A practical guide for nutritional and traditional health care.
Oils In Seeds
Almost all plants produce seeds that enclose oils and they provide high amounts of energy for the seedlings to grow. Similar to the egg of a chicken, the seed of a plant ought to enclose sufficient energy for it to sprout into a complete plant - first the roots and then the stem and leaves, which eventually take up the task of drawing water as well as minerals from the soil for survival and growth. In addition, the leaves also help to draw sunlight. Together, they help to pull up mineral and water from the soil and captivate sunlight to help the plant grow to prime of life. In fact, the oils enclosed by the seeds are akin to the breast milk of mother for the seedlings till the plant grows to become self-reliant. These oils are rich in nutrient content and form a wonderful resource of nourishments that promote health.
The quantity oil present in different types of seeds as well as nuts differs from roughly 4 per cent in corn to more than 70 per cent in pecans. In addition, the oil content of seeds belonging to the same type of plants may also vary greatly depending on the age of the plants as well as the location where they are grown.
The most excellent oils are usually unprocessed and possess a flavor akin to that of the seeds from which they were pressed mechanically (known as expeller) with no solvents. It is important to be additionally careful while making these oils as well as storing them in opaque containers with a view to shielding them from light, heat and oxygen. From the point of nutrient content, these oils are superior, but it is essential to consume them fresh as they may decompose very rapidly. Fresh oils obtained from high quality seeds ought to be always obtained freshly pressed, packed in a protective manner and also delivered quickly so that the consumers receive them undamaged.
The marijuana plant seeds yield the hemp oil and it contains approximately 19 per cent of the three-fold (super) unsaturated alpha-linolenic acid (also known as LNA), about 57 per cent of the two-fold polyunsaturated linoleic acid (also known as LA) and just 1.7 per cent linoleic acid (LA) derived, three fold polyunsaturated gamma-linolenic acid (also known as GLA). When we talk of oil having a well-balanced profile, it generally denotes that one may use the particular oil throughout his/ her life and still not suffer from EFA deficiency.
Similarly, flax seeds yield the most excellent remedial oil for people suffering from fatty degeneration owing to deficiency of alpha-linolenic. Flax seed oil encloses the maximum amount of alpha-linolenic acid, which disperses EFA most potently. It may be noted here that alpha-linolenic acid is useful for dispersing cholesterol and saturated fatty acid deposits, which have a tendency to cumulate and also make the platelets sticky. In order to be beneficial for our health, it is essential that flax seed oil is fresh and also not exposed to heat, light and oxygen, as these three agents have the aptitude to obliterate LNA very fast. Used over a period of time, flax seed oil may turn out to be very rich in LNA content, resulting in deficiency of linoleic acid (LA).
Pumpkin seed oil is rare, as it is hard to obtain. This oil has a deep green hue and is very appetizing. Subject to the type of the pumpkin, the oil extracted from its seeds may enclose anything between nil to 15 per cent alpha-linolenic acid (LNA) and between 45 per cent to 60 per cent linoleic acid (LA). However, it is unfortunate that the pumpkin seed oils that are obtained most commonly do not enclose any LNA whatsoever.
Unrefined or unprocessed walnut oil also possesses an enjoyable flavour, but usually this oil is rarely found fresh. Majority of the walnut oil that is sold in the market is actually refined.
Soybean oil that is unrefined is very superior quality oil. However, when it is processed mechanically, its yield is very low - just 18 per cent of the bean actually comprises the oil. In fact, unrefined and freshly obtained soybean oil is very delectable. This oil has high levels of lecithin, EFA, phytosterols as well as different other factors which are said to hold back the development of a number of cancer forms.
Nearly all the soy oil that is available commercially is actually processed and partially hydrogenated, which obliterates its LNA content. This is primarily done to put off the flavours owing to deteriorating alpha-linolenic acid (LNA). Currently, scientists are engaged in developing soybean strains containing fewer LNA content with a view to enhance the shelf life of soybean oil. Unfortunately, when this new type of strains of soybean will be available commercially, the quality of this wonderful and nutritious oil will be diminished. In fact, soybeans are further nutritious compared to the refined or processed oil.
