Canola oil is a healthy oil useful for cooking. It is made from the crushed seeds of the canola plant (rapeseed). It has less saturated fat than other vegetable oils: Canola has 7% saturated fat, sunflower oil is 12% saturated fat, while corn oil is 13 % and olive oil is 15% saturated fat!!
Canola oil has more omega-3 fatty acids, in particular, alpha linoleic acid (ALA) than all other vegetable oils except flaxseed oil. ALA cannot be made by the body, and ALA has been found to decrease blood pressure, decrease inflammation and cholesterol as well. Studies have shown that switching out fats for the same amount of canola oil can decrease the incidence of heart disease!
Canola oil has a high smoke point. It has a smooth texture with a light flavor. As a cooking oil, it is useful in grilling and stir-frying. It can be added as a salad dressing, sauce, or marinade. It can be used to replace margarine in recipes as well.
Canola oil is mad from GMO plants that are low in erucic acid (causes heart damage). The plants producing canola oil have been modified to have lower concentrations of erucic acid than do wild cultivars. It is the erucic acid content that has some people worried. It turns out that the amount in canola oil is negligible. It is clear that canola oil reduces LDL and cholesterol levels in the body. That is a good thing!
Canola oil has 61%monounsaturated fat (equal to olive oil) and 32% polyunsaturated fat. It also contains phytosterols (beta-sitosterol), which function to decrease cholesterol. Vitamin E and K are present in canola oil as well.
A high ALA diet reduces the threat of myocardial infarction (heart attack) – it turns out that canola oil is high in ALA.
Canola oil can be used in place of butter, as well as in shortening for use in cooking, baking, sauteing, as well as in salad dressing.
One other concern in canola oil is the process of producing it. Hexan is used to extract the oil from the crushed seeds. This is also used to extract oil from soybeans, nuts, and olives. Most soy products and ingredients in meat analogs have hexane processing. Hexane is a neurotoxin and it is unclear if trace residues are a health hazard. However, tests on canola oil have not shown detectable amounts of hexane. The FDA does not monitor hexane levels in food and does not require food manufacturers to test for it. Hexane extraction is banned in organic products. If the food is processed by an expellor press or cold press, then the oil is physically pressed out. Of note, whole soybeans (edamame, tofu, tempeh, soy milk, soy yogurt) are hexane free.
If you are using a statin for your cholesterol, adding more whole grains to your diet helps improve your cholesterol scores even more. Adding 16 grams of whole grains a day has been shown to improve cholesterol levels by 11 mg/dl in addition to that benefit supplied by the statin.
Without statin use, whole grains can improve total cholesterol by ~ 4mg/dl.
Here’s some general cardiovascular stuff that is useful:
There is now a trend to treat your hypertension and cholesterol based on risk factors rather than just specific targets. Looking at the overall cardiovascular risk is more important tan focusing on just one factor. The decision to treat cholesterol issues should be based on not just the absolute LDL – cholesterol number but also the coexisting problems, such as obesity or hypertension. It is important to modify other lifestyle issues including losing weight, maintaining regular exercise, eating a low-salt diet, and taking your prescribed medications. Look at the overall picture and not just a single parameter.
Be certain to stay active. Check with your doctor about the safety of exercise for you before you start on a program. Engage in aerobic activity such as walking or jogging at least four to five times a week and be certain to mix this with muscle-strengthening exercise at least twice a week. Get moving!30-60 minutes a day, and be certain to use good form, standing upright and keeping your back straight, walking on even surfaces so you don’t fall, with good heel-strike and arm swing to maintain balance. Wear comfortable, well-fitted shoes. Stretch after a brief walk and be careful to do the stretching appropriately without any bouncing so you don’t damage your muscles. As winter approaches, you may need to exercise indoors due to the cold. Consider working out a variety of muscle groups to spice it up and keep you interested. This stimulates other muscle groups to maintain overall fitness. You thereby avoid burnout and keep motivated! Consider indoor sports that you can add to your regimen such as swimming, indoor rowing, stair-climbing machines, ellipticals, aerobics, yoga, and racquetball. Keep social. Get a training partner to keep things fun.
Be certain to stay on the best diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins with low saturated and trans-fats as well as low cholesterol and sodium. Avoid processed foods and added sugar. Keep your Vitamin D intake at the appropriate levels, with 600 IU a day being recommended for ages 51-70 and 800 IU a day for ages over 70. The goal is a blood level of more than 30 nanograms per milliliter. Sources of foods wit Vitamin D include salmon, swordfish, tuna, canned sardines, milk, eggs, yogurt, orange juice, and cereals fortified with it. Vitamin D provides cardiovascular, neurological, and immune system health. People with high levels of vitamin D have had lower in-hospital death and morbidity rates.
Try to get 8 hours of sleep a night.
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