The Plantbased & Un-cooked Experience

Healthy Fats

Why are essential fats so important, and what is the best balance? How do you choose the best fats for your health, and which ones should be avoided?

We all need the good healthy fats to thrive, but the big question for many people is, which ones to choose and which ones to avoid. Also which role do fats really play in regards to our health? We have been told that the poly-unsaturated fatty acids Omega-3 and 6 are very important to our health, and in reality most people don’t really know why or pay close attention to this. The fact is, that if we don’t get them and in the right balance, inflammation occur and we become sick. Some of the inflammation diseases that are most common today are: diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, alzheimers, autoimmune disease and many types of cancer. DHA’s are very important for brain health. If you are raising vegan children, DHA’s should be your one of your main supplements to add in, or your child could suffer from abnormal growth and brain development.

Our bodies do not have the enzymes needed to produce omega 3’s and 6’s, so we must get them through our diet. Omega 3’s and 6’s are not stored in the body or used for energy. They are biologically active, and important substances when it comes to blood clotting and inflammation.

The biggest problem with the Western diet is that people consume way too many omega 6 fatty acids, and too little of the omega 3’s. Omega-6’s are pro-inflammatory and the omega-3’s have an anti-inflammatory effect. Inflammation is essential for human survival, as it protects the body from infection and injury, but it can also cause damage and contribute to disease when the inflammatory response is excessive. A diet high in omega-6’s and low in omega-3’s increase the risk of inflammation.

A high intake of omega-6’s create a health risk, as the double bonds in the fatty acid molecules are very reactive. They tend to react with oxygen and forms chain reactions of free radicals and can cause damage to molecules in the cells, and then we are suddenly dealing with cancer and rapid aging.

In the industrialized society, people have a typical ratio of 16:1 (due to all the processed foods they eat), where our forefathers the  hunter-gathers had a ratio of 4:1 and 1:1. Humans are not genetically adapted to take such a high intake of omega-6’s so we end up with various health risks as mentioned above. The solution is not to add in a lot of omega-3’s to balance things out, but rather to have a good balance between the two.

So the message is clear: Stay away from processed foods, and fats and oils, as they contain high amounts of omega-6’s. Most seed and vegetable oils have an overload of omega-6’s plus a lot of them are highly processed. These unnatural fats are leading to changes in our body fat stores and cell membranes all over the body. High amounts of omega 6’s are associated with cardiovascular disease, due to the pro-inflammatory effect and lead to depression, violence, mental disorders, heart disease etc.

Here’s a list of the fats and oils you should stay away from, and remember that most processed foods contain these oils. My advice is to ALWAYS read the labels on food, if you buy it pre-made, and ask in the restaurants you go to. Even vegetarian and vegan restaurants use canola oil, so don’t be fooled.

Oils that are high in omega 6’s and should be avoided:

  • Soy bean oil

  • Canola oil

  • Sunflower oil

  • Cotton seed oil

  • Corn oil

  • Peanut oil

  • Safflower oil

  • Sesame oil

  • Grapeseed oil

Canola oil

This oil is so widely used in the food industry, that it deserves a paragraph of it’s own. Canola stands for Canada oil, and is just a marketing word, nothing else. This oil is made from rapeseed and the oil has been used for industrial purpose for a long time. Rapeseed oil was never an edible oil, as it contains Erucic acid and Glucosinolates, that made the oil taste very bitter. Scientists fixed this problem, and created the “wonder oil” that we now know as canola oil. In 1995 Monsanto the biotech company created GMO rapeseed (genetically engineered), so we now have about 90% of the worlds rapeseed bioengineered. Most people are aware of the big health risk with GMO’s, especially cancer, so this is definitely not an oil you want to consume. Keep in mind, that canola oil contain toxic trans fats after the processing, and everyone knows that trans fats are very harmful and cause heart disease.

Check out this video to see how canola oil is made and decide for yourself, if you think this is a healthy oil, that you would want to eat and don’t forget to factor in the GMO effect which is not mentioned.

