Saturday, May 28, 2011

How to Pick Olive Oils with the Most Phenols

Extra Virgin Olive Oil has the highest levels of phenols.

There's no denying the health benefits of including olive oil in your diet. The Mediterranean diet with its generous use of olive oil is  often touted as one of the healthiest of diets. Health reports gushed with its many health benefits--lowers cholesterol and blood pressure, fights cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer's disease and weight gain and reduces various forms of cancer.. According to Northwestern’s Medill report, these health benefits are due to the presence of phenols in olive oil. The phenols found in olive oil are phytochemicals that have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anticoagulant properties. Not all olive oil has the same levels of phenols and here are some criteria to help choose olive oil phenols.

Highest Levels of Phenols

There are many grades of olive oil—extra virgin, virgin or refined. Extra virgin olive oil is made by pressing (technical term, milling) the olives to extract oil without heat or chemicals. As such, the highest levels of phenols are found in extra virgin oil, since no heat or chemicals are used to destroy nutrients found in the olives. On the other hand, virgin, pure or refined olive oil may use chemicals or heat to process olive oil, thereby lowering its phenols content.

Factors Affecting Phenols Content

Even among extra virgin olive oil, the levels of phenols can vary according to the climate conditions, the type of olive tree and when the fruits are harvested. For instance, fruits picked while they are green and at their peak of growth will yield higher levels of phenols.  You may want to check for place of manufacture, type of olives used in the label. Lab tests can reveal its level of phenols but you can also use your taste buds to help you. Olive oil with a pungent and robust taste usually has higher phenols than those with medium, mild or fruity taste.


Some foods like wine and cheese get better with age. Not olive oil—its phenols levels are highest when it is fresh. Why? Age can destroy nutrient value and cause it to go rancid. When buying a bottle of olive oil, choose a dark bottle as light destroys nutrients. Look for one that is not sitting in front or on top of shelf, expose to store lighting.  It is important to check for expiration date. Look for “best before” label and use it within the date specified. Olive oil has a lifespan of about a year to 18 months of harvesting. 

Quality Olive Oils

Premium olive oils may have even higher concentration of phenols. These olive oils usually have some form of certification or seal from a government agency or an independent certifying body. Examples include the North American Olive Oil Association or the California Olive Oil Council. They tend to be more expensive as the cultivation and production process require more care to ensure better flavor and higher source of phenols. 

Check out more benefits of Olive oil:

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Make Your Own Sunscreen

The sun is out and you're happy to feel the warm and heat on your back. You enjoy basking in the sun or just sitting by the pool. Although some degree of sun exposure is healthy--they help the body produce vitamin D, too much sun exposure can be hazardous to health. Health experts warn that UV (ultraviolet) radiation from the sun can infliit cellular damage to your skin, eyes and even suppress your immune system. To be specific, UV rays can cause wrinkles, premature skin aging,age spots, skin cancer and eye problems such as cataracts, pigmentation and macular degeneration.

Concerned? We should be. UV rays are not visible to the eye and their harmful effects are often overlooked. However, don't let that fool you. Take steps to minimize the damaging effects of UV radiation.--protect, protect and protect!

  • Protect your skin by slathering on sunscreen. Wear protective clothing and gear (such as hats, shades) when in the sun for long periods of time and always look for shades during the time when UV rays are the strongest (10AM to 4PM). 
  • Protect your eyes with sunglasses, preferably with ones with close to 100% protection against UV rays.
  • Protect your skin by eating lots of fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin B, C and E--they help to counteract against UV radiation.

The sunscreen you buy from the local pharmacy or grocery store may have a wide UV spectrum protection. But are you concerned about the number of chemicals used to do the task? Are you allergic to the chemicals? Or do you simply prefer a greener more natural way to protect your skin, after all, your skin is drinking it some of the stuff.

If you're concerned, just as I'm--you need despair no more. I was surfing the net for natural ways to make your own sunscreen when I stumble upon Sophie Uliano of the Gorgeously Green fame. She makes one fine looking natural sunscreen and it seems so easy, I thought I share it here:

You can use the basic recipe shown in the video and use other oils instead. Nature has endowed us with more choices of oils that offer natural sun protection. Although the Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is not high in most of these oils, you can always kick it up a notch by adding zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, natural minearl  sun filters that don't cause photosensitivity disorders. You can buy them on line.

  • Avocado oil (SPF 6 to 8): My personal favorite and I use it under foundation.
  • Red Raspberry Seed Oil (SPF 28 to 50)
  • Cannabis Oil (SPF 6)
  •  Macadamia Oil (SPF 6)
  •  Jojoba oil (SPF 6)
  • Hemp Seed oil (SPF 6)