Rather than breeding LNA or alpha-linolenic acid from soybeans, it is more worthwhile to preserve the nutriment worth of the oils and work out superior technology that will enable sheltered pressing as well as protected packaging, storing and also transportation of the oil to the consumers, who will be able to obtain it fresh. In fact, such technology as well as the means to deliver the oils fresh to consumers are available now. What it requires is to apply them more extensively.
Unrefined and fresh wheat germ oil too possesses a pleasant flavour. Unfortunately, nearly all the wheat germ oil that is available commercially now is not fresh and rancid and, therefore, it has an appalling taste. Wheat germ oil encloses some amount of LNA or alpha-linolenic acid, but is a rich resource of octacosanol (a 28-carbon fatty alcohol) that is useful for protecting the functioning of the heart and may possibly also aid in the regeneration of the nerves. In addition, wheat germ oil is among the richest suppliers of natural vitamin E.
Natural food stores sell unprocessed sunflower and safflower seed oils as well as refined oils. Usually, these oils are available in transparent bottles so that the consumers can see their color. However, this exposes the oils to light and destroy much of their beneficial qualities. Therefore, it would have been much better if they were sold in opaque bottles protected from heat and light.
The oil obtained from sesame seed is considered to be good and it also possesses an enjoyable natural taste. Sesame seed oil can be pressed easily and devoid of applying heat. The oil ought to be unprocessed and untoasted for it to be beneficial for our health. Sesame oil encloses natural preservatives such as sesamin and sesamol, which help to keep this oil, comparatively rich in linoleic acid (LA) content, stable. Therefore, it has a relatively longer shelf life.
The oil extracted from rice bran is also stable. In its unrefined state, rice bran oil is an excellent resource of natural waxes as well as sterols, which help to bring down the level of cholesterol in the bloodstream. However, it is unfortunate that the color of this oil is black and this makes it somewhat objectionable.
Here is a word of caution. Not any of the oils mentioned above should be used to fry foods, as the EFAs as well as other natural elements contained by these oils are obliterated when high temperature is applied to them. Basically, these oils are meant for use in salads, mayonnaise, salad dressings and yogurt. They may also be added to dishes prepared freshly, for instance, vegetable dishes and hot grains. If you desire to enhance your health, it is necessary for you to give up your habit of consuming fried foods. In fact, such habits, which are generally passed on from a parent to the child or picked up from trendy modern foods, are not good for our health.
Evening primrose oil is basically used for therapeutic purposes. It is available at natural food stores in little capsules. Usually, this oil is solvent extracted, but now even primrose oil obtained from expeller is also available. Evening primrose oil is always available in refined form.
Evening primrose oil as well as other different therapeutic oils like black currant oil and borage oil encloses both LA as well as gamma-linoleic acid (GLA). Our body cannot make GLA from LA when we are suffering from some ailments or have some kind of dietary deficit. In such instances, evening primrose oil may compensate for the inability of our body. Gamma-linoleic acid is beneficial for people with arthritis and those enduring premenstrual syndrome (PMS). It has been estimated that roughly 10 per cent to 25 per cent of the wealthy population can afford to make use of the benefits offered by GLA. In fact, gamma-linoleic acid is a transitional phase in prostaglandin production having regulatory functions akin to that of some vital hormones that have an influence on our hearts as well as arteries, mental functions, kidneys, glands, menstrual cycles, metabolic rate and joints. Besides gamma-linoleic acid, black currant oil also encloses LNA or alpha-linolenic acid.
Oils for skin
Some oils are highly beneficial for the health of our skin. In fact, all oils that have a rich EFA content are excellent for the skin, but they decompose quickly when they are applied to the skin externally. Therefore, the best means to oil the skin using oils rich in EFA is to use them internally or to consume them. For instance, the fatty acid profile of apricot oil, almond oil and prune oil is quite similar. All these oils contain high amounts of oleic acid, which puts them in the category of monounsaturated oils. Almond oil is high in vitamin E content, besides being very stable oil. The stability as well as the pleasant scent of almond oil makes it extremely valuable in the form of a skin as well as massage oil.
Neem oil is also excellent for our skin, as it encloses natural elements having antiseptic or germicidal, antibacterial, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and anti-pyretic (fever-reducing) attributes. In addition, neem oil is also works effectively in the form of a repellent - while neem oil repels mosquitoes, sand flies and different venomous insects, it eliminates fleas and lice. This oil is also employed for treating skin conditions like acne, eczema, dandruff, psoriasis and dry skin. It kills the ringworm fungus, fungus responsible for athlete’s foot, thrush, Candida and vaginal yeast. Neem oil is also used in preparing a number of skin lotions, soaps, shampoos and even toothpastes.
