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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Healthier and Better Looking Than a Suntan!

A healthy diet and a healthy circulatory system can give your face a healthy glow that looks better than a suntan. When you eat plenty of dark leafy green and dark yellow or orange vegetables, their colorful carotene pigments tend to build up in your skin. Not only do these natural antioxidants help to protect your skin from sun damage, they give you a golden glow that is more attractive than an ordinary suntan. The bright red color of oxygenated blood flowing through your skin also adds a healthy-looking rosy glow.

Doctors have known for a long time that the yellow and orange pigments from fruits and vegetables can end up in your skin. If you drink huge amounts of carrot juice, your skin could turn noticeably yellow. This condition, called carotenosis, is harmless and will go away by itself if you cut back on the carrot juice. At first glance, a severe case of carotenosis might look like the yellow discoloration (jaundice) that results from liver failure. However, the whites of the eyes turn yellow in people with jaundice but stay white in cases of carotenosis.

Scientists have found that a mild case of carotenosis actually makes a light-skinned person look healthier and more attractive.  A scientific study found that this golden glow is more attractive than an ordinary suntan.

You can also get a slightly orange blush if you drink huge amounts of tomato juice, which contains the red pigment lycopene. Like carotenosis, this condition is harmless and will go away by itself.

A healthy circulatory system also gives your skin a healthy glow. As you’ve probably noticed, people who have anemia or a circulatory problem typically have an unattractive pale or blue-gray complexion. In someone with healthy circulation, the bright red color of oxygenated blood shines through the skin to produce a healthy glow. It’s all the more reason to eat a low-fat, high-fiber diet and get plenty of exercise!

The effects of carotene and blood circulation are more obvious in a light-skinned person. However, a healthy diet and exercise are no less important for the health and appearance of a dark-skinned person!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Don't Buy the Snake Oil, Or the Butterfat!

I wrote this as a letter to the editor of Mother Earth News, which is a generally excellent publication that sometimes publishes bad dietary advice: 

In The Fats You Need for a Healthy Diet (August/September 2011 of Mother Earth News), Oscar H. Will, III, provides dangerously misleading dietary advice. Saturated fat does not “do a body good.” You don’t need to get any saturated, monounsaturated, or trans fatty acids whatsoever from the diet. Only two fatty acids are essential, which means that they must come from the food. One is an omega-6 fatty acid called linoleic acid. The other is an omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid. However, the dietary requirement for these fatty acids is so small that you can find true cases of deficiency only in extreme situations, such as people who were being fed nothing but sugar intravenously. For those patients, the requirement for essential fatty acids could be met by rubbing a small amount of vegetable oil on the skin. Fat deficiency is practically nonexistent because even a diet based on low-fat grains and vegetables provides enough of the essential fatty acids. 

The usual problem is that the person is eating too much fat. Excess fat of any kind promotes obesity, atherosclerosis, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. The omega-3 fatty acids tend to have a blood-thinning effect, which offsets some of the effect of their contribution to atherosclerosis. An excess of the polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6) has been linked to an increased risk of cancer, possibly because of their effect on the immune system. 

Even vegetarians and vegans often eat too much fat, and they tend to eat a disproportionately large amount of omega-6 relative to omega-3 fatty acids because of a large intake of nuts and oils. The obvious solution to this problem is to restrict the overall fat intake and add a small amount of ground flaxseed to the diet. Flaxseed is an excellent source of the relatively scarce omega-3 fatty acids. 

Conjugated linolenic acid is found almost exclusively in foods of animal origin. Yet nutritional epidemiology studies show that those foods promote the sorts of diseases that the dairy industry is claiming that conjugated linolenic acid is supposed to help prevent.


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Frying Onions Without Oil

Nearly every time I cook a meal, the first step is to fry some onions. When people hear that I cook without fat, they want to know how I fry my onions. Believe it or not, I fry onions in a dry pan. Sometimes, I even fry onions in a plain stainless steel frying pan or pressure cooker. You don’t even need a nonstick coating or any of that oil-in-a-can stuff. 

The secret is to keep a cup of water handy. When the onions start to stick, I add a splash of water, which boils off almost instantly. Sometimes, I keep on frying the onions until they are nicely browned. This caramelizes the sugars and gives a rich flavor. If you want to cook something fancy, you can also fry things in a splash of wine!