The important thing is to have healthy oils in your own kitchen at all times. Oils should be cold-pressed (un-refined) and tapped in an oxygen free environment and put on dark glass bottles. Always store your oil in a cool, dry and dark, e.g.. the refrigerator. If oils are stored in places with high temperatures, they go rancid. Also buy oils in small batches, so you eat them before the go bad.

The oils that are good for you:

  • Olive oil (extra virgin, cold pressed)

  • Coconut oil – (only use organic virgin)

  • Flax oil

  • Avocado oil

  • Hemp oil

  • Macadamia oil

The two must have oils are extra-virgin coconut oil and olive oil. Coconut oil is the best oil. It’s rich in lauric acid, which helps improves cholesterol and kills bacteria. Coconut oil is the best oil for cooking with heat. It contains saturated fats, and they can handle cooking at high temperatures without forming free radicals and other harmful compounds like eg. olive oil does. Olive oil can raise the good cholesterol (HDL) and lower the bad cholesterol called LDL. Both of these oils are great to use in smoothies, salads and everything else where you need a healthy oil (along with flax oil, hemp oil and avocado oil).

Be aware that most other seed and vegetable oils are highly refined and most have an overload of omega-6’s. These oils are not heart-healthy, even though this is what we have been told from the so-called experts. Stay away from all of these oils.

So how do you get the omega 3’s from a supplement?

I personally prefer and trust Udo’s oil, which has the perfect balance of omega 3,6 and 9’s. The other best source of vegan/vegetarian DHA is made from micro algaes. I have tried several types, and I have to say, I really feel the difference with Udo’s oil, even though it’s tough to swallow a 1 oz. liquid oil (I do add a piece of pineapple or orange right after that to tolerate it) 🙂

Also I want to state that chia seeds are a great food, but not the best source for getting your DHA’s. Most of the omega-3’s contain ALA’s which are hard for the body to use – they need to be converted in to EPA and DHA’s. Chia seeds are very high in the Omega-3 fatty acid ALA. However, humans are not good at converting this into DHA, the most important Omega-3 fatty acid. So even though the health benefits of chia are great, they are not your best source of omega-3’s.

If you are not vegan or vegetarian (I feel this is important to address) and insist on taking fish oils. ONLY take fish oils from wild alaskan salmon. These have the lowest amount of mercury.

The truth about superfoods!

What are the superior super foods and how come they are showing up everywhere? Which one is the better? Chia, goji, cacao, acai, activated almonds, sprouted seeds? Why is there constantly a new superfood that we just need to have? Where are super foods coming from and are they really that great?

Reality is, that not all foods are created equally, and you don’t need a degree in nutrition to know, that one type of food can be better for you than another.

It seems like no matter which website you go to or what magazine you open, you see the ads for super foods, and are reminded that your smoothie is not complete without a daily dose of super foods. Your day is simply not complete without chia, hemp, acai or a huge scoop of protein powder, maca or supergreens.

When you are in the health store or in your local supermarket you see all the exotic foods on the shelves called super foods, and it can be hard to know which one is the better. Should you choose the package of goji berries or the fresh local blueberries or maybe even both? It’s a good question, which I will try and demystify.

See I have been a super food addict for the past 7 years. We are not talking a few super foods in small doses or varieties. No I think I have tried almost every so-called superfood which we know of and used it in high amounts on a daily basis. I know my super foods and I know how they impact and don’t impact the body, the immune defense and the brain, which is why I wanted to write this article, so you can make better choices and spend your money where it’s important.

First, it’s important to know, that the term super foods is a 100% marketing word. Europe banned the word in 2007, and people in the health community said that the freedom of speech about health was gone. The term superfood was initially a way to describe foods from around the world, that supposedly had superior nutritional properties. Wikipedia defines a superfood as “food with high nutrient or phytochemical content that may confer health benefits, with few properties considered to be negative.” Personally I don’t care what they call a food, for me it’s more important than ever to know the nutritional value, if I like the flavor, the potency of the product, sustainability and I feel a difference.

The global market for so-called “functional foods” (A food that is given additional function in terms of health promotion or disease prevention) is expected to reach 130 billion  by 2015 according to Global Industry Analysts . With so much money at stake, the superfood trend has been co-opted to sell everything from blueberries to vitamin supplements, to exotic powders and chlorophyll to add to your smoothies. So the target is your wallet and they don’t care about you and your health, it’s about the money, as in every other industry. So please don’t fool yourself. It’s ok to buy those things, as long as you know the motive of the sellers.

