Why deep-fried food is such a bad food (even in moderate amounts)

deep-fried food

There is really no shortage of bad food out there – probably around 80% of what you can buy at grocery stores or restaurants is harmful to you in some way.  Some items merely require caution – and very close attention to their source and quality.  Some others, however, fall into the “really bad foods” category – no matter where or how you get them.

One common type of such really bad food has more to do with the cooking method used, rather than the ingredients – because if you use this cooking method, you can easily destroy even the healthiest product and turn it into poison.

The cooking method we are talking about is deep-frying.  It is used extensively by restaurants and also, to a large extent – by home cooks, with a wide variety of home-use deep-fryers available on the market.

While the chefs (and sometimes even the scientists who are behind the modernist cuisine movement) have been focusing primarily on perfecting sensory characteristics of deep-fried food (such as French fries) – perfect crisp, creamy center, even color – the health impact of those deep-fried foods has not been in the center of attention much.  And when it has – the focus was on all the wrong things – and changes introduced as a result had the opposite effect.

For instance, until 1990s, fast food restaurants (think McDonald’s) used to deep-fry their French fries in beef tallow.  But as a result of fear-mongering around saturated fat and cholesterol it was replaced by a mixture of plant-based and chemically-extracted oils.

Since then, the matter has only gotten worse.  These days, with the variety of techniques and equipment, people can (and do) deep fry anything – which typically happens in the same plant oil medium.  Most ethnic cuisines (or at least what is represented as such in the Western world) have some staple deep-fried foods to brag about – Indian samosas, Spanish churros, Chinese spring rolls, Middle Eastern falafel, Japanese tempura or the all-American French fries and onion rings are just a few examples.  But there is really no limit to what else you can deep-fry – anything goes and the choices range from jelly beans, Mars bars and Oreos to silkworms and even such oddities as Coca Cola or ice cream.

It is understandable why deep-fried food is hard to resist – this cooking technique definitely creates something very appealing for the human palate.  Food that is crispy and crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside and infused with flavors originating from the Maillard reaction and caramelization of sugars awakens cravings that seem to be hardwired into our brains.

“Tasty”, however, doesn’t always mean “healthy”.  In fact, deep-fried foods are probably the pinnacle of “unhealthy”.  Deep-fried food is the worst foods to eat in a restaurant, period – and a lot of the reasons behind this statement might sound new to you, until you read them below.

What makes deep-fried food such a bad food?  There is no shortage of arguments – let’s look at a few.

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Saturated fat & unsaturated fat: what you didn’t know about bad fats and good fats

saturated fat and unsaturated fat examples

For many years, when people talked about healthy eating, any low-fat diet was a staple.  The USDA food pyramid and its equivalents produced by government authorities responsible for making sure we eat well have been vilifying fat for decades.  American Heart Association still recommends limiting foods containing saturated fat, such as butter or red meat – and to go for leanest cuts whenever you do eat red meat.  They still recommend “replacing foods that are high in saturated fat with healthier options can lower blood cholesterol levels and improve lipid profiles”.  In their own words:

“You should replace foods high in saturated fat with foods high in monounsaturated and/or polyunsaturated fat. This means eating foods made with liquid vegetable oil but not tropical oils”.

Canadian Heart and Stroke foundation recommends something along the same lines: they recommend mono- and poly-unsaturated fat over saturated fat (ironically, the “Healthy Recipes” project on their website is funded by by CanolaInfo.org – a website supported by Canada’s canola growers, crop input suppliers, exporters, processors and food manufacturers – does anyone see any conflict of interest?).

At the same time, these authorities have no problem recommending low-fat products, whole grains and loads of sweet fruits.

Food processing industry caught on pretty early with all this low-fat craze and flooded the market with a wide variety of food-like items that were branded as “heart-healthy”.  Ironically, this has not stopped the obesity epidemic – as we saw in a recent article, obesity rates in North America have quadrupled over the last 30 years – the same 30 years that the war on fat has been raging with full force.

The reason why this didn’t work is simple – dietary fat rarely makes you fat.  But a lot of other ingredients used in processed foods do — as the fat went out of food, in went the sugars, artificial flavors, and other fillers that add bulk and empty calories, but reduce food quality and nutritional value.

What’s more, fat (granted it is the right kind of fat — and no, it’s typically not the kind of fat that is being glorified by those same nutrition authorities) doesn’t make you sick either (as previously discussed, all these fears around cholesterol that lead to the creation of a multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical industry are generally unfunded).

So what do you need to know about fat?  What fats are good and what fats are bad?  Does the amount or type of fat you eat make any difference?  Which foods have the good fats to support your health?  Which foods should you absolutely avoid?

Keep reading to find out!

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Soy: friend or foe?

Soy

If you look at the history of soy production and consumption, until around World War II it was basically limited to only a few Asian countries – and even then never reached any significant proportions, compared to what we have today.  Then, within a few decades, soy has been promoted to a “miracle food” pushed into anything Big Agra could get their hands on (think of soy milk, soybean oil, soy meal, tofu, tamari, tempeh, soy protein powders and even soy-based baby formula, among all others).  Ingredients derived from soybeans – very often used in processed foods – include: soy flour, soy protein, soy isolates, soy lecithin, textured vegetable protein (TVP), hydrolyzed soy protein and more.

It has gotten to a point, where soybeans are now second largest crop grown in the US and, ironically, China, where soybeans are said to have originated, is now the single largest consumer of US-grown soybeans.

