Extra Virgin Olive Oil Keeps Healthy Properties When Used for Cooking

Consuming extra virgin olive oil has proved to have protecting effects for the health, especially due to its antioxidant content. However, there are not many studies on whether it is the best oil to use when cooking. A study by the University of Barcelona stated this kind of oil keeps the levels of antioxidants -regarded as health- when used for cooking, a common technique in the Mediterranean cuisine. These results could be relevant for future recommendations or nutritional guidelines.

The study, published by the journal Antioxidants, counts on the participation of a team of researchers from the Faculty of Pharmacy and Food Sciences of the UB, the Physiopathology of Obesity and Nutrition Networking Biomedical Research Centre (CIBERobn) and the University of São Paulo.

Simulation of cooking conditions in a domestic kitchen

Extra virgin olive oil is the main source of fat of the Mediterranean diet and shows a unique composition of fatty acids with a higher content of antioxidants than other edible oils. Its benefits for the health are mainly linked to these compounds, named polyphenols. “The effects of cooking on these polyphenols of oil have always been studied in a laboratory or industrial situation, which is far from the reality of our homes”, says Rosa M. Lamuela, director of the Institute in Research on Nutrition and Food Safety (INSA-UB).

For this study, however, researchers simulated the cooking conditions of a domestic kitchen. The aim was to see how the homemade sauté affects the polyphenols of extra virgin olive oil. Researchers studied the effects of time -during a short and a long period of time- and temperature -at 120ºC and 170ºC- in the degradation of the antioxidants.

Results show that during the cooking process, the content of polyphenols decreased by 40% to 120ºC and by 75% at 170ºC, compared to the levels of antioxidants in raw oil. Moreover, the cooking time had an effect on individual phenols, such as hydroxytyrosol, but not on the total content of the phenol. As a whole, the levels of antioxidants keep fulfilling the parameters stated as healthy by the European Union: “Despite the decrease in concentration of polyphenols during the cooking process, this oil has a polyphenol level that reaches the declaration of health in accordance to the European regulation, which means it has properties that protect oxidation of LDL cholesterol particles”, notes Julián Lozano, first signer of the publication, which is also part of his doctoral thesis.

Olive oil in Mediterranean cuisine

The Mediterranean diet, known for a high use of phytochemicals from vegetables, fruits and legumes, has been correlated to improvements in cardiovascular and metabolic health. This link is based on the results of the PREDIMED study, a multicenter clinical study conducted from 2003 to 2011 with more than 7,000 people, in which Rosa M. Lamuela took part as well.

However, the effects on health in the Mediterranean diet have been hard to reproduce in non-Mediterranean populations. According to the researchers, this fact could occur due to, probably, differences in cooking practices. In this context, the results are added to previous studies by the research group which analyzed the effects of extra virgin olive oil in the sauté -with positive results. Thus, this strengthens the idea of the Mediterranean gastronomy being beneficial for our health, not only for its food but also for the ways of cooking it.

According to the authors, the current objective is to analyze the effects of cooking with extra virgin olive oil with other food elements, such as legumes, meat, etc. “Moreover, we should conduct random research studies in humans, in which we would compare the potential benefits we obtain when cooking with quality extra virgin olive oil compared to other oils”, concludes the researcher.

Source: EurekAlert!

Speedy Super Paella


1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp chili oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 skinless chicken breast fillets (about 175 g each), chopped into bite-sized pieces
1-2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
150 g piece of chorizo, peeled and chopped 1 small red pepper, deseeded and sliced
1 small yellow pepper, deseeded and sliced 300 g paella or risotto rice
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups hot chicken stock
large pinch of saffron
100 g fresh or frozen peas, defrosted if frozen
225 g raw peeled jumbo prawns, defrosted if frozen
few stalks of thyme or rosemary
300 g mussels (optional), cleaned and debearded
salt and pepper


  1. Heat the oils in a large, wide saute pan or paella pan (if you don’t have any chili oil just use a little more vegetable oil). Add the onions and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes over a medium heat until golden.
  2. Toss the chicken pieces in the paprika and add to the pan. Sizzle and stir for a few minutes until the chicken pieces are browned.
  3. Add the garlic, chorizo and peppers and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add the rice and stir to coat well. Add the wine, hot stock and saffron and give it all a good stir, then leave to simmer, uncovered, for about 15 minutes. Don’t be tempted to stir it again — hard, I know but if it catches a little all the better. (In Spain a slightly crispy layer of rice on the bottom of the pan is known as the ‘socarrat’ and is completely authentic… so they tell me…)
  5. Scatter over the peas and push the prawns and thyme or rosemary stalks into the rice, as well as the mussels, if using (discard any mussels that do not close when tapped sharply). Season to taste.
  6. Cover the pan with a lid or foil (to allow the mussels to steam) and cook for a further 7-8 minutes.
  7. Take a peek to make sure everything looks cooked — you may need to add a little more stock. Chuck out any mussels that haven’t opened, then turn off the heat and leave to rest for a few minutes before serving.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: My Family Kitchen Cookbook

Cauliflower Camembert? The New Plant-based Cheese is Surprisingly Delicious

Catherine Lamb wrote . . . . . . . . .