The interesting thing about this business is, that every year, we see the magic of a new “wonder food” appearing from a land far away. And the message is usually something like “miracles will happen when you add this special powder to your smoothie” …. and they just made another x million dollars. You don’t know if their claims on the potency of this product is real or not, all you know is, that you got this powder and it has some magical health claims on the package. Some still argue that soil depletion, environmental pollution, physical and mental stress, aging, hormone imbalances, cancer etc. makes regular food not good enough when it comes to nutritional value. Well, I have something to say about that.

Most people do not ever eat vegetables and fruit. I have come across so many people who don’t ever eat vegetables or never has, and If and when they eat them, the amounts are so small, that a rabbit could hardly survive. Variety is also so limited, that I would ring the food alarm. In many cases, a salad is not a salad, a meal hardly ever sees a vegetable, and if there is a vegetable or fruit, there is so few and they are prepared in a way, that all nutritional value is destroyed, they are non-organic and that’s where the real problem is. That’s where we should start, looking at how and what we eat and the quality of the food we eat.

The downside of these super foods is that they actually carry a heavy environmental and social footprint. Transporting food is among the fastest growing sources of green-house gas emissions according to the World Watch Institute. Each year, more than 817 million tons of food are shipped around the planet. The energy and emissions used for this is 4 times the energy used for local produce. We should also question how these super foods are harvested. I will at all times question sustainability and how the local environments are protected, as most super foods come from 3rd world countries like South America, China, Tibet and South East Asia. Are the local people paid fair wages?

The other day I saw an article from Africa, where the cacao farmers who grow and harvest cacao, never had tried a piece of chocolate until the reporter gave them some. Fair trade, really?

In Bolivia, the local people can no longer afford to eat the famous super food quinoa. This is due to the high demand from the US market. The local people are malnourished, because they can’t afford to eat this luxury food themselves, so they have to go to the store and buy low quality refined grains and live like pheasants. The soil is also getting depleted due to the high demand. Quinoa is a great food, but one of those with a very high price tag. A food, that we should use in moderation only, and not as the main food on the table. To me the quinoa market is no different than factory farming – in this case it’s humans, that suffer from low wages, malnutrition and their land is being destroyed and depleted to meet the high demand of the health conscious and middle men, who are selling the grains for big money in the developed world.

Don’t take me wrong on this, super foods can be great, and especially if you are a non vegetable or fruit eater, but there are other solutions and more sustainable ways to get your nutrients.

The tale of the best ever vegetable

Broccoli is such a unique vegetable, and it should be among the most popular on your plate. It’s good for the bones, heart, brain and it’s said to prevent cancer.

During the Summer, I reflect on the food my kids have been eating in the past year, and it gives me a chance to upgrade or change things that will benefit their growth and age group. I currently have the pleasure of dealing with a pre-teen, who is rebelling against vegetables. Really? It is kindda funny when you are vegan, but I have to deal with this on a daily basis now (and this kid has always asked for his broccoli and good old veggies since he was able to talk). Negotiation is on-going every single day now, and the battle is tough, when the hormones are raging, but I am the type of mom who don’t give up that easily, I just have to use different sales and production strategies. 🙂

I know my kids have been eating a lot of stuff most kids and adults are never exposed to, but one item is definitely on the top of the list, when it comes to vegetables in most homes, and it’s the incredible broccoli.

Broccoli is one of those vegetables that really doesn’t have a lot of flavor to it, but in terms of nutrition, it ranks among the kings and queens of vegetables, and it has very few calories if that’s your focus.

Nutrient dense food can strengthen our immune system and help us fight disease, and there is nothing new about that. Hippocrates said this more than 2000 years ago with the statement: “Let thy food be thy medicine”. But something happened in our society. Fast food and vegetables became less important, and grains and soy foods became the new way of feeding the ever growing world population. The good news – In the last 20 years or so, we have seen a shift from looking at food as a source of energy, to a source of staying healthy and living longer and feeling and looking more youthful, as we age.

