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The Fish – 白鱚 (しろぎす)

Coconut Oil – What Is It All About?

Jackie Newgent, a registered dietitian wrote in Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics ……

Extra-virgin olive oil consistently tops the list in popularity when it comes to culinary oils. But these days coconut oil seems to be stealing the spotlight. Health claims abound around this tropical oil, but so does controversy. So what is it all about? Here are some facts about coconut oil.

Where Does Coconut Oil Come From?

There are two main types of coconut oil that you can use in cooking and baking: Virgin and refined.

“Virgin” coconut oil is extracted from the fruit of fresh mature coconuts without using high temperatures or chemicals; it’s considered unrefined.

“Refined” coconut oil is made from dried coconut meat that’s often chemically bleached and deodorized.

Some food manufacturers may use yet another form of coconut oil that’s further processed: partially hydrogenated coconut oil.

Nutritional Properties of Coconut Oil

The coconut oil that you’ll find on supermarket shelves, whether virgin or refined, is high in saturated fat — more so than butter. In fact, it’s considered a solid fat. One tablespoon of coconut oil provides 117 calories, 13.6g total fat (11.8g saturated fat, 0.8g monounsaturated fat, 0.2g polyunsaturated fat), no protein or carbohydrates, and trace amounts of iron and vitamins E and K. Like all other plant-based oils, it doesn’t contain cholesterol. With the exception of palm kernel oil, all other common culinary oils, including canola, corn, safflower, sunflower, soybean, flaxseed, grapeseed and extra-virgin olive oil, contain significantly less saturated fat than coconut oil. On a positive note, coconut oil, specifically virgin coconut oil, has some antioxidant properties, potentially because of plant nutrients called phenolic compounds.

What about partially hydrogenated coconut oil? Be cautious of processed food products, such as commercial baked goods, that contain this type of the oil. The further processing of coconut oil transforms some of the unsaturated fats into trans fats.

Is it Healthy or Unhealthy?

There’s a lot of health “hype” surrounding coconut oil. These claims tout the benefits of coconut oil for everything from weight loss to Alzheimer’s disease. The truth is that there isn’t yet enough scientific evidence to support all of these claims about coconut oil’s potential health benefits.

When it comes to fats, most of what you eat should be monounsaturated or polyunsaturated, like you find in nuts, seeds and avocados. The American Heart Association recommends limiting the amount of saturated fats in your diet to less than seven percent of your total daily calories and limiting trans fat intake to less than 1 percent of total daily calories. These guidelines have been established because saturated fats, in general, and trans fats are associated with increased total cholesterol and low density lipoprotein (LDL) “bad” cholesterol, as well as increased risk of coronary artery disease.

However, virgin coconut oil is high in lauric acid, which is a saturated fat that’s classified as a medium-chain fatty acid; it can raise both “bad” and “good” cholesterol levels. And there’s some preliminary evidence — including both animal and human studies — suggesting that coconut oil intake may be associated with a neutral, if not beneficial, effect on cholesterol levels.

The bottom line? Skip food products that contain partially hydrogenated coconut oil. Choose virgin coconut oil and use it in moderation. Despite emerging research, the recommendation is still to limit your total saturated fat intake.

Cooking with Coconut Oil

Virgin (or unrefined) coconut oil has a very light, sweet-nutty coconut flavor and aroma. It’s ideal for baking or medium-heat sautéing — up to about 350°F. It’s a good culinary choice when preparing curries or other dishes that benefit from a slight tropical flavor.

Refined coconut oil is basically tasteless. It can be used for baking or for medium-high heat sautéing or stir-frying — up to about 425°F. It’s an option when you need a cooking fat with a neutral flavor.

Though high in saturated fat, virgin coconut oil doesn’t contain trans fat, making it a better choice than trans fat-containing shortening. And for vegans or strict vegetarians, coconut oil offers a plant-based replacement for butter that stands up well in baking or sautéing.

Like other oils, coconut oil should be stored well sealed and in a cool, dark place. It solidifies when too cool, but quickly liquefies when warmed up.

Source: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Breaking A Sweat While Exercising Regularly May Help Reduce Stroke Risk

Breaking a sweat while working out regularly may reduce your risk of stroke, according to new research in the American Heart Association journal Stroke.

In a study of more than 27,000 Americans, 45 years and older who were followed for an average of 5.7 years, researchers found:

  • One-third of participants reported being inactive, exercising less than once a week.
  • Inactive people were 20 percent more likely to experience a stroke or mini-stroke than those who exercised at moderate to vigorous intensity (enough to break a sweat) at least four times a week.
  • Among men, only those who exercised at moderate or vigorous intensity four or more times a week had a lowered stroke risk.
  • Among women, the relationship between stroke and frequency of activity was less clear.

“The stroke-lowering benefits of physical activity are related to its impact on other risk factors,” said Michelle McDonnell, Ph.D., study author and Lecturer in the School of Health Sciences at the International Centre for Allied Health Evidence, University of South Australia. “Exercise reduces blood pressure, weight and diabetes. If exercise was a pill, you’d be taking one pill to treat four or five different conditions.”

The study — the first to quantify protective effects of physical activity on stroke in a large multiracial group of men and women in the United States — supports previous findings that physical inactivity is second only to high blood pressure as a risk factor for stroke.

Study participants were part of the Reasons for Geographic and Ethnic Differences in Stroke (the REGARDS study). They were divided relatively equally between black and white and male and female, with more people from the “Stroke Belt” states in the southeast. The stroke belt is an area of the country where strokes are more common (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia).

The study included self-reported data on the frequency of exercise, but not how long people were physically active each day.

“We can tell you how much your stroke risk improves for each cigarette you cut out or every point you reduce your blood pressure, but we still need good studies on the amount you can reduce your risk of stroke by taking up exercise,” McDonnell said.

McDonnell also noted that the weak relationship with physical activity and women observed in this study may be because women can get the benefit with less vigorous exercise such as walking, which was not the focus of this analysis.

The American Heart Association recommends healthy adults (ages 18-65) get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity at least five days a week, or at least 20 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity at least three days a week, for a total of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity. Adults should also get at least two days a week of muscle-strengthening activities that involve all the major muscle groups.

Source: American Heart Association

Chinese-style Stewed Pork

Ingredients

500 g pork belly, cut into bite-size piece
500g daikon, peeled and cut into chunks
1 piece dried kelp
2 stalks green onion, cut into sections
3 slices ginger

Sauce

2 tbsp cooking wine
1/4 cup dark soy sauce
2 tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
2 cups water

Method

  1. Soak kelp with water. Rinse and drain. Cut into small pieces with scissors.
  2. Place daikon in the bottom of a pot. Layer pork, kelp, green onion and ginger on top. Add sauce ingredients. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes until the pork is tender. Serve hot.

Source: Hong Kong magazine

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