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Are Hidden Sources of Trans Fats Lurking in Organic Canola Oil? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dee McCaffrey, CDC   
Saturday, April 16, 2016


Canola oil plant with seeds

It’s been quite a ride watching the rise and demise of trans fats in the American food supply. Needless to say, many of us were gratified last November when the FDA finally acknowledged that these man-made fats are so hazardous to our health, they can no longer be deemed “generally recognized as safe.” Trans fats raise bad cholesterol and have been implicated as the reason for high rates obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. If this preliminary determination gets finalized, it will be illegal for food manufacturers to use trans fats in their food products without FDA approval. While this is a great victory for all of us, it may be years before we see a ban and a complete phase-out of trans fats.

But even if there is a ban, you still need to be aware of another hidden source of trans fat in your food products, even the organic foods that are marketed as healthy.  This hidden source of trans fats is not likely to be banned or regulated any time soon.

The FDA’s ruling will only cover the man-made partially hydrogenated oils, not the trans fat that is created in the process of pressing and refining oil. According to the FDA, trans fat is also present at very low levels in other edible oils, such as canola oil, where it is "unavoidably produced during the manufacturing process.”

The food industry promotes canola oil (an oil pressed from rape seeds) as a healthy salad and cooking oil, because it contains a relatively high amount of “heart healthy” monounsaturated fat and a lesser percentage of beneficial omega-3 fats in the form of alpha linolenic acid, a type of essential fat known to aid in weight loss, lower the risk of heart disease, and lift depression.  Alpha linolenic acid is most certainly healthy, but only if it is protected from heat and light.

Few people realize that the supposedly beneficial omega-3 fats in canola oil are an “unavoidable” source of trans fats.  The omega-3 fats in canola oil are extremely fragile and their molecular structure lends for a very easy conversion to trans fats when the oil is exposed to heat during extraction. Standard canola oil goes through two extractions, one mechanical using a screw press that creates high heat, and one chemical using hexane, a very harsh solvent.  The oil must also be de-gummed to remove solids that settle during storage. The process involves more heat and sometimes the addition of acids. Then, because the oil is an ugly gray color, it is bleached and separated. Finally, the oil (known for its foul odor) must be deodorized using extreme temperatures as high as 500° F. All of this heat and chemical exposure converts the omega-3’s to trans fats and destroys any health benefit the oil may have had. (To watch a video on how canola oil is made, click here.  Notice how the narrator touts canola oil as being healthy, but when you see how it is made you will definitely change your mind!)

Even when the oil is expeller pressed—a type of pressing commonly used in the production of organic canola oil—the tremendous force (as much as 15 tons of pressure per square inch are applied to squeeze the oil from the seeds) of the industrial press still generates a good amount of heat that converts the omega-3’s into trans fats. This conversion happens whether or not the rape seeds were grown organically.

canola oil pic for articleTrue “cold-pressed” canola oil (made by grinding seeds with heavy granite millstones or modern stainless steel presses and keeping the temperature below 120° F) does exist, and may perhaps be free of trans fats, but is produced in much smaller volume than standard canola oil.  You won’t see cold pressed canola oil being used in any commercial food products or restaurants. It is typically only available in specialty food stores at a premium price. However, there would be no point in spending the money on such oil if the intention is to heat it for cooking, as trans fats are easily created at cooking temperatures as well.

What this boils down to is that you end up with a small but very damaging amount of trans fat in canola oil just from the extraction and refining process.  If you or any food manufacturer uses canola for cooking, the additional heat creates more damage.

The amount of trans fat in canola oil varies depending on where it was sourced from.  Researchers at the University of Florida at Gainesville found that liquid canola oils pressed from rape seeds grown and sold in the USA contained as much as 4.6 percent trans fat.  That may seem like a small percentage, but you have to realize that trans fats act on a cellular level and are harmful even in minute amounts.  The National Academy of Sciences declared in 2002, and  FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said recently in a written statement, “There is no safe level of consumption of trans fat. Current intake remains a significant public health concern.”

The FDA requires food manufacturers to list the number of grams of added artificial trans fats per serving of the food product, however, the trans fats that occur in canola oil as a result of processing are not monitored nor are they required to be listed on the nutrition fact panel of food products. In fact, canola oil is one of the most egregiously hidden sources of trans fat that is not disclosed or regulated. To avoid trans fat in your food, avoid canola oil at all costs, even if is organic and expeller pressed.


  1. Sean O'Keefe, Sara Gaskins-Wright, Virginia Wiley, and I-Chen Chen, “Levels of Trans Geometrical Isomers of Essential Fatty Acids in Some Unhydrogenated US Vegetable Oils.” Journal of Food Lipids 1994;1:165-176. accessed at
  2. Rapeseed and Canola Oil: Production, Processing, Properties and Uses
Popcorn and COPD! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dee McCaffrey   
Wednesday, April 13, 2016


Taking a breather from cured meats and popcorn could save your lungs and your life. A recent study conducted by Columbia University Medical Center suggests that eating cured meats such as hot dogs,  smoked turkey, ham, bologna, bacon or salami may double your risk for lung disease.

