Saturday, 7 May 2022

Complete Guide to Cooking Oils: Health Benefits, Best Uses, and More


Oils are the basis for many favorite recipes and play a major part in various cooking techniques, from sautéing and frying to roasting and baking.

While many recipes specify which oil to use, some don’t. And believe it or not, you may actually get a superior meal by experimenting with something other than what’s called for.

Here’s an overview of the health benefits and best uses of common cooking oils. Keep scrolling below the image for more in-depth information on health benefits and how to store properly.

1. Extra-virgin olive oil

Quite possibly the most well-known and frequently used of cooking oils, extra-virgin olive oil, or EVOO, has earned its reputation as a healthy, versatile fat. It makes an excellent choice for its antioxidant content, heart-healthy fats, and links to cancer prevention.

Because of these benefits, and its widespread availability, you may find yourself using EVOO for absolutely every type of food prep.

But its low smoke point (the temperature at which it begins to degrade and release damaging free radicals) means it’s not always the best oil to use for cooking — at least not cooking at temperatures above 375ºF (191ºC).

For this reason, EVOO is often recommended for colder dishes like dips, salads, and dressings.

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Store in an opaque container in a cool, dark place.

2. Light olive oil

Extra-virgin may get the most attention in the world of olive oils, but its “light” cousin contains many of the same health-boosting properties.

Light olive oil has a far higher smoke point of about 470ºF (243ºC). Therefore, it’s more ideal for high-temperature cooking, like sautéing, roasting, and grilling.

Light olive oil can also be used in baking, but be aware that its flavor may be overpowering. And don’t be fooled by its name. This olive oil doesn’t contain fewer calories than other varieties. Rather, “light” refers to its more neutral taste.

Store in an opaque container in a cool, dark place.

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3. Coconut oil

Like most other oils, coconut comes in two varieties: refined or unrefined (also known as “virgin”).

Refined coconut oil has a smoke point of 450ºF (232ºC). It works well for sautéing or roasting and has a neutral, light-coconut taste.

Virgin coconut oil, on the other hand, offers more signature coconut flavor and can be used at temperatures up to 350ºF (177ºC). Both are also suitable for baking with a 1:1 ratio for butter or other oils.

Coconut oil has seen its share of controversy over its healthiness recently, so check out our analysis of the evidence around its health benefits.

Store in a glass container in a cool, dark place.

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4. Canola and other vegetable oils

Now a kitchen staple, canola oil was developed in the 1970s by researchers at the University of Manitoba — hence the prefix “can” for Canada.

While other vegetable oils come from a blend of vegetables (which, depending on labeling, may remain a mystery), canola oil is always derived from rapeseed plants.

The refining process of both canola and other vegetable oils leaves them with a neutral taste and medium-high smoke point of 400ºF (204ºC). This makes them useful for stir-frying, sautéing, grilling, frying, and baking.

Health information about canola and other vegetable oils can be conflicting, so check out our guide to their benefits and drawbacks.

Store in a cool, dark place.

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5. Avocado oil

If you know that avocados are chock-full of healthy monounsaturated fats, you won’t be surprised to learn that their oil is, too.

In addition to a high content of these good fats, avocado oil boasts the highest known smoke point of any plant oil — 520ºF (271ºC) for refined and up to 480ºF (249ºC) for unrefined. It’s a rock star for frying, searing, roasting, and grilling.

Though avocado oil is considered a carrier oil that lets other flavors shine, choose the refined version if you prefer a mild, unobtrusive taste.

Store in a cool, dark place or in the refrigerator for longer preservation.

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6. Peanut oil

There’s a reason peanut oil is so often used in Thai, Chinese, and other Asian cuisines. The refined variety, with a smoke point of 450ºF (232ºC), is wonderfully conducive to high-temperature stir-frying.

It also works well in large-batch frying, which is why the food industry heavily relies upon it for menu items like french fries and fried chicken.

Unrefined peanut oil, on the other hand, has a smoke point of 320ºF (160ºC). Add it to dressings or marinades for extra flavor. See our guide for information on peanut oil’s health effects.

Store in a cool, dark place.

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7. Sesame oil

Sesame oil just may be the unsung hero your cooking needs. With plenty of monounsaturated fats and antioxidants, it rivals olive oil as a healthy choice for cooking.

A mid-range smoke point of anywhere from 350 to 400ºF (177 to 204ºC) means it can be used in stir-frying and sautéing as well as adding flavor as a condiment.

Store in the refrigerator for best results.

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--- Source - Healthline

Tuesday, 3 May 2022

Hydrangea Root - Benefits


What is hydrangea root?

The genus Hydrangea is made up of over 70 plant species that belong to the Hydrangeaceae family (1).

Out of these, Hydrangea paniculataHydrangea macrophylla, and Hydrangea arborescens are the most popular when it comes to medicinal properties.

