Re-post of an awesome article on Canola Oil – Diane Sanfilippo



(Only since the 1980s- read: NEW FOOD! NEW FOODS ARE NOT REAL FOODS)

How the Rapeseed becomes the yellow colored, mild smelling oil that’s on shelves in stores goes something like this:

Rapeseeds + high heat processing with hexane (a chemical solvent) = a grey, awful smelling, non-smooth oil.

> grey, awful smelling, non-smooth oil is then chemically bleached and de-gummed

> bleached and de-gummed, awful smelling oil is then chemically deodorized

> bleached, de-gummed, chemically deodorized oil is then dyed yellow and bottled in plastic

For the full process, check out this industry link. The process is actually longer than listed above, but those are the big steps. The description via this link gets into detail but the summary they provide for Rapeseed oil refining is as follows:

“The refining process involves degumming, neutralization, drying, bleaching, and deodorization. Crude oil from extraction has to be refined to obtain a high quality oil. Natural impurities of crude rapeseed oil include water, dirt, phosphatide gums, free fatty acids, color matter, odiferous and flavorous substances, natural breakdown and oxidation products of the oil itself. There are two methods for refining edible oils: alkali and physical refining.”

HEALTHY OIL? HMM… What do you think?

Also, according to Mary Enig, author of “Know Your Fats,” a book considered to be THE leading resource on the subject of fats and oils, Canola oil “was produced by genetically modifying the parent rapeseed so that the monounsaturated fatty acid would be oleic acid instead of another monounsaturated fatty acid caled erucic acid. Erucic acid-containing rapeseed oil is considered undesirable as a food by the US and Canadian governments.” And “like any highly unsaturated fat, it needs to be carefully handled as it becomes rancid very easily.” The effects of genetically modified crops are still unknown, but many predict that they won’t be positive as time goes on. If that’s not reason enough to avoid canola oil…


Highly unsaturated fats like Canola oil oxidize VERY easily. Leave a bottle open on a counter for a week. Smell what happens. Do the same with coconut oil or even butter. Smell what happens. The chemical structure of unsaturated fats is VERY delicate. When something in their environment isn’t perfect, their structure is changed easily, causing them to oxidize. This is one reason why we say that olive oil shouldn’t be heated or only on very low temperatures- so that it’s chemical structure can remain in tact. Once these structures are changed, the body can’t use them as intended.

Coconut and other saturated fats are far more STABLE and do no chemically change when heat is applied (at least not as easily, it will take much higher heat for longer periods of time), so when they enter our bodies, they’re in-tact and our bodies recognize them as what they are from nature. Oxidized or rancid oils in the body enter and cannot be biochemically understood as food. They enter and are more like a PLASTIC in the body, or a toxin. Our body does not metabolize toxins but rather STORES them – in our fat cells. This leads to inflammation. Inflammation is a key player in many chronic diseases, weight gain, weight loss resistance, general feeling of fatigue, pain and lethargy, joint pain, etc. While I recognize that canola oil’s fatty acid profile is high in health-promoting omega 3s, neglecting to look beyond that one seemingly positive attribute of the oil (which becomes a moot point once the oil is oxidized, which we can see happens extremely easily) paints a false picture of this oil’s true composition and function in our bodies.

I hope that was enough information on why canola oil is bad. Coconut oil, why it’s good- I have to save that for another day. I need some dinner.

In the event that you’d like to read more on canola oil, a simple search on for “canola oil” reveals many results. He’s a trusted naturopathic doctor who has long provided valuable medical guidance to living a healthier life, naturally. Robb Wolf also covers a bit about coconut oil in his Paleolithic Solution podcast, Episode 23 which is free for anyone to listen to streaming or download. I love that podcast.

Enjoy & be well!

Diane Sanfilippo

BS, C.H.E.K. Holistic Lifestyle Coach

Owner, Balanced Bites Holistic Nutrition & Wellness

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Meet Michael Pollan

If you haven’t discovered him yet, Michael Pollan will change the way you think about food. Here are several ways to get to know him and his work.

