Archive for May, 2012

Feeling under Attack this Spring? How Honey May Help You during Allergy Season

Friday, May 25th, 2012

Locally produced, raw honey is believed by many to be a viable alternative treatment for asthma, despite the lack of scientific evidence of its effectiveness.

While few studies exist, there is a large body of anecdotal evidence by people who have tried local, raw honey for treating asthma with great success. Sometimes anecdotal evidence can be just as important when considering a treatment.

The Theory of Local Honey as an Asthma Treatment

The theory itself actually appears quite sound…that locally produced honey, which will contain pollen spores picked up by the bees from local plants, can act much in the same way as a natural  vaccine. By introducing a small amount of allergen into your system, your immune system activates to build up your natural immunity over time.

Why should honey be locally produced? Since allergies are activated through exposure to pollens present in your local area, only local honey will capture pollen spores your community’s plants, grasses and other foliage.

The typical recommendation is to consume a teaspoon-full of locally produced honey per day, starting a few months PRIOR to the pollen season, to allow your system to build up immunity.

What Does the Science Say?

Honey for Birch Pollen

A recent study published last yearassessed the effects of the pre-seasonal use of birch pollen honey [birch pollen added to honey] or regular honey on symptoms and medication during birch pollen season.”

A total of 44 patients with diagnosed birch pollen allergy consumed daily either the birch pollen honey or regular honey from November to March. The control group consisted of 17 patients who were just using their usual allergy medication to control symptoms. From April through May, the patients recorded daily their symptoms and use of medication.

The study found that during birch pollen season, compared to the control group, those using birch pollen honey experienced:

  • 60% reduction in symptoms
  • Twice as many asymptomatic days
  • 70% fewer days with severe symptoms
  • 50% decrease in usage of antihistamines

Interestingly enough, there were few differences between the two honey groups (those who consumed regular honey versus those who consumed birch pollen honey). However, the birch pollen honey group used less histamine than those who used regular honey. The authors concluded that:

“Patients who pre-seasonally used birch pollen honey had significantly better control of their symptoms than did those on conventional medication only, and they had marginally better control compared to those on regular honey. While preliminary, the results indicate that birch pollen honey could serve as a complementary therapy for birch pollen allergy.”

Honey for Hay Fever

Another source of information is abstracted from Honey and Hay Fever: A Report on the Treatment of Hay Fever with Honey, published in 1990:

“[A]n account of a small clinical trial involving 21 patients known to suffer from hay fever is given. The patients were advised to eat 10-20 grams of honey each day for a period lasting from autumn 1987 up to and through the following hay fever season. In some instances honey comb cappings were also eaten. The patients filled in detailed reports on any symptoms experienced during the trial and these are summarized in a table. The mean age of the 16 patients who reported beneficial effects was 42.6 years, compared with 33.2 years for those who reported no benefit. The patients who reported benefit had suffered from hay fever for longer (average 24.8 years) than the other 5 patients (17 years).”

Without reading the book, I can’t specify the benefits or how substantial these benefits were, however it appears that a significant majority, 16 out of 21, did report some form of beneficial effects from honey. In this case, it appears as though regular honey, as opposed to locally produced honey, was used. So as the results from the study above indicate, regular honey may impart some benefits in and of itself, regardless of whether it’s local honey or not…

Parting Thoughts …

Honey is high in fructose – typically about 70-80%.  Since each teaspoon of honey has nearly four grams of fructose, be sure to add the total grams of fructose (including fruits) that you consume each day so you are able to stay within your target levels of maximum sugar intake. This is particularly important if you suffer from signs of elevated insulin, such as overweight, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, diabetes.

As long as it’s used in moderation, eating raw honey is likely to promote health, and may indeed help alleviate asthma symptoms.

Sources:

 

6 Essential Facts about Organic Canola Oil in MELT® Organic Products

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

Some have expressed concern about the use of canola oil in MELT® Organic spreads. Legitimate issues exist for conventional (i.e., non-organic, GMO) canola, just as they do for any conventional dietary oil. The main concerns include the following:

1. Canola oil is produced using solvents (hexane), which leaves behind residues of toxic chemicals (hexane) in the oil.

Response: Our organic, non-GMO canola oil is produced through a mechanical expeller-pressed method so solvents and hexane are not used and are not present. PLEASE NOTE: manufacturers of any organically certified dietary oil are by law banned from using solvents for extraction, therefore you can have full confidence that NONE of the plant- and fruit-based oils in MELT Organic spreads contain residues of hexane or any solvent.

2. Canola oil is made from GMO seed – even organic canola oil in North America is at risk of containing GMOs due to cross contamination.

Response: We agree organic canola oil sourced in North America is at risk of contamination with GMO seed unless verified with genetic testing, which is why we source organic canola oil from the Netherlands. Each batch of our organic canola oil is genetically tested to ensure no GMO contamination is present. The Non-GMO Project provides excellent vetting of organic canola sources and requires genetic testing in order to achieve certification.