Concurrently, recent news has shown that the pervasive lingering aroma of artificially butter-flavored popcorn can literally kill you.

Researchers found that people who ate cured meat products at least 14 times a month were 78 percent more likely to develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) than people who did not eat these meats, even after the researchers sought to account for many other risk factors including smoking, overall diet and age.

Milk Thistle for Liver Support and Weight Loss PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dee McCaffrey, CDC   
Saturday, April 09, 2016

milk thistleIn addition to being the body’s main detoxifying organ, the liver is also the body’s main fat-bruning organ.  When the liver becomes sluggish from accumulation of toxins from foods, beverages, medications, skin care products, hair products, and environmental pollution, it becomes less efficient in its fat burning role and begins to store fat instead.  Milk Thistle is an herb that can help cleanse and support the liver to restore its ability to burn fat efficiently.

Milk thistle is native to regions of the Mediterranean and has been used for over 2,000 years for its liver healing properties. More than 300 studies have now shown that its active ingredient, silymarin, can protect liver cells from the poisonous effects of alcohol and other toxic chemicals. It inhibits free radical formation and boosts glutathione levels in the liver by over 33 percent.

The active ingredient in milk thistle is an antioxidant flavonoid compound called Silymarin, which  has three components: silybin, silychristin and silydianin.  Several studies have proven that milk thistle can actually regenerate liver cells that have been damaged by cirrhosis and infectious hepatitis. It is incredibly antifungal and has been used as an antidote to poisoning by the deathcap mushroom. It is even being studied as a way to slow the growth of prostate cancer. 

 Milk thistle has been shown to protect liver cells in the following ways:

  • Silymarin has antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are thought to protect body cells from damage caused by a chemical process called oxidation.

  • Silymarin has anti-inflammatory effects, which keeps liver cells from swelling in response to injury.

  • Silymarin seems to encourage liver cell growth. By changing the outside layer of liver cells, it prevents certain toxins from getting into liver cells.


Other purported uses for milk thistle include the treatment of heartburn, loss of appetite, symptoms of gallbladder disorders, diabetes, increasing breast milk flow, inducing menstrual flow and even hangovers.

Researchers have found that Milk thistle is not well absorbed into the body as a brewed tea because the silymarin is not water soluble. It must be extracted using alcohol, therefore it is best consumed in extract form, either as a dried powder in capsules or in tincture form. Adding the tincture to a cup of warm water makes a more effective tea.

Dosage Recommendations

The suggested dose of milk thistle from the Physicians Desk Reference is generally 200 to 400 mg of silymarin per day.

Side Effects

Very few side effects if any have been associated with milk thistle. Milk thistle is considered safe when you follow the recommended dosage.  If you are pregnant, consult with your doctor before taking milk thistle.

You Are What They Ate - Why Grass-Fed Beef Is Better PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dee McCaffrey, CDC   
Saturday, March 26, 2016

grassfedbeefTraditionally, all beef was grass-fed beef. But today the meat we buy in the supermarkets is far different. It is mostly corn-fed beef that is then sent to a feedlot before being slaughtered. Before World War II, beef cattle were raised on grass. It could take four years to fatten a steer. But then the industry switched to corn, a sort of time machine for a steer. Today calves start out on milk and grass but then, after about six months when they reach a weight of about 650 pounds, they're sent to a feedlot. At the feedlot they are fed sugar beet waste, hay, sorghum, corn, molasses, cottonseed meal, soybean meal and oats to fatten them up before they are slaughtered. By the time they are only 14 or 16 months old, they are fat enough for slaughter. To get them fat that fast, it takes enormous quantities of corn, protein supplements, antibiotics and other drugs, including growth hormones. And of course this transfers to the food we eat as beef.

Feeding cows this diet is what makes the fat or marbling in beef, rather than fat that can be trimmed off the sides. This diet fed to cattle for the 4 months before going to the slaughterhouse isn't very good for humans to eat. What this does to the beef is lower its omega-3 fatty acids and significantly raise the omega-6 fatty acids. And Americans get far too much omega-6 in their diets and too little of the omega-3. This also raises the saturated fat level in this beef as well, which results in an imbalance in the natural ratio of saturated fat to other fats in the beef.

Cattle that eat a grass-fed diet have a healthier profile than grain-fed beef does. They have a higher omega-3 level and a lower omega-6 level, making it much healthier for us to eat. Omega fat levels are important in our health, and eating more omega-3 than omega-6 is important. The grass-fed cattle are also much higher in vitamin E, vitamin C, beta-carotene and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). CLA is proving to be an aggressive cancer fighter.

You should be aware that there are differences in how beef is labeled. Some can say grass-fed beef, but it doesn't tell you for how long the cattle was fed grass. Sometimes, the cattle are fed grass until it comes time to what is called "finishing," and at that time the cattle could be fed other foods. For totally grass-fed beef, look for a label that says 100% grass-fed.

Also, just because a package says grass-fed beef, doesn't mean it's organic since the grass could have been treated with fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. Grass-fed doesn't have to mean organic. The best beef to eat is organic grass-fed beef.

