Sunday, August 25, 2013

Grapeseed Oil

Denise sent in a great question about grapeseed oil: is it a healthy choice?

Grapeseed oil is fairly new on our cooking oil radar in the United States. The seeds of wine grapes are pressed and the oils extracted, producing a very mild tasting oil with a clean flavor, lending itself easily to dishes where no competing flavors are wanted. Most of our grapeseed oil is imported from France and Switzerland.

Grapeseed oil has a medium-high smoking point, making it a good choice for baking, oven cooking, or stir frying at a medium-high heat. However, when heated too high, it begins to smoke, causing it to become inedible. At this point, free radicals begin to form with their cancer-causing potential. 

Canola, olive, peanut, and grapeseed oils all have similar smoking points, and are rich in heart healthy unsaturated fats, which includes both poly-unsaturated and mono-unsaturated fats. Poly-unsaturated fats are considered heart health when used to replace saturated or trans-fats. Used in this way, grapeseed oil and other unsaturated fats can increase HDL, decrease LDL, and can reduce the risk of developing heart disease.

Oil% Mono% Poly% SatNutrition Notes
Canola62317Contains low levels of omega-3
Grapeseed177310High in omega-6
Macadamia nut84313Bold flavor
Extra virgin olive78814Best-pick oil
Peanut483418Great for stir frying

However, grapeseed oil is high in omega-6 fatty acids. Is that a concern?

Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are both essential; the human body cannot make them and must be obtained from food. These fats are necessary for brain function and for normal growth and development, including healthy hair, bone, metabolism, and reproduction.

  • Omega-3 fatty acids suggest protective against heart disease, stroke, inflammation, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, autoimmune diseases, and perhaps some types of cancer. 
  • Omega-6 fatty acids. Newer studies suggest may lower LDL, inflammation, and promote heart health. Other studies indicate that higher intakes may narrow blood vessels and increase inflammation. Safflower, corn, cottonseed, and soybean oils are rich sources. Most people in the U.S. consume high levels of these oils.

The nutritional advice used to be to balance the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids at at least a 2:1 ratio. Eat more omega-3's than omega-6's. More resent research suggest that both omega's have a positive impact on health so the focus on more omega 3's to 6's may be unwarranted. 

Keep olive oil in its easy to access place with its rich source of monounsaturated fats. When you need a mild flavored oil, you could try grapeseed or simply use canola. It's a great source of mono-unsaturated fats and even has some omega-3 fatty acids sprinkled in. 

I say, go ahead and experiment with grapeseed oil! Priced similarly to olive oil, you may just find it fun new oil to use occasionally in different dishes. It may just find a spot next to my favorite toasted sesame oil, walnut oil, avocado oil, and white truffle olive oil...

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Get Back In the Game

A Bit of Joy
Maybe it's this cool August weather. Or the phase of the moon. Or maybe it's the return of the Hostess Twinkies. Or maybe not.

In any case, many people of my weight loss folks (coachees?)have been struggling with with their food choices lately. They want help getting refocused and back on track. This is a tough one for many of us who get fed up with our own "screw ups," decide there isn't any hope of success, and end up diving into that bag of chips or cookies. Is that you? You're not alone.

The first step is to STOP. Stop thinking about what you just ate. Stop beating yourself up. Let it go. Not one of us is perfect; not one of us make the best choices all the time. Let go of that "all-or-nothing" thinking.

Next, LOOK. Simply observe, without judgment, what just happened. Yep, it happened. I ate it. But, it's over.The action was neither bad nor good. Eating what you did simply was. Write it all down or don't---whatever helps you the most.

Now, ACT! Turn it around. Choose one positive action, one simple step that is part of your healthy living plan. You could drink a glass of water, eat some cherry tomatoes, take a 10 minute walk, write in your journal, or spend that time doing something that brings you joy (besides chocolate!) As soon as you take that positive action, the next step in that same positive direction is easier. Plan to take another positive step in the next 30 minutes. 

It's all about loving yourself enough to work on taking a different, healthier path. When we find ourselves veering off the road, we need to redirect our wheels. But, each time we correct our wheels, the better we get at staying on the road. No, it's not easy, but you and I are worth everything it takes to travel that path toward better health.  

My joy of the day: buying a $5 bouquet of flowers at the farmer's market this morning, all for myself!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A Pain in My Foot

The Miracle: frozen tomato paste can
It's been 6 weeks. Six long weeks. Toward the end of that 5K race, sharp shooting pain started spreading through my left foot. So painful that walking to the car afterward was challenging.

Yep. I knew what it was. I had it the first time 25 years ago when I was teaching multiple high-impact aerobics classes most every day. Overuse brought on my first case of plantar fasciitis, but other stressors such as poor foot or arch support, obesity, age, improper muscle balance, or overly tight leg muscles can all be culprits.

You need to be mindful of your feet. The sooner you start treatment, the faster it heals. Dull or shooting pain and stiffness in the bottom of the foot, arch, and heel that doesn't go away is commonly plantar fasciitis.  In these cases, the soft connective tissue in the bottom of the foot become inflamed and painful. If foot pain is new to you or feels extreme, be sure to consult your doctor to determine the right treatment for you.

