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This blog is about gut flora, good bacteria, scientific research, and anti-inflammatory food. It’s a prescription for anyone who wishes to eat their way to a healthier life. It’s impossible to overdose on this course of treatment.

Food Pharmacy, Recipes

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Less meat and more legumes

This text was originally published in SvD Perfect Guide.

Did you know that reducing meat consumption by switching to alternatives such as beans, peas and lentils, directly influences greenhouse gas emissions and significantly decreases our impact? According to a study published in the journal, Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, our intake of important nutrients would also improve, while simultaneously freeing large areas of agricultural land to be used for other purposes.

There is a group of researchers at SLU, LNU and JIBS(three Swedish universities) who have studied a scenario in which meat consumption in Sweden is reduced by 50% and replaced with locally-grown legumes (peas, beans and lentils). In the scenario, the objective was to reduce consumption of imported meats first in order to retain local milk and beef production within Sweden, and thereafter an approximate reduction of pork and chicken by 30% .

The study shows that the legumes would increase our intake of fiber and folate, which most of us today have difficulty getting enough of. At the same time, the population as a whole would maintain the same intake of both energy, protein, fat, vitamin B12, zinc and iron. Sounds pretty good, right!

To cover the growing need for legumes we need to grow more, we also need to expand the number of varieties of peas, beans and lentils grown. Experts estimate that such an increase is possible, and additionally, that the diversification of farming systems would give way to many environmental benefits. If the scenario is to become reality, investments in infrastructure are also required, as well as increased interest in legumes from more consumers.

That last part there we can all help with today. May we suggest that you than with good conscience try the following recipe:

Easy pea-sy pesto
(1 bowl)

2 big handfuls of basil
½ cup pumpkin seeds
1 garlic clove
½ cup cold-pressed olive oil
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 ½ cups of green peas

In a food processor blend the basil, pumpkin seeds, garlic clove, olive oil and apple cider vinegar. Then add the peas and blend to a pesto like consistency. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

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Bertil Wosk

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We ask Bertil Wosk: Does coconut oil really live up to its claimed health properties?

Yet again, coconut oil is the subject of the day. All of us at FP use coconut oil when we cook and we frequently receive inquiries about whether or not it actually stands up to the many alleged health claims. Most recently, a reader sent a link to this article in Aftonbladet and asked if we could comment. In the article Karin Michels, a professor at Harvard, states that coconut oil is poisonous.

 

In order to properly immerse ourselves in the topic we asked nutritionist Bertil Wosk if he could give his opinion on the matter. Today we share his reply.

– How do you view using coconut oil, Bertil?

Karin Michels claims in the article that coconut oil is a poison. The focal point is that coconut oil is like butter and lard in that it is dangerous due to its high concentration of saturated fat (92% saturated fat). Saturated fats are considered by some medical experts to be a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

There are good fats ​​and bad fats. And there is also good saturated fat and bad saturated fat, as well as good and bad polyunsaturated fats. The body needs saturated, unsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Polyunsaturated fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6 are important because they form prostaglandins that act as local hormones and are very potent. However, too much polyunsaturated fats are not good either.

Saturated fat is important for several reasons, one of which is as an energy reserve. Both saturated fats and cholesterol are part of the makeup of  the cell membrane for all cells and fulfill an important function. But all saturated fats are not equal. Short chain saturated fatty acids are not stored as fat in the body but are broken down directly and used as energy by the cells. And short chain saturated fatty acids are found, for example, in coconut oil and butter, which Karin Michels and Sweden’s Food Administration warn for in Aftonbladet’s article. But these short chain fatty acids found in coconut oil and butter are also used as nutrition by good bacteria in the intestine, and assist these good bacteria in propagating and in turn helping to strengthen the intestinal mucosa. They are therefore beneficial. Of course, you can overdo these fatty acids just like anything else, but it has not proved to be of any major concern so far.

The main issue is that Karin Michels, like the Food Administration, assumes that all saturated fat is dangerous. So the conclusion is drawn that, if all saturated fat is dangerous, butter and coconut oil which have more saturated fat than other fats are then most dangerous. But that conclusion stands unsupported, there are still no studies showing a related link between saturated fat and cardiovascular disease.

Karin Michel’s statement has also been criticized, for example here and here.