H. paniculata and H. macrophylla are native to Asia, while H. arborescens is native to the eastern United States.

Other common names for these species include hortensia, seven bark, wild hydrangea, smooth hydrangea, bigleaf hydrangea, and mophead hydrangea.

Hydrangea root is a supplement made from these plant’s roots and underground stems, also known as the rhizomes.

The supplement has been used in folk medicine for hundreds of years to treat prostate and bladder infections due to its purported diuretic effects — meaning its ability to increase urine output. However, no available scientific evidence backs up this claim.

It’s also speculated that it might help treat kidney and bladder stones and enlarged prostate.

Potential benefits

Test-tube and animal studies suggest that some hydrangea root compounds may provide medicinal benefits.

May protect your kidneys

Elevated levels of certain blood markers are associated with kidney injury. Studies in mice indicate that hydrangea extract may lower some of these markers (2Trusted Source3Trusted Source).

For example, high levels of blood urea nitrogen (BUN) indicate kidney damage. Studies in animals with medically induced kidney injury found that hydrangea extract significantly reduced BUN levels (3Trusted Source4Trusted Source).

One of these studies also observed less kidney damage in mice treated with the extract, compared with a control group (3Trusted Source).

Another study similarly found that skimmin, an active molecule found in hydrangea extract, reduced BUN, blood creatinine, and urinary albumin excretion (UAE) in mice with kidney inflammation. High creatinine and UAE levels also indicate kidney dysfunction (5Trusted Source).

What’s more, research in mice determined that the extract improved medicinally induced kidney injury by downregulating kidney inflammation and cell death, although the effect was only observed in cases of previously damaged kidneys (2Trusted Source).

Still, despite these promising results, human studies are needed.

May have anti-inflammatory properties

Hydrangea root is rich in a compound called coumarin. Both coumarin and its derivative skimmin may offer anti-inflammatory properties.

Inflammation can lead to increased levels of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), interleukin 1 beta (IL-1β), nitric oxide (NO), and interleukin 6 (IL-6) — all of which are known as pro-inflammatory markers (6Trusted Source).

Animal research suggests that both coumarin and skimmin may inhibit NO production and IL-6 activation and suppress the upregulation of TNF-α and IL-1β (2Trusted Source3Trusted Source5Trusted Source).

Additionally, in one study in mice hydrangea root extract inhibited the infiltration of inflammatory cells like macrophages and neutrophils into kidney tissue, which suggests another potential anti-inflammatory mechanism (2Trusted Source).

Lastly, in addition to coumarin and skimmin, the extract contains loganin and sweroside, two compounds known for their anti-inflammatory activities (2Trusted Source).

All this being said, keep in mind that research in humans is lacking.

May have antioxidant effects

If there are too many reactive oxygen species (ROS) in your body, a phenomenon called oxidative stress can occur, which can lead to tissue damage and other detrimental health effects (7Trusted Source).

Thankfully, molecules known as antioxidants protect against oxidative stress and said damage (8Trusted Source).

Coumarins in hydrangea root have antioxidant properties. For example, a mouse study found that hydrangea extract significantly reduced oxidative stress, suggesting potent antioxidant effects (2Trusted Source).

Similarly, another study determined that the extract significantly lowered oxidative stress markers such as NO and malondialdehyde (MDA) in mice (3Trusted Source).

It’s important to note that these benefits have not been confirmed in research in humans.

Other potential benefits

While research in humans is lacking, it’s speculated that hydrangea root may also:

  • Lower blood sugar levels. Test-tube studies and animal research indicate that the compound skimmin in hydrangea root may relieve insulin resistance and enhance blood sugar uptake (9Trusted Source).
  • Protect your liver. Test-tube research has found multiple compounds in hydrangea stems that may protect from liver toxicity (10Trusted Source11Trusted Source).
  • Provide cancer-fighting properties. One test-tube study determined that hydrangenol, another compound present in hydrangeas, may inhibit bladder cancer cell reproduction and spread (12Trusted Source).


Hydrangea root may protect from kidney damage and provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory

 effects, among other benefits. However, keep in mind that research in humans is needed.

Source Healthline

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Tuesday, 18 January 2022

Berberine – A Powerful Supplement With Many Benefits

A compound called berberine is one of the most effective natural supplements available.

It has very impressive health benefits, and affects your body at the molecular level.

Berberine has been shown to lower blood sugar, cause weight loss and improve heart health, to name a few.

It is one of the few supplements shown to be as effective as a pharmaceutical drug.

This is a detailed review of berberine and its health effects.

What Is Berberine?

Berberine is a bioactive compound that can be extracted from several different plants, including a group of shrubs called Berberis.

Technically, it belongs to a class of compounds called alkaloids. It has a yellow colour, and has often been used as a dye.

Berberine has a long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine, where it was used to treat various ailments.

Now, modern science has confirmed that it has impressive benefits for several different health problems.

How Does It Work?

Berberine has now been tested in hundreds of different studies.

It has been shown to have powerful effects on many different biological systems.