Food, Inc.
(I think we need to have a Movie night at the gym so we can watch it together! What do you think?)

The Omnivore’s Dilemma
In Defense of Food
Food Rules

Print Interviews:
The Food Movement, Rising in the June, 2010 New York Times Review of Books
Frontline on PBS interview

Audio Interviews
Food Rules on “Democracy Now”, Feb. 2010
On Point with Tom Ashbrook, Jan. 2010
NPR Science Friday – Jan 2008

Video interviews:
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Jan. 2010
With Bill Moyers on PBS, Part 1
With Bill Moyers on PBS, Part 2

The Next Omnivore’s Dilemma – TED talk 2008
A Plant’s Eye View – TED talk 2008
UC Davis Forum at the Mondavi Center 2008

No excuses Nutrition

There’s so much great material about Nutrition available now, that it is getting hard to keep up with all the posts! When I come across a gem, I’ll share it here in case you haven’t found it yourself. Here’s one from a fellow CrossFitter and inspiration-extraordinaire, Kyle Maynard.

If you haven’t encountered Kyle before, here’s an introduction from his new website:

“Traffic jams, bills, bad weather, and work are things everyone complains about, but Kyle Maynard doesn’t complain. Born without arms or legs below his elbows and knees, he excels as a champion athlete, motivational speaker, author, model, and entrepreneur.

A 2004 ESPY award winner, Kyle has appeared as a guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Larry King Live, ABC’s 20/20, Good Morning America, the CBS Early Show. He has also appeared on HBO Real Sports, and as a cover story in USA Today. Kyle continues to inspire others as the author of his autobiography, No Excuses (2005), a New York Times Best Seller.

He recently opened his first fitness center, No Excuses CrossFit, in Suwanee, GA. He continues to train and compete in power lifting and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. And amidst much debate over his capability to compete in the sport, on April 25th 2009, Kyle made history by becoming the first quadruple amputee fighter ever to step into a cage and fight in Mixed Martial Arts.

Today, Kyle travels the U.S. and the world delivering his inspirational message to a wide range of audiences. He is extremely passionate about his work with the Wounded Warriors and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Kyle has accomplished it all with no complaints and No Excuses!”

…and it also comes in Wheat free!

I’m black.

I’m available in regular or low-sodium.

I compliment 99% of Asian foods.

What am I?

Give up?

The answer is…Soy Sauce.

If you’re an avid fan of Asian food like I am, you already know how essential and necessary this condiment is to this type of cuisine.

When you embark on the Paleo Diet, you tell yourself you are going to eat only what is suggested and rid yourself of anything not on the list. Easier said then done, right? But when you’re sitting at the Sushi Boat at a Japanese restaurant and you see the delectable pieces of sashimi floating by, what usually accompanies sashimi and wasabi?

Made from fermented soybeans, wheat, water, and salt it’s no real surprise that us Paleo-folk can’t have this.  Fortunately, for all Paleo-enthusiasts out there you can enjoy the functionality of soy sauce! When I first found out about this, I was excited to know that there really is a Paleo friendly substitute for everything. Have you ever heard of Tamari?

Certified to be “gluten-free” by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization, Organic Wheat Free Tamari, is naturally fermented with 100% soybeans and contain absolutely no wheat. We all know that soybeans are not Paleo; however, it depends on how extreme you view your Paleo lifestyle. For me, I use Tamari in a few meals that I prepare bi-weekly, and to be honest, I feel perfectly fine. It hasn’t negatively effected my performance in the gym, nor is it an irritant to my stomach. In order to keep this diet interesting, an occasional drop of Tamari here and there is ok. The key here is moderation.

If you do a search for Paleo Recipes online, you will come across a few recipes that ask for a bit of Tamari.