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Genetically modified organisms: the real facts

Genetically Modified Organisms

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are restricted or banned in more than 60 countries in the world, but happily ingested by unsuspecting consumers in the USA, Canada, China, India, Brazil, Paraguay, South Africa, Uruguay, Australia and many other countries.

Even if a country does not commercially grow genetically modified crops (like the EU, for example, that only had small-scale field trials so far) doesn’t necessarily mean that population in that country is not consuming them – with Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) now in place, US may import genetically modified crops into EU (which they do).  This includes human food, animal feed, agricultural crops and products from GMO- fed animals.

What’s the big deal?  Let’s take a closer look.

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Nourishing good bacteria to improve health

bad and good bacteria

How bad and good bacteria influence everything in your life

You have 100 trillion bacteria in your gut.  This is 10 times the number of all other cells in all your other tissues combined.

You may not think much of bacteria and, in fact, try to eradicate it when you get a chance (using anti-bacterial sanitizers, soaps and shampoos to clean yourself up and gobbling up antibiotics when you get sick) – the symbiotic relationship of your gut bacteria with the rest of your biology has some people argue that we are nothing more than just vessels and vehicles for bacteria that control what we do, how we eat and how long we live – all as a part of a devious plan to ensure their survival and domination.

While this sounds a bit too much like science fiction, the reality may not be very far from it when you start considering a few facts.  We mostly think of our intestinal flora in the context of digestion problems, gas and stomach pains (and an odd yogurt advertised on TV), but it is so much more than just that.

In fact, your microbiome (gut bacteria) are responsible for a wide variety of functions, such as:

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Coconut Oil – key benefits (#3 will surprise you!)

Coconut Oil

Introduction – is coconut oil healthy?

A typical consumer of coconut oil uses it for frying or baking.  But on top of potentially being the best cooking oil (it does this specific job exceptionally well, as we will soon see) – it has a large number of other surprising applications.  Health benefits of coconut oil are so numerous that whole books have been dedicated to this Superfood!

Here are just a few common uses of coconut oil:

  • Adding texture and flavor to smoothies
  • Moisturizing skin, hair or lips
  • Applying topically to treat burns and cuts
  • Cooking
  • Using it as mild natural sunscreen
  • Fighting bacteria or fungi
  • Removing make-up
  • Using it as natural lubricant or massage oil
  • Treating flaky nail cuticles
  • Using it as an aftershave
  • Fighting acne
  • Relieving itching related to insect bites
  • Treating leather
  • Removing gum stuck to hair (apparently, it still happens to some people!)

This is not an exhaustive list by any means, and while some of those uses of coconut oil may not apply to you, let’s explore what makes it so outstanding.

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Oils and fats that rule your life (and lethal dangers of making wrong choices)

In an endless quest to eat ”healthier” that started many decades ago, most people in the developed world have permanently moved to “light” plant oils, foregoing saturated animal fats.

But I bet if you ask the majority of people why they instinctively reach for “healthier” oils and feel guilty about indulging in, say, a little butter – they wouldn’t be able to answer clearly.  You might hear some cliché references to “artery-clogging cholesterol”, “Omega-6” or “Omega-3”, “heart-attack”, or even “obesity” sometimes, but you probably will not get any reliable answer.

Yet, a mere presence of fat in any food strikes horrors into people’s hearts who fear cardiovascular disease, strokes and extra weight.  The origins of these fears are long lost among misinterpretation, deliberate falsification and dissemination of data resembling a broken telephone game, with assumptions about fats snowballing and gaining momentum with unrelated and scientifically unverified hypotheses building layer upon layer.   The result of misinterpreted studies originating in 1950s, publicized by media and eagerly spread by agricultural companies, benefiting from a surge in plant oil sales, lobbying and continuing influence by crop growers on public health policies and general folklore has been so deeply ingrained into our minds and continuously regurgitated by glossy magazines that we often don’t question this any longer, just knowing that choosing plant oils over saturated fats is the right thing to do.  After all, this is what your doctor would recommend, after prescribing a statin drug in an attempt to lower your cholesterol.

But there are a few very important things missing from this picture – things that are not as widely known but that define, however, whether you play along with companies that want you to believe whatever benefits them financially or whether you finally take your health into your own hands and make the right choice. Decisions you make today can significantly impact your health and well-being – and it is extremely easy to make wrong ones, given how much you are nudged toward them.  This article will help you understand the consequences of such decisions.

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Importance of reading ingredient lists and nutrition labels – Part I

It never ceases to amaze me how many people still don’t pay any attention whatsoever to what they eat, despite the fact that even the most stubborn medical minds acknowledge that our diets control pretty much everything that happens in our body – diseases, performance, longevity, mood – you name it.  This is even more discouraging, given that a lot of that information is available to consumers – you just have to put two and two together (and, perhaps, know what to look for).  This article will discuss the caveats of nutrition labels and ingredient lists – what to look for, what to avoid, and how not to fall prey to sneaky marketing tactics used by some food manufacturers. This knowledge should be your governing principle when buying any packaged food.

You already know that to achieve an Alpha-level performance, what you eat matters more than anything else – mess this component up and you will never achieve any meaningful long-term goals in anything else.  The ground rules are simple – most of the time, your best choice is mono-ingredient food.  You know, the stuff that is not pre-packaged, the stuff that only has one ingredient in it – fresh produce, fresh meat, fish, etc.  Once you start venturing into packaged foods, chances are you are going to end up with less of a food, but more of a food substitute – a cocktail of processed offcuts or rejected produce and added chemicals, stripped of most nutrients and cooked using highly inflammatory oils.  Not a very appetizing picture, regardless of the pretty colors and ridiculous claims made on those boxes.

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