Healthy oils/Unhealthy oils


Coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, butter, ghee, avocado oil, lard and other animal fats


Vegetable oils extracted from seeds, grains, or legumes including canola, corn, cottonseed, grape seed, peanut, rice bran, safflower, soybean, and sunflower oils and margarine

WHAT? Does this seem upside down? Haven’t we been taiught to hate saturated fats, and especially lard?

What we’ve been taught for the last fifty years or more is upside down. We’ve been told that vegetable oils are healthy, when they’re not.


These unhealthy vegetable oils contain an overabundance of omega-6 fatty acids, and while omega-6 fatty acid is an essential fatty acid (meaning that the body cannot recombine or create omega-6’s and we have to ingest them to have them in our bodies), an overabundance or an imbalance of omega-6 fatty acids causes systemic inflammation. On top of that, when heated vegetable oils oxidize, increasing the amount of inflammation and damage they cause in the body.

But it gets worse.

Seed oils also carry a risk of cancer. Mice fed vegetable seed oils, as opposed to avocado or olive oils, have a four times greater rate of metastasis. And, when vegetable oils were heated in a deep fryer the rates of metastasis increased an additional four times, or in other words, a sixteen times greater risk of metastasis than found in those fed healthy oils.

A sixteen percent increase is bad but the risks from deep fried foods may be even worse because cooking oil, especially in restaurants, is often reheated again and again increasing the oxidative damage each time.

Researchers from the Sydney Diet Heart Study found after monitoring and evaluation over seven years, that unsaturated fats in vegetable oils when compared with saturated fats in olive oil and butter, raised the all-cause of death rates by 62 percent.

Vegetable oil usage is number three on a list of diet and lifestyle risk factors. Severe obesity and heavy smoking are numbers one and two respectively. And yep, number three is, perhaps surprisingly, use of vegetable oils. According to this list, vegetable oils increase the risk of death more than physical inactivity, drinking, consumption of sugar or processed meats, air pollution or sodium. Wow!


Quit using vegetable oils. At home, replace unhealthy oils with healthy oils in all cooking and consumption. Get rid of processed foods. Processed foods rely on vegetable oils because of their low price and extended shelf life.

When eating out avoid fast foods and fried foods.

Be aware, be smart. Watch what you eat, and learn to enjoy whole foods including healthy fats and oils.




You can almost guess from its name that fructose is fruit sugar.


That depends: In fresh fruits buffered by fiber, phytonutrients, vitamins, antioxidants, and enzymes, fructose is a healthy treat. But the same cannot be said for fructose as an extract. In its natural state fructose is beneficial. But once extracted from its natural sources and processed, fructose, most commonly consumed as high fructose corn syrup, is the most lipogenic sweetener available.


Lipogenic: fat generation or in other words, the metabolic formation of fat. In simple terms, our body converts fructose to fat more quickly and more easily than almost any other food. Processed fructose is absolutely no good for anybody.


Sugar or sucrose is a compound made up of 50% glucose and 50% fructose bound together by a glycosidic bond. Think of two gumballs held together by a rubber band. To be digestible, the glycosidic bond has to be broken by the enzyme sucrase. This enzyme is found in the small intestine, so sugar cannot be absorbed and digested directly from the stomach. The absorption and digestion of sucrose is slowed and controlled to some degree because of the bond holding the glucose/fructose molecules together.

High fructose corn syrup has a listed composition of 55% fructose and 45% glucose, so it seems to be pretty similar to sugar. Unfortunately high fructose corn syrup may in fact carry up to 90% fructose and about 10% glucose. But the real problem is that unlike sucrose there is no glycosidic bond between the glucose and fructose molecules. With high fructose corn syrup glucose and fructose molecules enter the stomach where they are freely and readily absorbed into the blood stream.


In times of need—starvation, glycogen depletion following a heavy workout, etc.—both fructose and glucose are effective in replenishing glycogen. (Glycogen is the form of glucose the body makes and stores in muscle and tissue to provide energy as needed.) When we are not starving or in a state of glycogen depletion, which is most of the time, excess fructose binds with lipid (fat) molecules causing damage to proteins, cells and tissue. And adding fat to the body.

The continued rise of fructose consumption nationwide is directly linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes, addiction, and metabolic syndrome including cardiovascular disease. In other words, fructose consumption is linked to the leading causes of poor health and death in this country.