These are just a few recipes that utilize the unique flavor of Tamari, and because they are Paleo they sound a lot more enticing, eh?

Today, I blog about Tamari to create awareness and let you guys know that Paleo eating does not have to resort to steamed carrots and grilled chicken breasts. Add a little flavor and spice to your meals. Your stomach will love you for it!  Take what I say w/ a grain of salt. It gives you an option, and hopefully opens your doors to all that Paleo living has to offer.

What do you guys think?

To each their own.



Home, home on the Range…

I was going to put up a post on recipes and cookbooks, but in the course of gathering that information I came across this amazing company, US Wellness Meats. Holy cow. If you are looking for a source of grassfed meat, free-range poultry, compassionate certified pork, sustainably wildcaught fish – they’ve got it. And pastureland butter and raw Amish cheese, as well as a whole host of other fabulous products. Shipping charges are included in the cost of your purchase and there’s a handling charge of $7.50 no matter how much you order ($75 and 7lb minimum).

Their blog has some fascinating posts (have you ever heard of soap nuts from the Soapberry tree? I kid you not, there’s a product called “Maggies Soap Nuts” and I’m going to try them!).

Discovering US Wellness Meats led me to look for similar sources closer to home (they’re based in Missouri). Fortunately, for us here in the Bay Area, there are many options for buying pasture-raised meats and similar foods. Wise Food Ways has a great list of sources in and around the Bay Area. Eat Wild has a comprehensive listing and map of farms in California from which you can purchase everything from a “whole, half or quarter beef” to a case (15 dozen) of free-range eggs, plus buffalo, bison, goat, lamb, and Muscovy ducks. And of course, we are lucky to be able to buy some of these products in smaller quantities at the Whole Foods grocery stores.

If you are wondering why you might want to acquire pasture-raised animals, Sustainable Table has a great overview of the topic, plus additional links to more information.

It might be interesting to go on a field trip or two to see some of these amazing farms. And who knows, you might come back the proud owner of half a “beef”.

Better late than never…

…and we’re back!

Even since I got bitten by the “Paleo bug” eight months ago, I am keeping things interesting and learning new tips & tricks about this lifestyle everyday. I don’t know where I’ve been for the past eight months, possibly under a rock or so, but I just recently discovered the best place (possibly ever) to purchase a good amount of my meat and produce.

It’s not Whole Foods…or Trader Joe’s…or Costco…or someone else’s backyard…

Can you guess what it is?

The Farmer’s Market.

Crazy, huh? Seriously, I don’t know where this has been all my life. Local, organic, and high quality food all in one central location, it doesn’t get any better. It can get a bit crowded if you aren’t there early, but if you are one of the people that arrive  early when it starts, you get first dibs on freshest produce! Fresh food everywhere…need I say more?

I’m specifically referring to the Downtown Campbell Farmer’s Market held every Sunday. Skeptical? Check out the reviews on Yelp!

Yelp Review

Paleo encourages you to get your produce as fresh and local as possible, and preferably organic. Think about this. If you buy carton of blueberries from Trader Joe’s and it reads Product of Chile, you know those berries were at its freshest when they were packed. Also, think about the distance those berries traveled to get to your Trader Joe’s? Crazy, huh?

The Farmer’s Market gives you the opportunity to get your fruits and vegetables at its peak freshness, while traveling possibly no more than an hour or so to get there.

As if getting your produce wasn’t convenient enough, did you know you could also get your Grass-fed meat here as well? My first visit to the vendor, and I purchased the Family Pack of Grass-fed Ground Beef (85/15) for $18,00. I don’t know if it was just me, but I seriously had the best tasting hamburger that same evening. No joke! If ground beef isn’t your thing, they have Hangar Steak cuts, Flank Steak, NY Steak, Filets, and just about every other cut of beef you could think of.