Since I'd had it before, I started with home therapy as soon as I got home from that race. I grabbed an ice pack and ibuprofen, reclined on the sofa, elevated my foot and iced it. Getting off that foot was the first step. I was on the sofa or hobbling around the rest of the day. Not fun.

  1. Rest. This part was the hardest. I had to stop walking and modify my yoga to give my foot time to heal. Knowing I wasn't ready to walk in that last 5K was really tough. It's not much fun to be forced to stay and watch from the sidelines!
  2. Ice. At first, I just iced my arch and heel with a frozen water bottle or ice pack. Then,  I discovered freezing a tomato paste can and rolling it under my foot was the ultimate anti-inflammation treatment for me. It works perfectly!
  3. Stretch the fascia.
    1. Stand close to a wall with the toes up on the wall and heels flat. This one was too hard to even attempt at first.
    2. Yoga's child pose with my toes bent under my foot worked well after the initial pain subsided.
    3. Roll the bottom of your foot on a tennis ball, golf ball, or a dryer ball. The golf ball worked great to work out the knots in my heel. You can even freeze your golf ball.
    4. New sneaks and arch supports
    5. Stretch calf muscles.
  4. Massage. It was incredible how much it helped when I had my massage therapist work on all that inflamed tissue! Thanks, Rebecca!
  5. DON'T GO BAREFOOT! I put my shoes on before I get out of bed.
  6. Good foot support. I've been attentive to good foot support since my first time. I faithfully replace my running shoes every 6 months and use arch supports. But, after 2 weeks of pain, I headed to Playmakers, our local athletic shoe specialist, and asked for some extra help. My $250 investment in my foot health included:
    1. New running shoes
    2. Arch supports with heel cups for my running shoes and dress shoes (I didn't know you need to replace the arch supports often, too, and mine were really old. Oops.)
    3. Great arch supports are critical!
    4. Sandals by Orthaheel. I'm totally hooked. Their arch support is so amazing that I bought two pairs. They are so comfy that my aunt tried mine on and immediately bought herself a pair online (highlighted at right!)
I'm happy to report that I had my first day "foot-pain free" this weekend! I know it's not finished healing yet. I can feel fatigue and dull aches later in the day when I overdo it. But, I'm getting there. Finally. I'll continue to be diligent with my treatment plan, but I know I'll be back to my 3 mile walks at some point, even though I know that full recovery can take up to a year! And now, I'll simply focus on walking 1/2 a mile without pain...

Sunday, August 4, 2013

A Little Road Trip

I just decided to go. I packed a small suitcase and grabbed my phone, laptop, a few healthy snacks, and filled the car with gas. Then, off I went.

My 5 day solo car trip this week took me over 3 states to see family and friends, many of whom I hadn't seen for 3 years or more.  Since my husband's time was pretty well booked with work, it seemed like a little fun and adventure just for me. Even if our poor dog didn't approve of my absence. 

I've learned the hard way that traveling can be packed full of hazardous pot holes for a healthy lifestyle, so I used a few of my tried and true strategies to help me along the way:
  • Sandwich bags filled with slices of cucumber, carrots, zucchini, and cherry tomatoes went into the insulated lunch bag that sat right next to me to help with those random munchies that always seem to hit while driving. That's in place of those darn Peanut M&M's I used to reach for many years ago.
  • A case of bottled water and individual serving cans of V-8 went in the trunk for back up veggies and fluids.
  • Since my neck, shoulders and back can give me a little grief, I always bring neck and lumbar pillows and my tennis balls.  I also use 2 tennis balls tied in a sock to provide light pressure on tight muscles and sore spots. Cheap and effective.
  • Sugar-free gum's a must for staying alert. This time, I grabbed a few Tootsie Roll pops which are one of my husband's favorite for traveling. Those 50 calories really do last a long time.
  • I tend to sip on lots of water, tea, and coffee, so hydration is not a problem like it is for many people.  The added benefit of all that fluid is that I HAVE to stop frequently, which gets me stretching and moving those muscles!
  • I've always loved making a list of all the different license plates I see on road trips. Since I was alone this time, I tried to challenge my brain by trying to remember each new one until I stopped and could write it down. Much harder for me!
  • While eating out, I concentrated on conversation, eating slowly, enjoying each bite, and stopping when I was full. It's wonderfully freeing focus instead of constantly berated yourself for making less healthy choices.
  • I gave out plenty of hugs, which as we know, are the perfect way to make you feel good and lighten your mood.
  • I tried to get plenty of sleep even though that didn't work out every night!
  • This time, I didn't worry about exercise since I've been trying to give a nasty case of plantar fasciitis time to heal. I can honestly say that my foot feels much better at this point.
Though I'm tired, I'm also refreshed by my time reconnecting with family and rekindling old friendships, which give me a great source of joy. I find it amazing how we can pick up just where we left off and treasure memories.