Now that you are reading labels, there are some other Essential Fatty Acids (EFA) that you will run into that I think are interesting.
Gamma-linolenic is used by the body to make prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are hormone-like substances that help with the contraction and relaxation of smooth muscle and the dilation and constriction of blood vessels. Prostaglandins control blood pressure and inflammation.
Prostaglandins both create and remove inflammation as a part of the natural healing process.
When you get an injury, prostaglandins rush to the site and cause the redness that comes to the surface of the skin. The pain and other inflammatory responses are part of the healing process. Once these “bad”, inflammation-causing prostaglandins have done their work, the body creates fibrin (also known as scar tissue) to surround the injured area with a mesh-like coating. This is when the body sends in the anti-inflammatory (“good”) prostaglandins that reduce pain, swelling, and redness.
Sources of gamma-linolenic acid are evening primrose oil, borage oil, and black currant oil. It is also found in breast milk, grass-fed beef and organs, and cold-water fish. When you have sustained an injury, the recommended dose of evening primrose oil is 8 to 12 capsules a day, at a dose of 500 milligrams per capsule.
Arachidonic acid is a type of omega-6 fatty acid that is involved in inflammation. Like other omega-6 fatty acids, arachidonic acid is essential to your health. Arachidonic acid can be made in the body but supplementing with too much red meat can also add too much arachidonic acid to your diet and can be problematic. The American Heart Association says that arachidonic acid promotes inflammation, which can increase your risk for heart disease. However, if you are getting plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, and limiting saturated fat, trans fat, dietary cholesterol, and sodium in your diet your heart-disease risks should stay low.
Animal products are high in both saturated fats and cholesterol. Cholesterol is mostly manufactured by the body in the liver. But, it is also consumed in animal products. What we don’t take in via our food, our body will make. Within the body, cholesterol is found in the brain, nervous system, liver, and the blood. It is used to form sex and adrenal hormones, vitamin D and bile, which is need for the digestion of fats. Cholesterol is also needed for adding rigidity to cell walls and for our ability to learn and remember. Cholesterol is an anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant.
When the body’s supply of cholesterol exceeds the need for its uses, the excess is excreted through the digestive tract.
If the diet contains inadequate amounts of fiber, cholesterol cannot be properly removed. And, it will be reabsorbed and recycled. This leads to elevated cholesterol levels.
Probiotic organisms are beneficial in lowering Total and LDL elevations. Excess cholesterol can come from the body’s response to alcohol, excess refined sugars and carbs, free radical activity in the vascular system, nutrient deficiencies that prevent repair and maintenance, low hormone levels, unchecked inflammation, and fatty liver. Elevated cholesterol levels can, also, be genetic.
Keys to dealing with excess cholesterol:
- Increase your fiber intake.
- Improve your liver function with exercise, herbs, and bitters.
- Include fermented foods to increase beneficial bacteria.
- Add essential fatty acids and antioxidants.
- Identify and address hormone imbalances and inflammation issues.
- Improve your diet to reduce refined carbohydrates and include nutrient-rich plant foods.
Our bodies and brains require healthy forms of fat in order to function well.
“Eat fat, get fat” has been the conventional wisdom guiding American diets for the past two decades. Yet more and more research suggests that thinking is dangerously misguided.
Dozens of scientific studies suggest that eating fat isn’t linked to weight gain.The evidence lies in studies that have compared people on low-fat, high-carb diets with people on low-carb, high-fat diets. Time and time again, the research reveals that people who restrict their intake of fatty foods do not lose weight or gain other health benefits. In contrast, people who eat diets high in fat but low in refined carbohydrates like white bread and white rice tend to lose weight and see other health benefits as well.
These findings suggest that the real villain when it comes to weight gain isn’t fat but rather added sugar and refined carbohydrates that get quickly broken down into sugar.
Enjoy some good fats in your diet every day!
Brown, Green, red or black lentils are low in calories, high in iron and folate, and are an excellent source of protein. Lentils are an outstanding source of molybdenum and folate. They are also a very good source of dietary fiber, copper, phosphorus and manganese. Additionally, they are a great source of vitamin B1, pantothenic acid, zinc, potassium and vitamin B6. Lentils are full of polyphenols and research shows they may reduce several heart disease risk factors.
Lentils are inexpensive and make a nutritious base for soups and salads. A serving is a 1/2 cup cooked.
Lentils are rich in complex carbohydrates, boosting the metabolism and helping the body to burn fat. There are 9 grams of starch in a single serving of lentils, which provides the body with quick energy. In addition, you’ll benefit from 8 grams of fiber when you consume a half cup of lentils. Fiber helps to stabilize blood sugar, boost satiety, and improve digestive health. Lentils provide 2 grams of naturally-occurring sugar. There are no fats in lentils and 9 grams of protein in a single serving.
How to Buy
When you buy lentils, look for uncracked discs that have not been exposed to dust or moisture. You can buy lentils in pre-packed containers (bags or boxes), but many stores also sell lentils in the bulk section so you can buy only the amount that you need.
You can buy lentils canned and precooked but be sure that no sodium or other preservatives are included.
Buy lentils in the bulk section of your local coop. The turnover is higher and you will not be caught buying old stock. Old lentils take much longer to cook and can shed their skins when cooking. If you buy them in a packaged bag, be sure it is clear so that you can see the quality. They should have a bright, uniform color – a dull color indicates lack of freshness.
How to Store
Store lentils in an air-tight container in your pantry or in another cool, dark place. If stored properly, lentils should stay good for up to 12 months.
How to Cook
Before cooking lentils, you should rinse the legumes to remove any dirt or dust. Remove any cracked or broken discs.
Boil three cups of water and add one cup of lentils. Simmer for roughly 20 minutes, although cooking time will depend on your taste preference and on the variety of lentil used.
Lentils are quick and easy to cook. Green and brown lentils cook evenly and don’t get mushy. The red, yellow and orange lentil are wonderful but are better added to soups and sauces rather than cooked on their own.
The most reliable way to cook lentils is to bring them to a rapid simmer, then reduce the heat to low for the rest of the cooking. Keep a few bubbles coming up to create some gentle movement in the lentils. Cooking will take 20-30 minutes. Keep an eye on the pot to be sure the lentils are covered with water. Another trick is to wait to add salt or any acidic ingredient until the lentils are done cooking.
One cup dried green, brown, or French lentils
2 cups water
1 bay leaf, garlic clove, sprig of thyme or rosemary
1/4 teaspoon salt at the end of cooking. Season with olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, or fresh herbs.
You do not need a recipe to add lentils to your diet – add to soups, sprinkle cooked lentils on salads, drizzle a serving with Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) and herbs, use in sandwich wraps, add to soups or use as a bed for a poached egg.
Cooked lentils can be kept in the refrigerator for up to four days in an air tight container.
Summer Lentil Salad
- 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar (same flavor as balsamic but light colored, can substitute for regular balsamic)
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 scallions finely chopped
- 2 cups cooked lentils
- 2 cups peeled and cubed English cucumber
- 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
- 1 shallot finely chopped
- 1/2 cup feta cheese crumbled
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 2 fresh mint leaves minced
- kosher salt to taste
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
In a small bowl, whisk together the white balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard. Whisk in the olive oil, then stir in the scallions. Set the dressing aside. Whisk once more before using.
In a medium bowl, combine the lentils, cucumber, tomatoes, shallot, feta cheese, cilantro, and mint. Toss with the dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper.