cholesterol

What’s on the Menu – We may be getting a bit nutty

I believe the first time I heard about the benefits of coconut oil was when I heard Dave Asprey (creator of Bulletproof coffee) talk about it on Joe Rogan’s podcast back in 2012. Asprey described how his bulletproof coffee, which contained an ingredient prominent in coconut oil, helped him lose weight, have more energy and be sharper mentally. Even though I wasn’t quite prepared to start downing his bulletproof coffee, I began hearing more and more individuals I consider experts in nutrition and/or medicine talk about the benefits of coconut oil.  People like Vinnie Tortorich, Dr. Rhonda Patrick and Mark Sisson were signing its praises, which in my mind gave me the greenlight to start incorporating it into my diet anyway possible.

I know I’ve talked about my love for coconut oil many times on this blog. Heck, I think Shannon and I have done at least two Addicted to Fitness episodes where we taste tested a coffee + coconut oil concoction (click here to listen). However, I recently learned that my LDL cholesterol is extremely high. I believe the primary culprit for this is my genes, but I’m also analyzing items in my diet that may drive up “bad” cholesterol. Which is why I’m gonna take a closer look at a few of the pros & cons associated with coconut oil consumption.

Pros

  • Contains medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) which unlike long chain triglycerides can be easily accessed by the body as an energy source and are less likely to be stored as fat (source)
  • Contains high concentrations of lauric acid, which has been shown to aid in the treatment of viral, bacterial and fungal infections (source)
  • The consumption of MCTs may increase “good” HDL cholesterol (source)
  • The consumption of MCTs has also been linked to improved cognitive function in Alzheimer’s patients (source)

Cons

  • Coconut oil is ~50% lauric acid which some researchers believe acts as a long chain triglyceride, which could raise “bad” LDL cholesterol (source)
  • Coconut oil only contains 10-15% MCTs (if you subtract lauric acid), which greatly reduces its ability to boost metabolism (source)
  • Certain commercially sold coconut oils can be highly refined & processed which greatly reduces its health benefits (source)

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My preliminary research leads me to believe that there is much more upside to using unrefined, virgin coconut oil than downside. However, for someone like myself, who is genetic predisposed to have high LDL cholesterol, it may be wise to use it sparingly. Although, I’ve recently learned that not all LDL cholesterol is “bad” and I plan on getting more blood tests done to determine the makeup of my levels. Until then, I’ll limit my coconut oil use to cooking, instead of throwing it into smoothies & my morning coffee.

Just because I’m cutting down on my coconut oil use, it doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear how you use it. Whether it’s for cooking, skin care or cold remedy, please feel free to send your coconut oil uses to elementaltampa@gmail.com. We’d also really enjoy it if you send us a pic on our various social channels (Facebook, Instagram or Twitter).

Addicted to Fitness Show Notes – Benefits of eating seasonal produce

This episode of the Addicted to Fitness podcast is dropping on the unofficial start to summer, Memorial Day. Cookouts, pool parties and summer vacation for students & teachers are all great reasons to love this holiday. However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention why we celebrate this holiday in the first place. Memorial Day is the day we pay tribute to the men and women of the armed forces who gave their lives to protect our country. I know military action may be a contentious issue, but I will always show my respect to those individuals who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect this country and its citizens. Thank you to all the members of the armed forces, past and present.

Alright, on with the show notes!

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This week’s training recap doesn’t really contain a lot of training. Shannon is quickly approaching her 6th month of pregnancy, which means her workout clothes, specifically her pants, no longer fit. The pants she had were so uncomfortable that she was dreading her beloved Peloton cycle rides.  This prompted her to splurge on specialized maternity workout pants, which she wore while we recorded the podcast. Judging by her reaction, she really enjoyed them. She encouraged all ladies, pregnant or not, to purchase fitness wear that is functional and comfortable. It will make workouts much more enjoyable.

My portion of the training recap included a discussion of the lab results from my recent trip to the functional medicine doctor. The only test results that were issues of concern were my LDL cholesterol and vitamin D levels. After discussing my diet with my doctor, he believes that my family history and certain dietary choices are contributing to my high cholesterol levels. He suggested substituting mass produced beef & pork for sheep, lamb or game meat and incorportating more small fish (sardines, achovies, mackeral, etc.) into my diet. He also prescribed red yeast rice and vitamin D supplements to address both areas of concern (check out our past podcast on vitamin D deficiency link).

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Image courtesy of foundmyfitness.com

I was super pleased by how thorough my doctor was. I’m very happy that I sought out a certified function medicine practioner (click link to learn more). I’ll make sure to keep you updated on any future doctor visits and test results.

After our training recap we get into a timely discussion on seasonal produce. The optimal growing conditions of spring & early summer usually result in a a wide variety of produce at the grocery store and your local produce stand. We use an article from the Feeding South Florida website (link) to discuss the health & environmental benefits of eating seasonal produce. We also consult the seasonal produce list from the USDA (link) to find out which season you can expect to find certain produce items. You can also click here to find out when certain produce items are in season in your state.

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We love supporting local businesses and we couldn’t think of a better one to promote than local produce stands. Both Shannon and I have fond memories of ours growing up, and I’m sure you do too. We’d love to hear what you look forward to getting when you visit your local produce stand. Feel free to send your responses to elementaltampa@gmail.com or send us a message on any of our social channels (Facebook, Instagram or Twitter). We’d love to hear from you all.

One last thing, we’ve got another interview episode of Addicted to Fitness coming atchya next week. I don’t want give too much away about our guest, so I’ll just say two words: Coach Fury.

Links for this week’s episode

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/benefits-of-eating-seasonal-produce/id1121420986?i=1000385914079&mt=2

Android: http://subscribeonandroid.com/addictedtofitness.libsyn.com/rss

Website: http://addictedtofitness.libsyn.com/why-you-should-visit-your-local-farm-stand

What’s on the Menu – Dark Chocolate: Brain Candy

If you’ve checked out the “About” section of elementaltampa.com you would know that I wasn’t always as health conscious as I am right now. There was a point in my life where I didn’t care about a food’s nutritional content, calories and/or ingredients. My taste buds determined what I ate and that usually meant refined grains and sugar. Pasta, crackers, chips, fast food and of course CANDY! I was fortunate enough to pull up from the nutritional tailspin that I was in and now my cravings for “treats” has evolved.

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I discovered that once I kicked processed foods out of my diet, my taste buds started being more appreciative of the flavor of whole foods, especially sweet items. This epiphany marks the point when my love for dark chocolate really began. I always liked chocolate, but it was mainly milk chocolate that consisted of more sugar than actual cacao. Once I modified my diet, I started gravitating more to dark chocolate with at least 70% cacao. I now enjoy Ghirardelli’s 86% cacao dark chocolate, which contains less than 2 grams of sugar per 1×1 inch square. I’m trying to condition my taste buds to enjoy the highest cacao content possible not just because it contains no sugar, but because of its numerous health benefits.

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Much like the previous menu “spotlights” in this blog, dark chocolate with high cacao %’s contain extremely high levels of antioxidants. These antioxidants reduce the presence of free radicals, which can be responsible for chronic diseases/syndromes like type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension and even cancer. In addition to its antioxidantive properties, dark chocolate may be one of the world’s most powerful “brainfoods” (source).

A 2009 study documented an improvement in the cognitive function (e.g. problem solving, memory recall, perception, etc.) of elderly adults that consumed foods rich in flavonoids like dark chocolate. The flavonoids in dark chocolate also promote cerebral blood flow which could help individuals who suffer from dementia or strokes (source). Hopefully these health benefits will motivate you to add a few pieces of dark chocolate to those Easter baskets you may be putting together in a few weeks.

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If you have a killer recipe that features dark chocolate, please send it our way. You can post it in the comment section below or email it to us at elementaltampa@gmail.com. Also, please share these blog posts with a friend. Help us spread the good word of proper nutrition.

What’s on the Menu – Efficiency Nut

I don’t know who the PR person for walnuts is, but I feel like they’re doing a pretty lackluster job. Pistachios has Richard Sherman and a giant cartoon elephant, voiced by John Cena, telling me to pick up a bag. California almonds have SportsCenter anchors pushing them and it seems like Mr.Peanut as been telling us to eat peanuts, which aren’t nuts, before the TV was even invented. All these nuts are getting positive press, but the walnut is still waiting for its big break.

I think I may have an idea of why walnuts aren’t getting promoted as much as they should. The outside of a shelled walnut is covered in a thin, paper-like “skin” that some people attest to having a bitter taste. The flavor of the skin can be off-putting to certain folks, but much like an apple, there are a ton of nutrients in the skin of a walnut.  It’s believed that 90% of the walnuts beneficial organic compounds are contained in the skin.

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The beneficial compounds contained in walnuts include a special form of vitamin E, hard to find antioxidants and the highest alpha linolenic acid (omega-3) concentration of any nut (source). The positive health aspects of walnuts prompted the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona and Loma Linda University to conduct a study on the daily consumption of walnuts. Preliminary results of the study suggest that daily consumption of 1.5 oz of walnuts can reduce LDL cholesterol & inflammation which can lower your chance of developing heart disease (source).