Savor the Flavor of Eating Right PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dee McCaffrey, CDC   
Saturday, March 12, 2016



pot healthy-cooking-art

We eat every day, several times a day. But in our fast paced culture, more often than not we are eating on the run, grabbing a toaster pastry and a cup of coffee to gulp down in the car on the way to work.  We grab fast food for lunch, or we multi-task our meals by sitting at our desk and eat while working.  Then, because we are so wiped out from our fast-paced day, we look for the quickest way to get dinner on the table, often resorting to microwavable dinners or instant meals from a box.  In the incredible pace of our lives, we have lost the connection between what we eat and how we feel, and we have forgotten what it means to truly nourish ourselves.

Eating is more than physical nourishment.  How, when, why and where we eat are just as important to our daily health as what we eat.  In an effort to educate and empower Americans to slow down, smell the coffee, and enjoy the experience of nourishing ourselves on many levels, the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has established National Nutrition Month®---a month long education campaign held annually during March---aimed at educating and empowering Americans into healthier lifestyles.

The theme for 2016 is "Savor the Flavor of Eating Right," which encourages everyone to take the time to enjoy food traditions and appreciate the pleasures, great flavors and social experiences food can add to our lives.

Everyone has a different idea of what it means to "eat right," but most agree that eating right encompasses opting for foods that nourish our senses as well as our bodies.  Plant foods contain many beneficial compounds that give them their organoleptic properties---the aspects of food that we experience with our senses, such as taste, sight, smell and touch.  These compounds are also responsible for the many health benefits contained in our foods.

garlic in motionGarlic, for instance, is affectionately known as "the stinking rose" owing to its distinct pungent aroma.  The compounds responsible for garlic's characteristically pungent odor, alliin and allicin, are also the source of many of its health promoting properties, including anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, anti-cancer and cardiovascular benefits.  You can increase the health benefits you recieve from garlic by "savoring" it before eating or cooking.  Letting garlic sit after you've chopped or crushed it allows special enzymes in the garlic to activate the alliin and allicin, giving garlic an opportunity to work on behalf of your health.

The bitter tastes in foods are always an indication of high antioxidant content, which is why most leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, cabbage and kale have a bitter taste.  Teas, coffee, grapefruit and cacao are bitter in their natural form, and we can offset and savor their flavors by pairing them with natural sweeteners.

We can "Savor the Flavor of Eating Right" in many other ways as well, by taking the time to enjoy everything that a healthful and tasty meal brings with it.  With that in mind, here are some ways to make the most of yoru eating experience:

Savor the Flavor of Health:
Eating more fruits and veggies can ward off chronic diseases including heart disease, cancer and diabetes.  But it's not just about eating more plant foods, it about making sure you get enough variety and color in your produce choices.  The colors in plant food represent certain phytonutrients (beneficial compounds including antioxidants, that give these foods their disease fighting properties).  Each vibrant color group of fruits and vegetables offer unique health benefits that the other colors don't have, so it's important to make sure you include all of them in your meals.

You can savor the flavor of health by eating 5-13 servings of vibrantly colored fruits and vegetables each day, which is about 2.5 to 6.5 cups a day, depending on your gender, age and activity level.  To get the most benefit, make green leafy vegetables a daily staple food, while varying the other four color groups several times a week.

Phytonutrient colors image (2)

Savor the Flavor of Mindful Eating: Mindful eating is an ancient practice that is as relevant and important today as it was generations ago.  It is a conscious approach to eating that is the complete opposite of "blindful" eating---the type of eating that unfortunately most people engage in on a daily basis.  Eating on the run, eating while working or watching TV, eating when not hungry, eating foods that you know are not in your best interest, eating for emotional reasons, entertainment, and distraction from stress are all forms of "blindful" eating.

Mindful eating is more than eating slowly without distraction.  it means paying attention to what and when you eat, and learning to make choices based on actual true hunger.  It is a responsible manner of eating that allows you to be present so you can notice and enjoy your food and its effects on your body.  Mindful eating also means learning to value the quality of your food and learning to value yourself---a more important factor in improving your health than anything else.

Savor the Flavor of Famiy and Community:  Research shows that eating as a family or with groups of friends and loved ones has great benefits for your children as well as adults.  Conversations during meals provide opportunities for families and friends to bond, plan, connect and learn from one another.  It's a chance to share information and news of the day, as well as give extra attention to children and teens. Family meals foster warmth, security and love, as well as feelings of belonging---all important aspects of overall health.  it can be unifying experience for all.

Celebrate National Nutrition Month® this March by slowing down and taking time to be present when eating.  By doing so, you will appreciate the health benefits and positive emotions that accompany mealtime.  These are all important steps in developing a healthy, sustainable lifestyle.


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Nutritional Advice That Made Sense JohnBogumill

Within eight weeks I went from 215 to 180 pounds. I know that this is a plan for life - and, it is a very good life.Read More


Her Plan Made So Much Sense Kathy Kopack
As a certified personal trainer, I found it embarrassing that I could not lose those extra pounds of middle-age fat.


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I was referred to Dee for treatment of my arthritis by a doctor whose arthritis was helped from following Dee's Plan. *Everyone is unique, so results may vary.Read More


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