It is interesting to consider the similarities between fructose and alcohol. To begin with the fermentation byproduct of high fructose corn syrup is ethanol. And like alcohol, fructose stimulates dopamine production in the brain. And it shares similar metabolic pathways and effects on the liver as alcohol. Both alcohol and fructose are implicated in fatty liver disease; both are lipogenic; both promote insulin resistance in the liver; both cause inflammation through the super-oxidation of proteins. And finally, both stimulate the hedonic pathways in the brain, creating habituation and possible dependance. Yes, it is linked to addiction.

The parallels between alcohol and fructose consumption may seem counter intuitive. After all the effects of alcohol overconsumption are quickly apparent. The effects of fructose overconsumption seem to be more subtle. But obesity, brain fog, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome can be traced directly to consumption of either or both fructose and alcohol.


Ultimately avoiding fructose in any form other than that naturally provided in fruit is the prudent and healthy choice. This one dietary change will require giving up soft drinks, many processed foods, most breakfast cereals, and so on. It will require always reading labels prior to purchase. But the benefits in overall health and well being will more than make up for any changes you make.

Give it a try. Enjoy real foods. Enjoy feeling good!



Why honey? Aren’t all sweeteners basically the same?

Both sucrose (cane sugar, beet sugar, white or brown sugar, and molasses) are made up of glucose and fructose but they are not the same. Sucrose is 100% sugar—50% fructose, 50% glucose held together by a chemical bond that has to be broken by an enzyme in our gut before sucrose can be digested and used by the body. Because of that delay sugar is often sent to the liver for storage after it is absorbed.

Honey on the other hand, is about 85% sugar with varying percentages of fructose and glucose. But 15% of honey comes from water, pollen, enzymes, and other nutrients. Without a chemical bond honey is absorbed, digested, and used readily.

Moreover, honey is a natural antioxidant, rich in polyphenols and other antioxidant components with wide ranging therapeutic properties. Honey has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, anti-psoriasis, anti tumor properties. It can be used to heal wounds, and it feeds and boosts the immune system.

So, no, all sweeteners are not basically the same!

Sugar has no nutritional value and contributes to obesity and a number of chronic health conditions. Honey feeds the body and the gut, and it is naturally sweeter than sugar. Win-win!!

When you have a choice, choose honey.

A Quick Note on Exercise

How important is Exercise?

Based on the data, exercise is as close to a miracle drug as we have. Exercise boosts brain health, mood, metabolism, muscle strength, and longevity. Want to live a longer, more productive life? Exercise!

Is exercise the key to weight loss?

No, exercise is not a weight loss panacea. By improving your strength and mood, and by increasing your muscle capacity, exercise allows your body to function more effectively. Nevertheless, weight loss is dependent on healthy eating.

If you want to lose weight eat a healthy diet and count nutrients, not calories. Add exercise to enjoy a better overall life.

Happy Thanksgiving

Okay, Thanksgiving is almost here and if you are like almost everybody you are ready to cook a turkey, mash potatoes, fix yams, either sweet or savory, bake cornbread, make green bean casserole and pick up Costco pumpkin pies.

Now in the middle of all this kitchen hustle and bustle don’t forget the cranberry sauce. Why cranberries? Well like most of our traditional Thanksgiving foods cranberries were a native American food, not imported, not grown in Europe. (Same for pumpkins, potatoes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, corn, strawberries, and all the other unfamiliar foods the pilgrims ate. So wait, how did green beans sneak onto our traditional menu??)

Back to cranberries: cranberries add an essential acidic tartness to the nearly too bland carb overload that much of the feast provides. Admit it, doesn’t cranberry sauce give a little zing to the meal?

But, what about nutrition? Are cranberries nutritious in any way? According to a study done in England (and what do the English know about cranberries?!?) this little fruit offers big neuroprotective benefits, slowing cognitive decline and improving memory.

And that’s not all. Cranberries help lower cholesterol. Yes, that was a finding of this same study. The LDL levels, the bad cholesterol, of study participants went down significantly in those who ate cranberries daily.

And of course we all know that the antimicrobial flavonoids in cranberry juice help maintain a healthy urinary tract. There are other potential benefits, including a reduction in type 2 diabetes, but we have enough good cranberry news for this Thanksgiving.