It’s so easy to only focus the talk on super foods these days, but its really more important to focus on real food, that grows in our own regions, food that is sustainable, organic and available (Broccoli is best from October – May), packed with nutrients, easy to grow, fills up the belly and is easy to make in so many different ways. Regular food, that most people can relate to and afford. On top of the list is definitely broccoli.

The power of broccoli

Broccoli originates in Italy, and is known as Brassica oleracea. It’s from a powerful group of vegetables, we know as cruciferous vegetables: cabbage, cauliflower, kale, brussels sprouts, collard greens, savoy, cress, boo choy, kohlrabi and chinese kale. In it’s wild form, broccoli is known as wild mustard.

Brocollini is a mix between broccoli and kale and broccoloflower is a mix between broccoli and cauliflower. Broccoli sprouts are very popular and known for their high content of the cancer phytochemical sulforaphane.

Looking at a broccoli, we see it has similarities with the human brain, so one might think this is natures sign of showing us, which area of the body that benefits the most. (brain, ganglion, nervous system that modulate immune response).

Broccoli is stuffed with vitamins and minerals like Vitamin A, B, C, E, K, folic acid, iron, calcium, phosphor, and magnesium. It’s also rich in various bioactive plant substances called glucosinolates, which helps cabbage to defend itself against unwelcome insects and substances that can attack with disease. Studies shows that the substances that protects the plants, also help protect us humans against disease, incl. certain types of cancer. Broccoli stand out from other vegetables, as it contains the substances called sulforaphane.

Sulforaphane activates genes that take care of the production of detoxifying enzymes. They can collect the insoluble carcinogenic substances in the cells and link them together with soluble substances and transport the substances out of the body, through the blood stream. There has been many trial tests on broccoli, broccoli sprouts, and it all shows that when people eat a diet high in broccoli, it impacts the health in a positive way.

Good for the heart and bones

Broccoli contain flavonoids and carotenoid substances, that are said to protect against cardiovascular disease. Calcium is a very important mineral for the body, as it supports healthy bones and teeth. The best way to get calcium is through natural food sources and NOT calcium supplements (pills) or dairy, as the dairy industry have had people believe for a long time now (read my article/blog post on calcium).

Calcium from vegetables is very easy for the body to absorb, because it does not contain oxalic acid. Oxalic acid is found in high amounts in vegetables like spinach, rhubarb leaves, and also in beet greens and chard (this is why these have such a sharp taste to them). Even though the concentration is pretty low in these vegetables, the above mentioned have so much, that it can interfere with the absorption of calcium. The extra benefit from broccoli and other greens are, that they contain a lot of vitamin C, which help with the absorption of calcium.


Broccoli is a great bacteria killer. It can help getting rid of heliobacter pylori, which has been found present in people with chronic gastritis and gastric ulcers. Studies in Japan, has shown that a daily portion of broccoli can reduce the bacteria and heal the gut.

How to make broccoli

In order to activate the health benefits of broccoli, there are three healthy ways to prepare them:

a) Raw, b) Just kissed, c) Steamed d) Quick stir-fry

Raw: You can add broccoli to salads, soups, smoothies and raw dishes. When The trick is always in the chopping and marinating. A dehydrator can be used to prepare “warm” un-cooked broccoli dishes. You can get the insides to this in my classes.

Just kissed: Boil the water, add the broccoli and take it out immediately. The trick is not to over-cook, so just kissed is perfect.

Steam: The alternative is to steam broccoli in a steamer. Don’t forget that the juices from the broccoli is packed with nutrients, and can be used for other dishes.

Quick stir-fry: Add broccoli to quickly stir-fry in coconut oil with other vegetables

How to NEVER prepare broccoli

Microwave, bake in oven, fry, battered, over-cook and everything else, that cook and destroy the nutrients, texture and beauty of this vegetable.

So get inspired to add broccoli to your healthy lifestyle as often as possible. Be prepared to try new ways to make it – broccoli is one of those amazing vegetables, you can enjoy most of the year and it’s easy to sneak into any kids food.

Celebrate another green day with vegetables!