I am so glad I had the opportunity to shop at a Farmer’s Market. The prices varied from item to item, and I do believe some of the prices rival that of some of the produce you may get at your local Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, or local grocer etc.

If you are like me, and haven’t received the memo until now, I really recommend you check this one out. Shopping at one of these places is a preference and purely up to you, and it may not be your thing, but its definitely something to check out.

Downtown Campbell Farmer’s Market Site

In case you happen to be around the Bay Area, and can’t make the Campbell one, there are loads more throughout the Bay Area. Check out this link to the SFGate for the many locations.

Just wanted to give a quick shout out to all our current readers, and a big “Welcome!” to all our newer readers.

Stay tuned for more Paleo-fun tastic articles from your friendly, neighborhood blogger, Theo.

We’re Back!

After a brief hiatus, Theo and I have decided to keep on blogging for our Santa Clara folks on a twice-a-week basis. I’ll be posting on Tuesdays and Theo will post  on Fridays, and when I run across a post somewhere else that I think you’ll like, I’ll post that too! We’ll cover anything and everything you’re interested in, so please send us your questions and ideas!

Today, I’m going to share a post written by my friend and fellow Paleo-eater, Jonathan Allen (aka “Goat” on the CrossFit Main Page).  He originally posted this on his CrossFit Rising website.

Before you read Jonathan’s article, let me give you some links to additional articles on Cholesterol, which I hope will add to Goat’s fine piece and make a somewhat sticky subject a little more understandable.

Mark Sisson has several great posts, including his Definitive Guide to Cholesterol and  Eight Foods to Lower LDL Cholesterol, Boost HDL cholesterol, and Fight Inflammation.

Robb Wolf has a short but pithy post on Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) and Cholesterol. Dr. Loren Cordain has a lot of information about fats and cholesterol here. This British site has a wealth of information about “the compound that makes us different from plants.”

For a few personal anecdotes/testimony about the effect of Paleo nutrition on cholesterol, read Steve Parsoneault’s post, Ari Armstrong’s blog post or this one from Chet at CrossFit East Decatur. (I liked their picture so much I borrowed it 🙂 )

March 7th, 2010 – Cholesterol

(by Jonathan Allen, CrossFit Rising)

Having gone from a weak and flabby 250 pounds to a strong and lean 175 pounds, I am often asked for the details of how I did it. When I describe a diet moderate-to-high in protein, high in saturated and mono-unsaturated fats, made of real foods and excluding processed food-products, grains, added sugar (which technically is a processed food-product), and legumes, I almost invariably hear some variation on, “Saturated fats? Won’t that raise my cholesterol?”

This has to be the most common stumbling block I encounter when I try to encourage my clients to eat healthfully. Since at least the 1970’s, science has understood that total blood cholesterol levels are not a good predictor of heart disease. In fact, many people with very high cholesterol levels never develop heart disease, and many people who have died of heart disease had cholesterol levels only slightly above “normal”. Yet the medical establishment continues to push the idea that high cholesterol kills, and eating saturated fat will turn you into a cholesterol factory working overtime. Most men are so afraid of heart disease that they have serious reservations about a way of eating which can eliminate excess body fat, lower blood pressure, reduce cancer and Alzheimer’s risk, and practically eliminate dozens of auto-immune diseases, but which might raise cholesterol levels.

So today I would like to take a closer look at cholesterol, and it’s role in our health. I know this has already been done by other people, but maybe I will reach the three or four internet-savvy people they haven’t, and besides, I understand things better when I write about them, so here goes.

First, what exactly is cholesterol? According to, “Cholesterol is a waxy steroid metabolite found in the cell membranes and transported in the blood plasma of all animals.[2] It is an essential structural component of mammalian cell membranes, where it is required to establish proper membrane permeability and fluidity. In addition, cholesterol is an important component for the manufacture of bile acids, steroid hormones, and several fat-soluble vitamins.” Well, I sure am glad I know that. I guess for my purposes, cholesterol is something found in animal cell membranes and blood plasma. Good enough.