After you ingest berberine, it gets taken in by the body and transported into the bloodstream. Then it travels into the body’s cells.

Inside the cells, it binds to several different “molecular targets” and changes their function. This is similar to how pharmaceutical drugs work.

I am not going to get into much detail here, because the biological mechanisms are complicated and diverse.

However, one of the main actions of berberine is to activate an enzyme inside cells called AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK).

This enzyme is sometimes referred to as a “metabolic master switch”.

It is found in the cells of various organs, including the brain, muscle, kidney, heart and liver. This enzyme plays a major role in regulating metabolism.

Berberine also affects various other molecules inside cells, and may even affect which genes are turned on or off 

It Causes a Major Reduction in Blood Sugar Levels

Type 2 diabetes is a serious disease that has become incredibly common in recent decades, causing millions of deaths every year.

It is characterized by elevated blood sugar (glucose) levels, either caused by insulin resistance or lack of insulin.

Over time, high blood sugar levels can damage the body’s tissues and organs, leading to various health problems and a shortened lifespan.

Many studies show that berberine can significantly reduce blood sugar levels in individuals with type 2 diabetes.

In fact, its effectiveness is comparable to the popular diabetes drug metformin (Glucophage.

It seems to work via multiple different mechanisms.

  • Decreases insulin resistance, making the blood sugar lowering hormone insulin more effective.
  • Increases glycolysis, helping the body break down sugars inside cells.
  • Decrease sugar production in the liver.
  • Slows the breakdown of carbohydrates in the gut.
  • Increases the number of beneficial bacteria in the gut.

In one study of 116 diabetic patients, 1 gram of berberine per day lowered fasting blood sugar by 20%, from 7.0 to 5.6 mmol/L (126 to 101 mg/dL), or from diabetic to normal levels.

It also lowered hemoglobin A1c by 12% (a marker for long-term blood sugar levels), and also improved blood lipids like cholesterol and triglycerides.

According to a big review of 14 studies, berberine is as effective as oral diabetes drugs, including metformin, glipizide and rosiglitazone.

It works very well with lifestyle modifications, and also has additive effects when administered with other blood sugar lowering drugs.

If you look at discussions online, you often see people with sky-high blood sugars literally normalizing them just by taking this supplement.

This stuff really works, in both the studies and the real world.

Berberine May Help You Lose Weight

Berberine may also be effective as a weight loss supplement.

So far, two studiesTrusted Source have examined the effects on body weight.

In a 12-week study in obese individuals, 500 mg taken three times per day caused about 5 pounds of weight loss, on average. The participants also lost 3.6% of their body fat.

Another more impressive study was conducted in 37 men and women with metabolic syndrome. This study went on for 3 months, and the participants took 300 mg, 3 times per day.

The participants dropped their body mass index (BMI) levels from 31.5 to 27.4, or from obese to overweight in only 3 months. They also lost belly fat and improved many health markers.

The researchers believe that the weight loss is caused by improved function of fat-regulating hormones, such as insulin, adiponectin and leptin.

Berberine also appears to inhibit the growth of fat cells at the molecular level.

However, more research is needed on the weight loss effects of berberine.

It Lowers Cholesterol and May Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease

Heart disease is currently the world’s most common cause of premature death.

Many factors that can be measured in the blood are associated with an increased risk of heart disease.

As it turns out, berberine has been shown to improve many of these factors.

According to a review of 11 studies, it can.

  • Lower total cholesterol by 0.61 mmol/L (24 mg/dL).
  • Lower LDL cholesterolTrusted Source by 0.65 mmol/L (25 mg/dL).
  • Lower blood triglycerides by 0.50 mmol/L (44 mg/dL).
  • Raise HDL cholesterol by 0.05 mmol/L (2 mg/dL).

It has also been shown to lower apolipoprotein B by 13-15%, which is a very important risk factor.

According to some studies, berberine works by inhibiting an enzyme called PCSK9. This leads to more LDL being removed from the bloodstream.

Keep in mind that diabetes, high blood sugar levels and obesity are also major risk factors for heart disease, all of which seem to be improved with this supplement.

Given the beneficial effects on all these risk factors, it seems likely that berberine could drastically reduce the risk of heart disease.

Other Health Benefits

Berberine may also have numerous other health benefits:

Many of these benefits need more research before firm recommendations can be made, but the current evidence is very promising.

Dosage and Side Effects

Many of the studies cited in the article used dosages in the range of 900 to 1500 mg per day.

It is common to take 500 mg, 3 times per day, before meals (a total of 1500 mg per day).

Berberine has a half-life of several hours, so it is necessary to spread your dosage to several times per day to achieve stable blood levels.

If you have a medical condition or are on any medications, then it is recommended that you speak to your doctor before taking it.

This is especially important if you are currently taking blood sugar lowering medications.

Overall, berberine has an outstanding safety profile. The main side effects are related to digestion, and there are some reports of cramping, diarrhea, flatulence, constipation and stomach pain.

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