When I was doing Vegan January (also known as Veganuary) this year, there was only one thing I missed: cheese. While there are relatively good substitutes available for ice cream, butter, milk, yogurt, and even eggs, cheese was the one thing that I just could not find an animal-free replacement for that didn’t taste bland, rubbery, or worse.

So when I went into the Big Idea Ventures (BIV) office in New York City this week to taste a new plant-based cheese from startup Grounded Foods, part of BIV’s latest alternative protein accelerator program, I came in with a healthy amount of skepticism. Especially since I knew that the main ingredient in many of the cheeses was one of the unsexier vegetables on the planet: cauliflower.

But before we get to the taste test, here’s a bit of background. Founded in Australia in July of 2019, Grounded Foods grew out of co-founder Shaun Quade’s efforts to develop a plant-based Roquefort (blue cheese) for a new high-end restaurant concept. As he and his co-founder (and wife) Veronica Fil started looking for funding for the restaurant, they realized that people were actually interested in investing in the Roquefort itself. “They just wanted to give money for the plant-based cheese!” Fil said.

Since then the company has participated in the Mars Seeds of Change accelerator, for which they earned $40,000, and just relocated to New York a few months ago to join the latest Big Idea Ventures cohort. As part of the alt-protein accelerator they receive $250,000 in funding. Next up Fil and Quade plan to move to the West Coast, where they believe there is the largest audience for high-caliber faux cheese. Fil and Quade hope that their products will attract not only vegans but flexitarians who either have dairy sensitivities or are looking for healthier ways to get their “cheese” fix.

The pair plan to launch their cheese through high-end restaurants later this year in order to establish the Grounded Foods brand before branching into direct-to-consumer sales and, eventually, retail. Ambitious plans to be sure, but Quade revealed that they’re prepared to scale; in fact, they’ve already secured a location on which to build their first large scale manufacturing facility on the West Coast. They’ve also filed a patent for their fermentation protocol, which Fil told me is the secret sauce that makes their cheese so “addictive” and full of umami (savory) flavor.

Pricing isn’t set in stone, but Fil told me that they expect to be cost-competitive with other cheese alternatives right out of the gate. Since their product is made using relatively inexpensive ingredients and low-tech processes, she claims it’s not expensive to produce. Grounded Foods is also cutting cost by using “ugly” cauliflower — vegetables that are aesthetically unfit to sell to grocers — to make their cheese.

Now for the moment of truth: how did the Grounded Foods cheese taste? I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. Most of offerings were a home run, successfully imitating the things I love most about cheese: the umami flavor, silky texture, and creaminess. The camembert (cauliflower + hemp) was a standout; it actually emulated the funky “stinkiness” that you taste with aged French cheese. The gruyere (oats + cauliflower) was slightly less similar to its namesake, though it had a sharpness that would take well to being melted over pasta or tucked in a sandwich. The Australian feta, which was marinated in olive oil and herbs, was pleasantly smooth and fatty, and the scallion cream cheese would honestly have fooled me in a taste test. It was that good.

The only miss for me was the “cheese” sauce, which is meant to replace Velveeta. While tasty it tasted distinctly vegetal and reminded me more of a butternut squash sauce than the beloved neon-orange cheese sauce.

The offerings I sampled were only the tip of the faux cheese iceberg. Quade is already developing other vegan cheeses to add to the Grounded Foods portfolio, including a mozzarella and blue cheese. “We have not fully explored the potential of vegetables,” Quade told me. There’s also another product line in the mix meant specifically to appeal to Gen Z diners.

Besides being quite tasty, Grounded Foods’ biggest advantage is its ingredient list. Most plant-based cheeses are made of nuts, soy, or coconut oil. The first two eliminate consumers who have certain food allergies, and the oil-based cheeses don’t have much nutritional content to speak of. Instead they’re made just of cauliflower, hemp, and oat, transformed through Quade’s proprietary fermentation process (which he, unsurprisingly, was hesitant to reveal too many details about).