What is cholesterol for? Well, it is required to build and maintain cell membranes, regulate membrane fluidity, intracellular transport, cell signaling and nerve conduction, forms the myelin sheaths on neurons. It forms bile, which is essential to intestinal absorption of fat molecules as well as the fat-soluble vitamins, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, and Vitamin K, (ask me why I hate Olestra, sometime) and it is a precursor molecule in several biochemical pathways. That all sounds like it is pretty important to me. It seems that we humans need cholesterol in many, many ways to ensure our bodies actually function properly.

In fact, our bodies make most of our cholesterol, and carefully regulate the levels. If we increase or decrease our dietary levels of cholesterol, our bodies respond by making less or more of it to maintain balance. Today, it is fairly commonly known to doctors that reducing cholesterol intake will not do much to reduce blood cholesterol levels.

So why is everyone afraid of what is not only an essential part of our bodies, but also a product of those self-same bodies? The answer lies in something called the Diet-Heart Hypothesis. The Diet-Heart Hypothesis basically says that saturated fat elevates blood cholesterol levels, and that elevated blood cholesterol causes blood lipid accumulation in arterial walls (a.k.a. plaques or lesions), and that this is at the root of coronary artery disease. The hypothesis has been around in one form or another for over 100 years, but it really came into the public’s notice in the 1950’s, when Ancel Keys published his Seven Countries Study, which allegedly showed a direct correlation between fat intake and heart disease. Keys made it onto the cover of Time magazine, which failed to mention that he had reliable data from twenty-two countries, but didn’t publish it because the data as a whole showed very little correlation between fat intake and heart disease. Basically, he cherry-picked his data.

One part of this and subsequent studies which really caught the public eye was the super-low heart disease rate on the island of Crete. The people of Crete had a low saturated fat intake, and ate a great deal of fresh vegetables, and this is the basis of today’s “Mediterranean Diet”. What most people don’t hear about is the fact that the Cretans ate large amounts of meat, did not have a low total fat intake (and in fact ate copious amounts of olive oil, some going so far as to drink it straight up), had no electricity (an therefor didn’t stay up very long past dark, generally), walked everywhere, worked hard in the physical sense… and so on. Their lifestyles were, and probably are, entirely different than ours. Singling out not just diet, but one small component of diet, and saying that must be the difference which makes their heart disease rate so low is just sheer idiocy.

These ideas about cholesterol and heart disease have persisted to this day, despite the fact that high-quality studies to back them up are pretty hard to come by. So what is really going on inside of us? Let’s take a look.

Our bodies produce molecules called “lipoproteins”. There are many kinds, but the kinds which are important to us are high-density lipoprotein (HDL), low-density lipoprotein (LDL), and very-low-density lipoproteins (VLDL). Many of you have probably heard of these, or at least the first two.

What lipoproteins do, in simple terms, is shuttle cholesterol and triglycerides (fat) around in our bloodstream. HDL’s collect cholesterol from the body’s tissues, and bring it back to the liver. LDL’s carry cholesterol from the liver to cells of the body, and VLDL’s carry (newly synthesized) triglycerides from the liver to adipose tissue. So when the tissues need cholesterol the LDL’s take it to them, when they are done with it the HDL’s take it back to the liver, and when the liver makes triglycerides the VLDL’s take them to the adipose tissue.

In the eyes of the general public and most General Practitioners, HDL is the good, LDL is the bad, and VLDL might count as the ugly if they have even heard of it. Yet each one of these has an important role to play inside of us. LDL is demonized because it is often found as part of arterial plaques (see, it isn’t really the cholesterol at all), yet it has long been known that LDL levels are only marginal risk factors for heart disease, and a much more reliable indicator is the ratio of the blood triglycerides to HDL cholesterol. But why?

