Monthly Archives: October 2014

How to choose the right oil – Gringo Jack’s Part II on healthy oil

So what oil should we be cooking with?  Even more important than the health factor is the heating temperature of oils.  Known as the smoke point, each oil can take a certain temperature before bad things start to happen.  The smoke point is actually that – the point at which the oil begins to smoke.  The smoke point is when all the nutrients begin to degrade and potentially harmful compounds begin to form.

When an oil makes certain claims such as heart healthy or packed with antioxidants or helps to lower cholesterol, remember that these claims are no longer true once they pass their smoke point.  In fact, not only are the health benefits destroyed, but you could be ingesting carcinogens.   To clarify even further, an oils smoke point is dependent on how refined the oil is.  More refine, higher smoke point.  Less refined, lower smoke point.  Obviously, for cooking we are looking for a higher smoke point.

So, below are several factors we want to look at when choosing an oil:

  • Smoke Point
  • Types and ratios of fat content
  • Refinement
  • Process – chemical or pressed

We’ve created a chart that will give us some of useful information when choosing an oil.

Oil Chart

We can infer much through this chart!  First, you can see that Butter and Flax should not be used for high heat cooking as it has the lowest smoke point (along with the unrefined sunflower and safflower).

Conversely, canola, peanut, palm, corn and most of the refined oils are good to cook with.  However, let’s now look at the rest of the information.

While you can cook with palm oil and coconut oil (as well as butter on low heat), they are also the highest in saturated fats – coconut oil being a whopping 91% saturated fat!    To break it down further, however, both coconut and palm oil are very high in lauric acid (of the saturated fat), hence the coconut oil craze, since lauric acid is also used medicinally.  So, at this point, we certainly would not cut those two oils from our choices.

Now, take palm oil.  High smoke point and high in lauric acid of the saturated fat. However, palm oil also has a 10:1 ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3.  That would probably cut palm oil from our list of choices.  Again, canola oil comes out on top with a 2:1 ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3.

  • Let’s look at deep frying.  Temperatures for deep frying are between 325-400, so we need an oil that has a smoke point over 325.  Looking at our chart, we can infer several things:
  • Walnut oil has to be at least semi-refined, however also has a terrible Omega ratio and is expensive
  • Sunflower oil also has to be semi or fully refined, and also has a terrible Omega ratio.
  • Soybean oil again, has to be semi or fully refined with a lousy Omega ratio.
  • The same goes for sesame, safflower oil and peanut oil.
  • Olive and corn oil has a great smoke point, but a crappy Omega ratio.
  • Turns out, canola oil has a great smoke point, is the lowest in saturated fat and has the best Omega ratio!  Of course, this is assuming you are using expeller pressed, non-gmo canola oil so that you are not destroying the Omega 3s with the heat and chemical extraction and refinement method. Add non-GMO and you have the perfect oil for high heat cooking!

My favorite two oils are expeller-pressed, non-GMO canola oil and extra virgin olive oil.  For low heat cooking, I use the extra virgin olive oil for flavor and the extra nutrients in olive oil.  For any high heat cooking, I always use the good canola oil.

canola-oil-plant-1

I am trying to find ways to incorporate some of the other oils into my diet, but on a limited basis.  I am definitely falling on the coconut oil, all the time craze as I believe the huge saturated fat level should be mitigated with moderation use.

So, there we go.  Gringo Jack’s uses expeller-pressed, non-GMO canola oil for our chips because we did the research and want to make the best possible product we can for you and your family.  I mean, hey a snack is a snack, but snacks made with good ingredients have their place and a rightful place it is – I mean, how dull diets would be without them!

Gringo Jack's Flaky Tortilla Chips
Gringo Jack’s Flaky Tortilla Chips

 

 

 

 

Will the Real Healthy Oil Please Stand? Gringo Jack’s uncovers the truth about oils.