While Grounded Foods is trying to crack the animal-free cheese code with plants, other companies are using a decidedly more high-tech approach. Perfect Day and New Culture have developed a method to ferment dairy proteins using genetically engineered microbes; in essence creating milk without the cow (which can then be turned into cheese). However, there’s no word on exactly when these offerings will go to market — or how costly they’ll be when they get there. Next-gen dairy startups like Eclipse Foods and Noquo Foods are also using plans to develop better-tasting cheese alternatives, but neither has announced a concrete timeline to enter the market.

Grounded Foods has been moving incredibly quickly considering it’s just over 6 months old. However, it’s still a young startup with only two full-time employees (Fil and Quade), neither of whom have experience scaling an alternative business. We’ll have to see if they can establish all the tricky parts of running a food manufacturing business, like establishing a supply chain, branding, and finding effective restaurant and retail partners.

However, with demand for plant-based cheese on the rise, there’s a lot of space for a market disrupter who will make vegan cheese that’s actually worth eating. And as far as taste goes, Grounded Foods takes the cake — er, camembert.

Source: The Spoon

A Woman’s Guide to Skin Care During and After Menopause

People sometimes refer to menopause as “the change of life,” but many women are surprised that one of the things that changes is their skin, an expert says.

“Although fluctuating hormones during menopause can result in a number of skin changes, these don’t need to be disruptive to daily life,” said New York City dermatologist Dr. Diane Berson. “With the right care, women can continue to have healthy, blemish-free skin during midlife and beyond.”

During menopause, declining estrogen levels result in dryness and itching. Wash with a mild cleanser, as regular soap may be too drying, Berson suggested in an American Academy of Dermatology news release. After bathing or showering and throughout the day, apply a moisturizer with hyaluronic acid or glycerin.

To help soothe itchy skin, apply a cool, wet compress, then a moisturizer.

Another way to relieve itchy skin is to take a colloidal oatmeal bath. Colloidal oatmeal is available in most drug and beauty stores. Use warm, not hot, water and pat your skin dry — instead of rubbing — to avoid further irritation, Berson advised.

If fluctuating hormones leave you with acne, wash with a cleanser containing benzoyl peroxide. However, if the cleanser dries out your skin, switch to a milder cleanser or a product containing adapalene.

Age spots and larger areas of darker skin can appear on your face, hands, neck, arms or chest during menopause. Applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher to exposed skin when you go outside can help fade age spots, prevent new ones and reduce your risk of skin cancer, Berson said.

Use other methods of sun protection, too, such as seeking shade and wearing a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.

“Remember, since skin cancer can sometimes look like an age spot, and since your risk of skin cancer increases with age, it’s important to perform regular skin self-exams during menopause,” Berson said.

Source: HealthDay

New Tech Takes Radiation Out of Breast Cancer Screening

Researchers have developed a new, inexpensive technology that could save lives and money by routinely screening women for breast cancer without exposure to radiation.

The system, developed by researchers at the University of Waterloo, uses harmless microwaves and artificial intelligence (AI) software to detect even small, early-stage tumors within minutes.

“Our top priorities were to make this detection-based modality fast and inexpensive,” said Omar Ramahi, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Waterloo. “We have incredibly encouraging results and we believe that is because of its simplicity.”

A prototype device – the culmination of 15 years of work on the use of microwaves for tumor detection, not imaging – cost less than $5,000 to build.

It consists of a small sensor in an adjustable box about 15 centimeters square that is situated under an opening in a padded examination table.

Patients lie face-down on the table so that one breast at a time is positioned in the box. The sensor emits microwaves that bounce back and are then processed by AI software on a laptop computer.

By comparing the tissue composition of one breast with the other, the system is sensitive enough to detect anomalies less than one centimeter in diameter.

Ramahi said a negative result could quickly rule out cancer, while a positive result would trigger referral for more expensive tests using mammography or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

“If women were screened regularly with this, potential problems would be caught much sooner – in the early stages of cancer,” he said. “Our system can complement existing technology, reserving much more expensive options for when they’re really needed.

“We need a mixture, a combination of technologies. When our device sent up a red flag, it would mean more investigation was warranted.”

In addition to reducing patient wait times and enabling earlier diagnosis, Ramahi said, the device would eliminate radiation exposure, improve patient comfort and work on particularly dense breasts, a problem with mammograms.

It would also save health-care systems enormous amounts of money and, because of its low cost and ease of use, dramatically increase access to screening in the developing world.

Researchers have applied for a patent and started a company, Wave Intelligence Inc. of Waterloo, to commercialize the system and hope to begin trials on patients within six months. Three rounds of preliminary testing included the use of artificial human torsos known as phantoms.

Source: University of Waterloo

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