Not all LDL particles are created equal. Some of them are large and fluffy, sometimes called “buoyant”, and some of them are small and dense. It is the small, dense ones which seem to be gathering in the arterial lesions which are associated with coronary artery disease; the large, fluffy ones are simply too big and buoyant to get stuck in the pile-up. On a standard lipid profile, the small, dense LDL and the large, fluffy LDL do not show up separately. This means that the lipid profile is not telling you which you have or whether you should be worried about them if your LDL actually is elevated. And if it is notelevated? You could still have the majority of your LDL as the small, dense kind, and be at a higher risk of heart disease than someone with a higher LDL level, but much lower small, dense particle levels. So much for total LDL levels telling you anything.

What increases the small, dense LDL particle levels? Is it really saturated fat? Let’s ask Gary Taubes: “This suggests that saturated fat elevates LDL-cholesterol in part by increasing theamount of cholesterol in the LDL, and so making larger and fluffier LDL to begin with, rather than by increasing the number of LDL particles or by increasing the number of small, dense LDL particles.” So if it isn’t the cholesterol itself which is the problem, but the LDL particle it is carried on, and it isn’t just any LDL particles, but the small, dense ones we need to worry about, then saturated fat is not going to cause heart disease.Nothing I have said leading up to that last statement is really considered controversial science. It is commonly known and accepted as fact, by both sides of the argument, that saturated fat raises large, fluffy LDL and that it is the small, dense LDL which is very strongly associated with heart disease. It makes me wonder why the Diet-Heart Hypothesis lives on.

Still the question remains, what increases the small, dense LDL particles? Taubes again, “After we eat a carbohydrate rich meal, the bloodstream is flooded with glucose, and the liver takes some of this glucose and transforms it into fat—i.e., triglycerides—for temporary storage… The triglycerides constitute the cargo that the lipo-proteins drop off at tissues throughout the body… The resulting lipo-protein has a very low density, and so is a VLDL particle.” As these VLDL particles go about their business of dropping the triglycerides off hither and yon, they slowly become the small, dense LDL particles we should fear. The more triglycerides which were originally packed into the VLDL particle, the smaller and denser the resulting LDL particle will be.

What this means is that eating a lot of carbohydrate, and in particular, highly refined carbohydrates such as flour and sugar, will increase the amount of small, dense LDL we produce. The more of it we eat, the more we produce, while at the same time making them smaller and denser. Sugar itself, and all things related to it (high-fructose corn syrup, anyone?), go one step further. The fructose portion of sucrose is processed exclusively in the liver. Unlike the glucose portion, none of it is burned by the cells as energy. The liver deals with what is effectively a toxin by converting it to triglycerides, and shipping it out for storage. Comparing glucose to fructose (all carbohydrate you eat, except fructose, becomes glucose in your body), you will get a much, much higher elevation in blood triglycerides from the fructose. The particles which carry the resulting triglycerides around are those same VLDL mentioned above. That is why knowing your ratio of blood triglycerides to HDL is a much better indicator of heart disease risk than just your LDL levels, or LDL to HDL ratio.

What is the take-away? We know that eating cholesterol will not affect our cholesterol very much, and that our cholesterol levels are not really the issue anyway. We understand that our bodies need lipoproteins to function, that LDL has an important role in our bodies, and that we cannot live without it. We have seen that it is the small, dense LDL we don’t want, and that the large, fluffy LDL is what we should be making. We have also seen that it is carbohydrates, especially refined carbohydrates, which result in the creation of the small, dense particles, and that it is saturated fat which helps to raise the levels of the large, fluffy LDL particles. Knowing all of this, it sure seems clear to me that replacing the refined carbs in our diets with fats, especially the saturated kind (and not those damned trans-fats), will greatly reduce the risk of developing heart disease. I would not be surprised to find that such a change could actually reduce the symptoms of heart disease where it already exists. The next time you start out making egg whites and oatmeal with honey for breakfast, throw out the oatmeal and eat the yolks instead.