The food world is getting harder to navigate.  Remember the 1960s and 70s when eggs were good for you?  Then they were bad, then good, then bad and now good.  My goodness, why can’t the healthy food community make up its mind?!

minniepearl132

Well, science dictates the changes in healthy eating advice.  The more we know, the more we can get a handle on whats good and what isn’t.  We are learning so much more, so much faster as our scientific knowledge increases exponentially.  The more we learn about decoding dna and the more we learn about genes, the more we can narrow down what is good and what isn’t.

However, that knowledge also lends itself to changing the foodscape.  GMOs are an example of a “little bit of knowledge”.  So, not only do we have to keep up on what foods are healthy and unhealthy, but now we have a much wider variety of foods and food processes to study.

This is where oil comes in.  What oil is healthy?  Can I cook with a certain oil?  The internet is ripe with information for an against certain oils.  For example, there has been a huge campaign against canola oil.  Canola oil originally came from the rapeseed and was very high in erucic acid – a known toxin responsible for anything from heart to lung problems.   In the 1970s, a group of Canadians cross bred a new, benign plant for canola oil.  This new breed was called canola (Canadian oil low acid).

canola

Of course, after this, the scientist at the forefront of this went to Monsanto where a genetically modified canola (still rapeseed, but no longer the toxic rapeseed) was created to withstand Round-Up.  Now, most of the canola oil made and consumed is genetically modified  Remember, the original rapeseed developed by the Canadians was not a GMO – it was naturally crossbred.

To make things worse, as you know, oil has to be extracted from nuts, seeds, grains, fruits and vegetables.  There are several methods for doing this, but most of the canola oil you buy at the grocery store is extracted using the chemical solvent method.  Using a chemical solvent, usually hexane, over 90% of the oil is able to be extracted.  However, this chemical is poisonous.  In fact, just breathing hexane can cause nausea and headaches and attacks the central nervous system. So, the hexane has to come out later.  The hexane is removed with high heat.  However, while this process removes the hexane, it is unclear as to whether there are trace amounts left and whether these trace amounts are unsafe.  High heat could turn whatever amounts are left into an inhalant.  Also, the high heat degrades the oil and changes the flavor (sometimes completely ruining the flavor altogether) as well as the nutritional makeup.  Actually, it is truly gross – you can find videos on the internet that will show you how the extraction is done and you may not want to eat after that!  Actually, here is a link to one of those videos:

So along comes non-gmo, expeller pressed oil.  Utilizing the Canadian cross bred canola, the oil is extracted via the centuries old natural method called expeller pressed.  A purely mechanical method is utilized and presses the seeds or fruits until oil comes out.  This method is definitely not as effective as the chemical solvent and gets only about 60-70% of the oil (as opposed to over 90% from the chemical method).  Hence, expeller pressed is more expensive.

The difference, however is night and day.  Forget the flavor which is hugely different from its chemical induced counterpart.  The method makes the difference between consuming poison to consuming one of the healthiest coils out there.  Add non-GMO to the mix and what you have is now an oil lowest in saturated fat of all oils and has an omega-6 / omega-3 ratio of 2:1!  Also, it has the highest smoke point (ie: canola oil 375 vs safflower or sunflower t 212 degrees),so that it makes it one of the best oils to cook with.  Once oils get heated past their smoke point, you wind up with carcinogens and free radicals – just what you DON’T want in your healthy stir-fry!

Next week, I’ll offer up a chart with all the oils, the advantages and disadvantages of each.  But, before ending here, you should know that Gringo Jack’s uses ONLY non-GMO, expeller pressed canola oil in both our chips AND our restaurant frying!  How many restaurants can tell you that your fries, chicken etc is fried in non-toxic, non-GMO expeller pressed oil?

Gringo Jack's Flaky Tortilla Chips
Gringo Jack’s Flaky Tortilla Chips

GMO Labeling – Advantages & Disadvantages – final words

So, just what are the advantages and disadvantages of GMO labeling?