Something to think about: apparently, the study participants ate cranberries every day, but I am assuming they did not eat the berries as cranberry sauce. Cranberry sauce is full of sugar and sugar does not benefit diabetics. What to do? I make my own cranberry sauce every year using honey instead of sugar. (Honey is friendlier to the gut bacteria than sucrose.)

Cranberry sauce is easy to make and I find it so much tastier than what comes in a can. Just put berries and water in a saucepan, add honey and bring to a boil. Watch the berries until the skin pops and the berries are soft. You can add other things like orange peel to dress it up. Your guests will be impressed.

However you serve them, enjoy this little American berry and this very American holiday. And have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Look for my book, Eating the Lord’s Way: A Step-by-Step Guide to Living the Word of Wisdom, by Karen Hopkins. Available on Amazon.

How do preservatives work?

I accidentally left a loaf of store bought bread out on the counter for about six weeks. (I only buy it when my grandkids are coming over and somehow it got pushed over out of sight.) Anyway, that loaf of bread still looked perfectly good.

I threw it away.

My normal homemade whole wheat bread would have been moldy and inedible. What made the difference?

Food preservatives.

Food preservatives keep bacteria, mold and yeasts from breaking down our foods. Food preservatives are what allow packaged foods to sit on the shelf or in our pantries or even out on the counter for an extended period of time and still look pretty.

Isn’t that a good thing?

Well, think about digestion. As long as we only want our foods to look good in the package, preservatives might be a good idea. But we now know that the good bacteria, mold and yeasts in our guts are what break down our foods so they can release the nutrients we need. And preservatives block bacteria, mold and yeasts—so, if we want our food to be broken down into the building blocks and nutrients necessary for good health, we shouldn’t be using anything that blocks the gut from doing its job. In terms of health and nutrition preservatives are a really bad idea.

Just one more thing to think about. Just one more reason to avoid processed foods.

Hotels and hygiene/BnB’s and bacteria

I run a little BnB in the guesthouse behind my home—my tiny hotel as my grandson calls it. I am always surprised at how many guests sleep either on top of the comforter or under the comforter but on top of the sheets. What is the reasoning in that?

In any reputable hotel or BnB, the bed sheets are changed after every guest. The sheets are the cleanest part of the bed. The comforter, duvet, or bedspread is not washed as often. And the top covering is exposed to everything in the room. People sit on the bed with the bedspread on. They set their luggage on the bed, they eat, drink and apply make up on the bed. I know because I have cleaned off every one of those things and more from the bedspread.

Nevertheless, unless it is actually soiled, I do not wash the comforter/duvet in my little hotel as often as I wash the sheets. And I guarantee that the hotel staff do not wash bedspreads nearly as often as they wash the sheets. Even when guests have obviously not slept between the sheets, I wash the sheets. The sheets are always the cleanest part of the bed. Sleep between the sheets.

My granddaughter and I shared a room in a BnB not long ago and she was reluctant to sleep in the bed. When I asked her why she replied that other people had slept in the sheets. Of course they had. But they had also eaten from the dishes in the cupboards, used the glasses and silverware, sat on the chairs and couches. The sheets were the least of her problem.

This information did not reassure her. Now she wondered if it was safe to eat off the dishes. And maybe with good reason. If a guest uses a glass, rinses it, and returns it to the cupboard, chances are it won’t be washed with hot soapy water. The same goes for silverware and plates. A germaphobe doesn’t stand a chance in a hotel room!

And, that’s not all. It is likely the cleaners use the same rag and spray to clean the kitchen counter as they use to clean the toilet. You just have to hope they clean the counter first. Disgusting? Yes, but for some reason most folks think more about the sheets than the counter tops.

What to do? If you’re worried about germs (and who isn’t in this post COVID world?) take a little cleaner with you. Spray the counters before you get settled. (They’re probably fine, but just in case.) If you’re worried about germs, wash the glasses and silverware before you use them and leave them out for the cleaners when you leave. They might wash them with hot soapy water or even sanitize them with a dishwasher.

And just to be extra safe, sleep between the sheets!