Personally, I recommend using only butter and coconut oil because they contain the good forms of saturated fat. As well as olive oil which is rich in omega-9 and contains a lot of antioxidants. Other oils like soy, corn, sunflower, safflower and rapeseed oil, I believe should be used with care because they contain far too much omega-6, which can be a problem as it contributes to inflammation. Rapeseed oil contains 10% omega-3, but also twice as much omega-6. If you want to have a lot of omega-3 from the plant kingdom, I recommend linseed oil that has about 60% omega-3.

Butter has been eaten for centuries all over the world and coconut oil is and has been a staple for millions of people in Asia for hundreds of years, both without giving rise to problems. It is however important that coconut oil is virgin oil and not refined, bleached and deodorized coconut oil. The latter has been shown to have harmful effects that virgin coconut oil does not have.

The increased rate of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, as well as most other chronic diseases, is not due to saturated fats but to processed industrial food, especially fast carbohydrates. If any fat is poisonous, it is margarine which is an unnatural industrial-made product that does not belong in a kitchen.

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Recipes

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Red Beet Quinotto with Asparagus and Black Kale

If you’re part of the majority who likes to indulge in creamy Italian risotto the we think you should try risotto’s nice cousin, quinotto. It’s made with quinoa instead of rice. The classic cheese is replaced by white beans which once blended make the dish deliciously creamy – and not to mention add an extra dose of protein.

Serve this topped with asparagus or black kale, or let quinotto be a mouth-watering side dish to any other main. Bon appétit!

Red Beet Quinotto with Asparagus and Black Kale
(4 servings)

1 can cooked cannellini beans – about 230 g (drained)
1 teaspoon of nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice (organic)
2 ½  cups of water
2 medium beets, peeled and diced
1 shallot, finely chopped
10 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons cold-pressed olive oil
1 ⅓ cups red quinoa
½ lb of green asparagus
¼ lb black kale (a.k.a. dinosaur kale or tuscan kale)
sea ​​salt and freshly ground black pepper

Topping:
husked hemp seeds

Heat the oven to 150°C/300°F. Blend the beans, nutrition yeast, lemon juice and ½ cup of water in a mixer to a smooth purée. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Saute the beets, onion and sage on medium with 1 tablespoon of olive oil for 5 minutes in a pot, the onion should not begin to carmelize. Add the quinoa and remaining water, simmer for 15 minutes until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Pour the bean purée into the pot to turn it into a creamy quinotto (add an extra splash of water if it feels too dry). Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Remove the lower dry bit of the asparagus. Remove hard stems from the black kale and tear the leaves into smaller pieces. Mix both of them with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and place on a baking sheet in the oven to roast for approx. 10 minutes. The asparagus should be slightly softened and the black kale crispy. Top the quinotto with asparagus and black kale to serve. Do not forget the sprinkle of hemp seeds!

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Food Pharmacy

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Today is World Diabetes Day

The 14th of November each year is recognized as World Diabetes Day. Originally a UN Day started in 1991 by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and the WHO. The purpose is to raise awareness and show some empathy for all the millions of people living with diabetes around the world. It’s a day to spread knowledge and to pay attention to the fact that the number of cases of diabetes are increasing significantly around the globe.

The official logo for World Diabetes Day is a blue circle.  The background story there is that a circle in many cultures represents vitality and life. The blue color symbolizes the sky which brings us all together, and is also the color of the UN flag.. Pretty nice intentions, right!?

One of society’s most challenging diseases

Diabetes is currently one of our most challenging diseases, but just how many of the world’s population is suffering from the disease is unknown. This is mostly due to so many people unawaringly going about with type 2 diabetes. In Sweden, approximately 500,000 people have some type of diabetes, and the even darker statistics estimate that one third of type 2 diabetes cases go undiagnosed.

Switching to a more global perspective we see that in 2015 for example more than 415 million adults were living with diabetes. That same year, another statistic revealed that one person died every six seconds as a result of the disease. And as we approach 2040, the number of affected adults is estimated to rise to 642 million people. An ever rising number. Primarily it is the lifestyle-related, type 2, diabetes that makes up the majority of this increase. These statistics resemble that of an epidemic.

While several factors are associated with type 2 diabetes, probably the most important ones are, heredity and lifestyle. The fact that the disease is lifestyle-related means that it can be caused, for example, by physical inactivity and unhealthy dietary habits. If you are at risk of the disease, you have the opportunity to make lifestyle changes and thus change your trajectory.

Today, November 14, we can all help to spread knowledge about diabetes. And if you have loved ones who have suffered from this disease make sure to give them a little extra love today.

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