To recap, we know that GMOs themselves have advantages and disadvantages:

Advantages:

  • potential less use of pesticides
  • increased food production in poor countries
  • perhaps lower food prices
  • potential for increased vitamins & minerals
  • increased disease resistance
  • increased shelf life
  • removal of certain allergens
  • less need for water

Disadvantages:

  • no long term studies, so potential for food safety issues & unknown health risks
  • the ability for large corporations to patent food source
  • potential for new allergens
  • risk of antibiotic resistance
  • potential increase in use of pesticides (because of the resistance)
  • potential for unknown toxins
  • unknown potential harm to the environment and animal/insect species
  • potential for toxicity with an over ingestion of certain vitamins and minerals

Given these issues, labeling seems the natural thing to do.  And polls show that a large majority of the public wants to see labeling.  And yet, states are having a hard time passing labeling laws.

Most countries that have labeling laws are national with a national standard.  The US is trying to pass laws regionally because the FDA states that GMO foods are, in essence, the same as non-GMO foods and therefore, need not be regulated separately.   This dictate leaves states no choice but to act on their own.

From (http://wakeup-world.com/2012/02/10/vermont-introduces-monumental-gmo-labeling-legislation/).
Photo from http://wakeup-world.com/2012/02/10/vermont-introduces-monumental-gmo-labeling-legislation/

Enter the problems.  Below are the advantages and disadvantages of GMO labeling:

Advantages:

  • Labeling gives the public information about what they are buying and consuming.  The “right to know” extends to this “food processing attribute”.
  • Consumers could make more informed buying decisions
  • It might encourage more companies to use non-GMO ingredients so they would not have to label.  This has been shown to be the case in at least six-ten other countries where labeling is mandatory.

Disadvantages:

  • Groceries will probably cost more as the manufacturers will have to pour a lot of money into testing and segregation.  Labels would have to be remade and, more than likely would have to be generic across state lines.
  • labelgmoshollywood.co
    labelgmoshollywood.co
  • Smaller food producers and specialty food producers would feel the cost burden much more and, if they are able to continue doing business, the products would bear a greater cost – and the consumer might not be able to afford products from smaller food producers.
  • States, farmers and food producers could be tied up in expensive litigation.
  • Having state laws and not using a national standard could create more confusion in the public’s mind.  In some cases, the consumer could be deceived into thinking a food doesn’t contain GMOs, when in fact it does.  For example:  a small food producer in Vermont is required to label.  Since they can not afford to have labels for one state and a different label for another state, all the products are labeled.  That product is then sold on a shelf in a state without labeling laws.  The product next to it comes from a large company that can afford to have separate labels for labeled stated and unlabeled law states.  The consumer looking at the two products would be deceived into thinking the product without the label does not contain GMOs.

Regardless, Vermont has now passed a labeling law.  Smartly, the law establishes a defense fund to defect against potential lawsuits.  And there is a whopper out there – a lawsuit filed by the Grocery Manufacturer’s Association, International Dairy Foods Association and the Snack Foods Association.   Even Ben & Jerry’s is getting in the fray helping to raise funds for the defense of the law – a renamed ice cream, “Food Fight – Fudge Brownie” shows a box on the front of the ice cream that reads “Food Fight Fund”.   $1 of each pint sold will go to the fund.

photo by  GLENN RUSSELL / FREE PRESS FILE
photo by GLENN RUSSELL / FREE PRESS FILE

Attorney General Bill Sorrell has filed a brief defending the new law and asking the lawsuit be thrown out.

The lawsuit claims that the labeling law exceeds state authority and violates food manufacturer’s right to free speech to not label something they don’t feel necessary.  Defense of the law need only look to NY and the recent upheld law requiring calorie content be listed on chain restaurant food.

Either way, we should all get ready.  Whether it happens today or several years from now, labeling is probably coming to a state near you!