal products like butter, ghee and lard are also superb cooking aids that have been part of our natural diet for centuries.

Cook these six vegetables for even greater health benefits

 A Study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that people who followed a strictly raw food diet had normal levels of vitamin A and beta-carotene, but low levels of the antioxidant lycopene. As reported by Scientific American, high lycopene levels have been associated with a lower risk of cancer and heart attacks. According to Rui Hai Liu, an associate professor of food science at Cornell University, lycopene may be an even more potent antioxidant than vitamin C.

It seems that some vegetables need a little heat to release their plant goodness. Most plants have a tough cellular structure. Lightly cooking these food makes it easier for the body to break down the plant’s thick cell walls, making nutrients more available for absorption.

Read on to discover six foods that are healthier cooked.

1. Asparagus

Lightly cooking asparagus spears makes it easier for the body to absorb cancer-fighting vitamins such as vitamin A, C and E, as well as folate. Furthermore, higher levels of antioxidants, ferulic acid in particular, have been reported when this vegetable is cooked.

2. Carrots

Beta-carotene is the compound that gives carrots their vibrant orange color. The body converts beta-carotene to vitamin A, which is vital for vision, reproduction, bone growth and immune health.

Carrots, however, are sturdy vegetables and don’t give up their nutrients that quickly. To get the most out of your carrots, Researchers at the University of Arkansas advise that higher levels of beta-carotene are obtained when carrots are cooked.

3. Mushrooms

According to Andrew Weil, M.D., mushrooms are indigestible when they are uncooked. He said that thoroughly heating them releases the nutrients they contain, including B vitamins, proteins and minerals, as well as compounds not found in other foods.

4. Pumpkin and other winter squash

Not many people will eat raw pumpkin, unless it is put through a juicer, and that is just fine, since cooked pumpkin has been shown to be more nutritious. Just like carrots, pumpkins need a little heat to break down tougher cell walls and release their plant goodness.

5. Spinach

Folate, vitamin C, niacin, riboflavin and potassium are more available in raw spinach. However, slightly cooking spinach increases the levels of vitamin A and E, fiber, zinc, thiamin, calcium, iron and protein – as well as essential carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin.

6. Tomatoes

While cooking tomatoes reduces vitamin C levels, it also makes lycopene more available to the body. As mentioned earlier, lycopene has been linked to a lower risk of cancer and heart attacks. Vitamin C is an abundant vitamin, so it is well worth the loss.

As you can see, raw isn’t necessarily always best. However, if you love tomato or spinach salads and can’t stand them cooked, that doesn’t mean you should stop eating them raw. Whether you enjoy your veggies raw or cooked, the most important thing is that you are eating them in the first place.