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What’s the Difference?

Not All Oils are Created Equal

All oils have nine calories per gram, but their unique fat composition affects the body in different ways. Polyunsaturated fat, for example, is the easiest for the body to metabolize, whereas saturated fat may raise the level of cholesterol in the bloodstream. Each type of oil contains a diverse combination of ratios or proportions of “good fats” (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) and “bad fats” (saturated fat).

The exception is partially or fully hydrogenated vegetable shortening and many margarines, which also contain trans fats (a man-made fat and the most unhealthy of all fats often found in baked goods, snacks, crackers, chips, doughnuts and fast foods).

The predominant type of fat in oil determines how oil is categorized. For instance, olive, canola and peanut oils are considered monounsaturated oils because their primary component is monounsaturated fat. Conversely, safflower, sunflower, corn, flaxseed and soybean oils are polyunsaturated oils because they are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids. See chart below for fat breakdown.
 

Fatty Acid and Cholesterol Composition of Some Common Fats

 

Dietary

Saturated

Monounsaturated

Polyunsaturated

Cholesterol

Fat

g/Tbsp

g/Tbsp

g/Tbsp

mg/Tbsp

Canola Oil

1

8.2

4.1

0

Safflower Oil

1.2

1.6

10.1

0

Sunflower Oil

1.4

2.7

8.9

0

Corn Oil

1.l7

3.3

8

0

Olive Oil

1.8

9.9

1.1

0

Sesame Oil

1.9

5.4

5.7

0

Soybean Oil

2

3.2

7.9

0

Peanut Oil

2.3

6.2

4.3

0

Vegetable Shortening

3.2

5.7

3.3

0

Chicken Fat

3.8

5.7

2.7

11

Lard

5

5.8

1.4

12

Beef Tallow

6.4

5.3

0.5

14

Palm Oil

6.7

5

1.3

0

Butter

7.1

3.4

0.6

31

Palm Kernel Oil

11.1

1.5

0.2

0

Coconut Oil

11.8

0.8

0.2

0

Source: Composition of Foods. Fats and Oils. AH No. 8-4. U.S.D.A.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids are vital in vegetarian diets as they are the source of essential fatty acids (EFAs) omega-6 and omega-3, which the body cannot manufacture and therefore must obtain through foods such as flax seed oil.

Cold-pressed or expeller-pressed, unrefined and unfiltered oils are expensive to produce and therefore cost consumers more. However, these minimally Amira Elganprocessed oils are rich in vitamins and antioxidants providing not only the highest quality dietary fats in vegetable oils but also tremendous health benefits.

Likewise, choosing organically produced oil adds to its cost because it is free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), chemical herbicides, fumigants, synthetic fertilizers and unapproved pesticides.

In contrast, conventionally produced oils involve chemical solvents, some of which can promote cancer. The link with cancer is not declared on labels because the chemicals are not present in “significant” quantities, which would otherwise require disclosure by law. My own view is that, as these chemicals accumulate over time in the body, they’re never too small or insignificant when consumed. Any amount is both unnecessary and potentially harmful in the long term.

Furthermore, the process of refining oils involves nutrient-destroying high temperatures and non-organic oils tend to contain unhealthful additives and preservatives.

It’s scary to learn about non-organic, unhealthful oils. But eliminating fat is not the answer. Fat is necessary for the body to function properly. We need only to be selective about the type of fat we eat and reduce the quantity of fats in our diets.

Buying expensive oil that has been organically produced, barely processed, and unrefined is an investment in your health. Look at it this way: By buying higher quality, more expensive oil and eating less of it, you’ll actually save money and be healthier at the same time.

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Good Things In Store

Over the years I’ve tried many organic soy yogurts and have always been disappointed by the taste. But this week, I discovered a spectacularly delicious product called Wildwood Blue Moon Blueberry Soyogurt. If you’re a yogurt fan, make sure you ask for this brand next time you’re at the local health food store.



