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Coconut Sugar & Sucanat

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I recently got the question, "What do you think about unrefined coconut sugar? or sucanat?"

I thought I should share my answer with everyone in case there are others wondering the same thing.

Sucanat is made from sugar cane.  It is dried sugar can juice.  Coconut sugar is made from the coconut palm sap.

Sucanat and coconut sugar are both extracts from plants. The plants are juiced and then the juice is heated and dried. Thus these are not whole foods, and some of the nutrition is destroyed in the heating and drying process.  The coconut sugar appears to be superior to the sucanat in that it contains more macro and micro nutrients.

It is true that they are far superior to regular processed sugars, for they do contain some nutrients and they are much less processed.   Therefore, if you must add sweetener to something these are much better choices than regular sugar, or artificial sweeteners.

I personally prefer to use raw honey when I feel the need to sweeten something.  Raw honey hasn't been heated above body temperature, and so still has live enzymes and other beneficial nutrients that help to build health.

However if you are going to cook or heat something and must have added sweetener, stevia is a good substitute.  Also the coconut sugar actually works well with higher temperatures.

The problem as I see it is that we really have to get away from this idea that we need to add sweetener to everything.

For instance if you are making a smoothie (whether fruit or veggie) there is already plenty of sweetness in it just from the raw natural foods. Adding more sweetener upsets the natural balance and only serves to increase cravings for other sweet things. This (the cravings), of course, can lead to destroying any healthy diet.

In the long run you are much better off to avoid adding sweeteners other than whole foods.  Once the sweet tooth fades, you will really enjoy the wonderful variety of tastes that come from real food.

Last Updated on Thursday, 16 December 2010 23:55
 

Essential Oils : Aromatherapy

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The recent discussion on fatty acids talked about what fats or oils may or may not be essential to human nutrition.  The term "essential oils" used there is an entirely different thing than the "essential oils" use for aromatherapy.

But having been asked my opinion on this subject, here is my response.

The so called "essential oils" used in aromatherapy are neither essential, nor oils.  The word essential is used to refer to the essence, or fragrance of the plants that these products are made from.  These aromatic products are created by distillation of parts of plants.  Then the distilled result is put into various oils to put the product into such a form so that it can be used easily.

Most people assume that essential oils are oils pressed from the plants, but it just isn't so.

The distillation process may have used water, alcohol, or a number of other chemicals.  Many people are exposed to chemical toxins through the use of essential oils.

These are highly processed and concentrated formulas.  They are drugs that must be used very carefully, if used at all.

In my opinion only people who have carefully studied all the cautions and side effects of these products should use them.  Because they are highly concentrated, it is very easy to use too much and cause more problems than you are supposedly solving.  If you decide to use these products it is very important to find out just what processes were used to create the particular product you want to use, so that you can avoid chemical toxins that may be harmful to you.

While aromatherapy has been used by many, with claims of great effect.  There isn't very much science to actually back it up.

One problem is that smells are one of the strongest ways of activating memory.  But depending on your particular memories, you may have a completely different reaction to a smell than someone else.  It is highly individualized, so you can't use an essential oil that someone else used and expect it to have the same effect on you as it had on them.

Another problem is that some of these highly concentrated substances, actually do cause physical reactions.  For instance some aromatherapy is suggested to relieve headaches because it physically expands the blood vessels in the area where the oil is used on the skin.  But headaches occur for many different reasons, and although expanding the blood vessels may release pressure, it doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the actual cause of the headache.  And it can in fact make some headaches worse.

I know that there are people who use essential oils regularly and love them.  I'm just saying that if you decide to use them recognize them for what they are, and use all necessary precautions.  Do your research well on the particular oil you want to use, and make sure you know the safe ways to use it.  How should it be diluted?  When is it safe to contact your skin? etc.

A healthy lifestyle will always be a better choice in the long run, than concentrating substances to cause reactions in the body.

If the smell of peppermint helps to relax you, then grow some in your garden and throw a few sprigs of it into your bath water when you want to relax.  There is no reason to buy concentrated substances that may contain dangerous chemicals, in my opinion.

Last Updated on Monday, 06 December 2010 15:18
 

If Not Omega-3s, Then What?

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If you read the article "Omega-3 : Miracle Or Monster?" you may have asked, "If I should not use Omega-3 oils to counter the effects of the Omega-6 oils in my diet, then what should I use?"

If you didn't read it yet, go read it now, then come back here. We'll wait.

The answer to the above question is "polyphenols".  And, of course, you should cut the overuse of Omega-6 oils.  Stop the use of all corn, soy, cottonseed, canola, safflower, sunflower, and peanut oils, or products that have them added in.  Use only olive oil or coconut oils, if you must use oils for anything.  Coconut oil for cooking, and olive oil for salad dressing.

Polyphenols are substances found in most plants.  They are sometimes called just phenols or phenolics.  They are also referred to as phytochemcials or biomolecules.  Polyphenols are anti-inflammatory and seem to directly counter the negative effects of Omega-6 oils (vegetables oils).  Polyphenols have also shown themselves to be antioxidant, antimicrobial, antiviral, and antimutagenic.  They apparently even help to fight dental problems.

So, where do you get polyphenols and how should you take them?

They are found in abundance in berries, grapes, olive oil, cocoa, walnuts, peanuts, acai, pomegranates, yerba mate, and many other fruits and vegetables.  It has been found that broccoli retains the antioxidant properties of its phenolic compounds much better when steamed than when boiled.

Another good reason to eat fresh and steamed vegetables very often.  Spinach, kale, and other leafy vegetables are particularly great sources of polyphenols.

Interestingly enough butter and raw milk also help in fighting off the negative effects of the unsaturated oils.  In fact the more healthy saturated fats used, the better the body can tolerate the omega-6 oils.

If you have a diet high in omega-6 fats, (which most people do) you would most likely do much better if you ate plenty of high quality saturated fats (like coconut oil) and fresh or steamed vegetables (particularly leafy greens).

 

Last Updated on Monday, 29 November 2010 17:26
 


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