3. Canola oil is often rancid on arrival.

Response: Conventional canola oil may be rancid on shelf at your local grocery store because like any oil high in polyunsaturated fat such soy, safflower, and corn oils, canola oil is sensitive to heat and does not have a long shelf life. However, MELT Organic sources organic canola oil that is tested for freshness for EVERY batch.

4. Canola oil is high in Omega 6s and Americans already consume too much Omega 6s in their diets.

Response: We agree Omega 6s are generally consumed in quantities far too high to be of nutritional benefit, which is why we are vigilant about keeping the Omega 6:Omega 3 ratio as low as possible in addition to keeping the overall polyunsaturated fat content less than 12% in all of our products. Our organic canola oil is about 60% monounsaturated fat, 23% Omega 6s, and 10% Omega 3s with minor amounts of other fatty acids depending on the batch. As a non-dominant ingredient, the organic canola oil is used to its maximum benefit by boosting the Omega 3s per serving to 425 mg, while maintaining an Omega 6:Omega 3 ratio of 2:1 – an exceptionally low, healthful ratio, especially for a butter improvement. In addition, MELT® Organic spreads are 87% monounsaturated and healthy saturated fat, which is an ideal fatty acid ratio to consume.

Oils high in Omega 6s and Omega 3s like canola, soy, safflower, and flax should be avoided for cooking purposes as well as foods fried using these oils (e.g., potato chips, corn chips, fries) because polyunsaturated fats are prone to oxidation, polymerization, and cross-bonding. Oxidized oils are carcinogenic and should be avoided.

5. Canola oil is an invention of the food industry.

Response:  Canola oil is the generic brand name for rapeseed oil. The “canola” name is indeed a recent invention of the food industry for marketing purposes since the word “rapeseed” is not as catchy or appealing to the general public. However, rapeseed oil has been around for thousands of years in China, India, and Japan as a food source that was always eaten with saturated fat for proper absorption. The primary difference between today’s canola oil and more ancient rapeseed oil is the monounsaturated fat in canola oil is primarily oleic acid (which is also found in olive and hi-oleic sunflower oils) instead of erucic acid. Today’s canola oil also tends to be refined as opposed to unrefined in its ancient use.

6. Canola oil is a poisonous substance, an industrial oil that does not belong in the body. It contains ‘the infamous chemical warfare agent mustard gas,’ hemagglutinins and toxic cyanide-containing glycocides; it causes mad cow disease, blindness, nervous disorders, clumping of blood cells and depression of the immune system. 

Response:  Reports on the dangers of rapeseed oil are rampant on the internet, mostly stemming from an article, “Blindness, Mad Cow Disease and Canola Oil,” by John Thomas, which appeared in Perceptions magazine (March/April 1996) – a non-scientific magazine. Some of the claims are ludicrous. Although rape is a member of the brassica or mustard family, it is not the source of mustard gas used in chemical warfare. Glycosides or glycosinolates (compounds that produce sugars on hydrolysis) are found in most members of the brassica family, including broccoli, kale, cabbage and mustard greens. They contain sulfur (not arsenic), which is what gives mustard and cruciferous vegetables their pungent flavor. These compounds are goitrogenic and are ideally neutralized by cooking or fermentation. As rapeseed meal was high in glycosides, it could not be used in large amounts for animal feeding. However, plant breeders have been able to breed out the glycosides as well as the erucic acid from canola oil. The result is a low-glycoside meal that can be used as an animal feed. In fact, canola meal for animal feed is an important Canadian export.

Hemagglutinins, substances that promote blood clotting and depress growth, are found in the protein portion of the seed, which are not present in the oil because all proteins are removed. Canola oil was not the cause of the mad cow epidemic in Britain, although, it is possible feeding cows a diet high in polyunsaturated fats may have made them more susceptible to certain diseases.

Like all fats and oils, rapeseed oil has industrial uses. It can be used as an insecticide, a lubricant, a fuel and in soap, synthetic rubber and ink. Like flax oil and walnut oil, it can be used to make varnish. Traditional fats like coconut oil, olive oil and tallow also have industrial uses, but that does not make them dangerous for human consumption.

We have had reports of allergies to canola, and internet articles describe a variety of symptoms — tremors, shaking, palsy, lack of coordination, slurred speech, memory problems, blurred vision, problems with urination, numbness and tingling in the extremities, and heart arrhythmias — that cleared up on discontinuance of canola. None of this has been reported in the medical journals, however.1

Health concerns with consuming (organic, non-GMO) canola oil are identical to those with over consuming any (organic, non-GMO) oil high in polyunsaturated fat: it’s about getting the right balance of fatty acids in your diet, most importantly healthy saturated fats like those found in virgin coconut oil. It is why the polyunsaturated fat content of all MELT Organic spreads is less than 12% of the total fatty acid profile with an Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio of 2:1.

  1. Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig, PhD, “The Great Con-ola (Part 1)”, Nexus Magazine, Aug/Sept 2002
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