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If all these health benefits aren’t enough to make you run out to buy a bag of walnuts, the fact that they are one of the cheaper nuts should be all the convincing you need. Raw nuts, which is what you should buy if you want the maximum health benefits, can be a bit pricey. However, compared to cashews, almonds or the luxurious macadamia nut, walnuts are at least $1 cheaper per pound (according to my research).

Walnuts: the nut with the highest ROI. It’s no “get crackin'” but I think it has potential. Let me know if you have any suggestions on what walnuts’ promotional catch phrase should be. You can connect with us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter or email us at elementaltampa@gmail.com.

What’s on the Menu – An Egg-squisite meal

Shannon’s saucy tomato eggs dish is one of my favorite brunch options. I mean favorite of all time!  I prefer it over 90% of the stuff I can order at my favorite brunch restaurant. What’s not to like? Fresh herbs & veggies – good. Italian sausage – good. Eggs – GOOOOOD!!! The combination of ingredients creates an absolute flavor explosion, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my favorite part of this dish. I’m sure you’ve already figured out from the title of this post, that it’s really an homage to eggs.

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Let’s be serious folks, eggs are the best whole food on the planet.

I know vegans will disagree but one egg provides 6g of protein, 5g of fat (1.5g saturated) and 0g of carbs. They also provide essential micronutrients like choline, selenium, and leucine, which is essential to the production of muscle protein (source).

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If the nutritional benefits aren’t enough, the number of ways you can prepare them is almost endless. I don’t want to go on a Bubba Gump-like rant, but you can enjoy eggs fried, poached, scrambled, basted, hard boiled and I’m sure there are preparation methods I don’t even know about.

Before I rest my case on eggs’ superiority, I should mention that all these facts are about WHOLE EGGS. If you have an egg allergy, I get ditching the yolk, but all of you who think you’re being healthier eating only egg whites, you are sadly mistaken. You’re missing out on the vast majority of the nutritional benefits due to outdated nutrition advice, most likely misinformation about cholesterol. I’d recommend checking out Ivor Cummins’ (aka “The Fat Emperor”) website and get educated on why you should be putting whole eggs back on your menu.*

If you’re interested in making some saucy tomato eggs at home, check out the recipe on Shannon’s site.

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If you think you have an egg dish that can rival Shannon’s saucy tomato eggs, which is highly unlikely, send some pics or a recipe our way so we can check it out!

You can always leave us feedback either on Facebook or email us at elementaltampa@gmail.com.

 

*I’m not a certified dietician so you should seek a professional’s input if you have any specific health concerns regarding your diet.

What’s on the Menu – Butter is back!

We’ve been told for decades that this particular food item can be a major obstacle to losing weight and being healthy. I’m talking about the ingredient that is making the dish below glisten like a newly shined automobile.

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That’s right I’m talking about BUTTER!

It seems back in the 1960’s, butter and other saturated fats (e.g. cream, coconut oil, lard) were labeled as unhealthy by our government. This was most likely due to some possibly-bias research provided by Ancel Keys. Keys and his Seven Country Study asserted that individuals that had a higher intake of saturated fat were more apt to develop heart disease. We’ve recently discovered that his research may have been swayed by the Sugar Association and that higher mortality rates were most likely due to the higher consumption of saturated fat in conjunction with sugar.

The debate of who’s right still rages on, but scientists and researchers like Dr. Mark Hyman, Nina Teicholz and Gary Taubes have discovered that saturated fat is not the villain, it was once painted to be.

Now, I don’t want anyone to think they should start eating sticks of butter like Homer Simpson or Paula Deen, but I think it’s safe to say you should feel comfortable to cook eggs, melt and drizzle on steamed veggies, or create a sauce for a delicious salmon dinner (like the one pictured above) using butter.

One tablespoon of butter contains 100 calories and 12 g of total fat (8 g saturated) with no carbs or protein. Not exactly a complete food, but the fat it provides is essential for the production of hormones, energy, and cell membranes (source).

Also, in a world of processed foods with mile-long ingredient lists, a quality butter has AT THE MOST 2 ingredients: cultured pasteurized cream and salt.

It’s important for me to state that I’m not a doctor. Shocked as you all may be, I would never recommend taking my dietary suggestions over those from a medical professional. However, I’m pretty confident that if Shannon, the chef for the meal above, made this dish for a medical professional, they’d agree that butter is BETTER!

We want to see the delicious dishes you’ve made with butter. Tag your photos on social with #ETTampa or leave comments below on how you’ve ditched manufactured vegetable oils for the real thing.