Click on the picture for nutrition facts

Blue Moon Blueberry SoYogurt by Wildwood is the best organic soy yogurt I have ever tried (blueberries are great for your memory) made with wholesome organic ingredients. Their peach yogurt is excellent too and they also make other flavors such as strawberry, raspberry, vanilla and a no flavor one, which they call “pleasantly plain,” though I haven’t tried them yet.


Reader Q&A 

Q: Hi Amira-- I'm a new subscriber to your newsletter. I've been receiving it for about a month. I'm especially enjoying the recipes and your gentle manner. Here's my simple question--why do you write and send this newsletter? What is your reason for doing so? (I do lots of work for which I don't get paid money, so please accept this question in a spirit of genuine curiosity.)
CS, West Orange, NJ

PS: I forwarded your newsletter to a friend this morning who is new to the veggie way of eating but very spiritual. She's very excited about the idea of Buddha food, and is planning a party menu around this idea.

A: The Vegetarian Organic Life newsletter enables me to do for thousands of people what I have been able to do for dozens of friends, relatives and co-workers over the years, which is to teach them how to live healthier lives.

There is so much misinformation out there, and the public is genuinely confused about how to buy and prepare healthy food.

Too many adults, children and adolescents have become victims of the pandemic chronic illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity responsible for killing millions of people worldwide each year. Most of these early, painful illnesses were the totally preventable consequences of a lifetime of eating toxic, nutrition-poor food and failing to get regular exercise.

These pandemics are so widespread, so devastating and so easily preventable.

Our statistics speak for themselves, we lose far more victims to heart disease and cancer than to all natural disasters combined. We become scandalized when we hear media reports about, say, the 15,000 people who lost their lives as a result of the heat wave in France recently. Our outrage about such deaths is certainly appropriate and justified because early death is always sad and awful no matter how it happens.

But we should be even more scandalized by the one million people who die of cardiovascular disease in the U.S. each year. We need to realize the magnitude of these ever menacing horrible diseases aggravated and often resulting from our poor eating habits and lack of exercise. These lifestyle illnesses lurk around us waiting to take over our bodies when we least expect it.

The main culprit is all the food laden with saturated fat, cholesterol, additives and overly processed ingredients which are damaging to our bodies and displace other nutrient rich food necessary for the body to function well. And of course, living an inactive life style exacerbates the effects of such poor diet.

I always feel a great deal of sadness for all the suffering many endure; those who battle with disease and the family of those victims. It’s truly tragic and emotionally overwhelming for all involved. I’ve seen it too close for comfort. By sharing my passion for life and health, my hope is to make a difference -- even a small one -- in the lives of as many people as I can.


Words of Wisdom

The place to be happy is here, the time to be happy is now.”

Robert Ingersoll

Vegetarian Organic Recipe of the Week


Click on the picture for a closer look!

Tangy Cabbage and Tomato Relish (vegan)
Serves 4

This tasty relish is lemony and rich in vitamin C. It goes particularly well with any Mexican or Latin meals enhancing the flavors of these spicy cuisines. Try it with my Seitan Fajitas recipe on the August 28 issue or with the recipe from last week.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Get ingredients ready: (use organic ingredients if possible)
2 cups shredded green cabbage
1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
⅓ cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon habanero pepper sauce or similar (more for more spiciness)
⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Sea salt

In a large glass or ceramic bowl combine cabbage and tomatoes. Add lemon juice, hot habanero sauce, black pepper and salt to taste mixing thoroughly. Leftovers will keep for up to 3 days.

Cook’s tip: This relish may be made early in the day or the day before.


 

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This newsletter is not intended to provide and replace medical advice. The author and editor expressly disclaim all responsibility for any adverse effects resulting from any information, diet or exercise suggestions. It is imperative that the advice of a physician is sought before any diet or exercise programs are adopted.

Copyright© 2003 Amira Elgan. All Rights Reserved.