The oils extracted from mustard seed and rape seed are monounsaturated in nature, enclosing fewer amounts of EFAs. When unrefined, mustard oil and rape seed oil possess a pungent flavour owing to the presence of glucosinolates (sulfates), which provide these oils a variety of tastes ranging from tolerable to horrible. Hence, these oils are generally marketed as refined. Both rape seeds and mustard seeds contain as much as 40 per cent of erucic acid.
In North America, canola oil, LEAR (low erucic acid rape seed) that has substituted HEAR (high erucic acid rape seed) oil, as well as mustard oil encloses much lower than 5 per cent erucic acid. Similar to soybean oil, sometimes even canola oil is partly hydrogenated, which destroys its alpha-linolenic acid (LNA) content with a view to put off the unpleasant flavours owing to deterioration of LNA.
The oil obtained from peanut is also stable and is monounsaturated oil. This oil is excellent, provided the peanut from which it is obtained is fungus free. Peanut oil is always sold in the form of genuine batch-pressed unprocessed oil possessing the excellent scent of peanut. However, peanuts and, hence, even the oil extracted from them, may possibly enclose cancer-causing substances produced by fungus, which thrive inside the humid peanuts. The same fungus also possesses the aptitude to swarm other different damp seeds and grains. In fact, peanuts are very vulnerable to fungus invasion because they grown beneath the ground.
One more monounsaturated oil, avocado oil is generally sold refined. As far as its monounsaturated fatty acid and EFA content are concerned, this oil is similar to almond oil, olive oil and peanut oil.
Olive oil contains high levels of monounsaturates, but its EFA content is low. This oil has been popular among people for several thousand years owing to its stability, something that was important in a Mediterranean climatic prior to introduction of refrigeration. Besides, it is also easy to obtain the oil by pressing it from the soft flesh of olive which does not make it necessary to use high pressure equipment - this was vital prior to the invention of high pressure equipment for pressing oil.
One main reason for olive oil’s repute as a health promotional oil is the fact that the virgin olive oils are the sole unrefined oils that are sold in the common market. Olive oil retains most of the chlorophyll, phytosterols, carotene, vitamin E, magnesium as well as other different substances contained in the seeds and natural unprocessed oils, as well as vital ‘minor’ elements that are exclusive to olives. Hence, only this fact makes olive oil the sole mass marketed oil that is worth suggesting currently. All the other oils that are marketed in mass are actually refined, deodorized, bleached and not very high in nutritional value. In fact, most of these oils have their natural flavour, antioxidants, pigments as well as odour molecules removed when they are processed. In addition, they also do not possess their original plant sterols and vitamins that are soluble in the oils.
Olive oil encloses approximately 80 per cent of monounsaturated fatty acids, about 8 per cent to 10 per cent linoleic acid (LA) and roughly one per cent alpha-linolenic acid (LNA). However, olive oil does not contain much of EFAs, and most of this nutriment has to be supplied by other oils. In addition to using olive oil in foods, it is used together with freshly obtained lemon juice to flush out toxic substances from the liver. In recent times, the use of olive oil for this purpose has largely declined. It may be noted that unprocessed oils contain more of both EFAs and work more effectually to alleviate overburdened livers.
All seeds provide us with the best means to obtain fresh oils. Besides EFAs, the seeds also enclose vitamins, proteins, minerals, fiber and several minor, but vital elements that are seed-specific. Superior quality seeds are actually our most dependable resources of the possibly the freshest oils. We need to depend on bottled oils only when we require oils in excess of two tablespoonfuls, which is generally needed to treat degenerative health conditions.
Considering the nutritional worth of the seeds, we should think about chewing the seeds of different fruits as well as melons. Consumption of different seeds form a normal practice for people belonging to some of the oldest cultures on the earth, counting those of the Hunza as well as different regions of Russia reputed for their sound health as well as long life. People in India consume papaya seeds for their nutritional worth as well as their particularly stimulating action on the nerves. In fact, papaya seeds have a somewhat pepper-like flavour that reminds one of watercress and radishes.
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