Sources of Omega 3 fatty acids

Basil, Fresh   358
Broccoli   105
Catfish   201
Chia Seeds20,000
Clams   320
Atlantic Cod   180
Crab   468
Fish Sticks   260
Halibut   529
Leafy Greens   204
Lobster    96
Mahi Mahi   158
Mussels   887
Olive Oil   863
Oysters   780
Alaskan Pollock   560
Salmon, wild 1,184
Salmon, farmed3,003
Scallops   412
Shrimp   376
Swordfish   938
Albacore Tuna   976
Skipjack Tuna   304
  • How much omega 3 do we need each day? Estimates and recommendations vary widely. But we probably need between 2 and 4 grams daily. That is, to be clear, 2,000 to 4,000 mg/daily.
  • Some of the plant sources look amazing! But, when are you going to consume 4 ounces of olive oil, or fresh basil for that matter. Many spices contain omega 3 fatty acids but we use them in very small amounts. That’s okay! Use them.
  • Swordfish, shark, king mackerel and golden bass all contain high levels of mercury. While mercury can be a problem with seafood, it is not a problem across the board. Be careful what you select.
  • Albacore tuna contains more mercury that light or skipjack canned tuna.
  • What about flaxseed? Its numbers really seem too good to be true, and unfortunately it is not a recommended source for omega 3 fatty acids. Flaxseed is a terrific source of alpha-linolenic acid or ALA. ALA is an essential omega 3 fatty acid because we cannot produce it in our bodies. Unfortunately we don’t really need ALA. ALA does however, break down into eicosapentaenoic acid or EPA and docosahexaenoic acid or DHA, which we can use and do need. Good, right? Well, our bodies can only manufacture a small amount of DHA and EPA from ALA. The leftover, unusable ALA in flaxseed is known to cause inflammation. And, more bad news, flaxseed is a source of both omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. Because it provides us with so little usable DHA and EPA, and because both ALA and Omega 6 fatty acids are inflammation causing, I suggest avoiding flaxseed as a supplement or as an additive. Don’t let the numbers fool you!!
  • Sprinkle anchovies on your pizza, snack on walnuts, add chia seeds to your smoothies, cook with olive oil, and EAT seafood!

The sunshine vitamin

A recent study done in Copenhagen shows that vitamin D is not only good for our bones, it is essential for our immune system to function properly. Essential—when a T cell is exposed to a foreign pathogen in our body, that T cell sends out a signaling device otherwise known as a vitamin D receptor. The receptor searches for vitamin D because without it the T cell cannot activate.

Nobody wants an inactive immune system and yet over 40% of the population is deficient in this important vitamin. Well, actually vitamin is a misnomer in this case. Vitamin D is actually a steroid with hormone like action that regulates the functioning of over 200 genes in our bodies. It is essential not only to the immune system, but to maintaining strong bones, teeth and muscles. It functions in regulation of mood and fertility. And more.

Vitamin D is manufactured in our bodies when our skin is exposed to sunlight. Only about 20 minutes a day of direct light is enough to produce all the vitamin D we need. But it needs to be direct light, preferably between 10 AM and 2 PM for best results, without sunscreen. Yes, unfortunately sunscreen blocks our ability to produce vitamin D.

Take a risk, sit out in the sun sunscreen free!

What are other risk factors for vitamin D deficiency?

1. Obesity: Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin. In an obese person, there may not be enough vitamin D in the bloodstream even though there appears to be plenty in the body.

2. Ethnicity: Darker skin absorbs less sunlight and so manufactures less vitamin D.

3. Age: As we age our skin thins and is less able to manufacture vitamin D.

Fortunately vitamin D is available through our diet. Our skin produces vitamin D3. Dietary D3 is available only from animal sources. Fatty fish are the very best source of vitamin D3 outside of the sun.

Egg yolk is another good source. Remember, eat the whole egg. While egg white is a good source of protein, the vitamins, minerals and fat we need are concentrated in the yolk.

Finally, there are supplements. Take D3 supplements. D2 is not as effective. D2 is found in plants and is slightly different from what we manufacture in the sun. Our self-manufactured vitamin D is twice as effective in the body as even the best supplements. So, supplements are less effective by half or more.

Finally, one interesting note on vitamin D from plant sources: it comes mainly from mushrooms and yeast. But mushrooms are the only plant that contain ergosterol—the precursor that converts sunlight into vitamin D. Slice your mushrooms and place them in the sunshine for 15 minutes and you will double the amount of dietary D2 available. Isn’t that amazing?!

Then cook them up with some fatty fish and eat out on the patio!!