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Rainbow Kitchen

Protein and Fat Protect Your Brain

By Allison St. Claire
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People 70 and older who eat food high in carbohydrates have nearly four times the risk of developing mild cognitive impairment, and the danger also rises with a diet heavy in sugar, Mayo Clinic researchers have found. Those who consume a lot of protein and fat relative to carbohydrates are less likely to become cognitively impaired, the study found.

The following headline got my head nodding vigorously up and down  the other day: “Eating Lots of Carbs, Sugar May Raise Risk of Cognitive Impairment, Mayo Clinic Study Finds.” The lead sentence in the article bounced me to my feet, cheering: “Those 70-plus who ate food high in fat and protein fared better cognitively, research showed...Those whose diets were highest in fat – compared to the lowest –  were 42 percent less likely to face cognitive impairment, and those who had the highest intake of protein had a reduced risk of 21 percent.”

Finally, even mainstream medical is getting it! Low-fat diets simply don’t work for most people who want to lose weight. Take the push to consume skim milk, for example. Pig farmers love skim milk – it makes the pigs really fat, really fast. And fat doesn’t increase your cholesterol. But here’s how skim milk does (excerpted from “Dirty Secrets of the Food Processing Industry” published by the Weston A. Price Foundation, a non-profit, independent research group).

“In production, liquid milk is forced through a tiny hole at high pressure, and then blown out into the air. This causes a lot of nitrates to form and the cholesterol in the milk is oxidized. Cholesterol is your best friend –  you don’t have to worry about natural cholesterol in your food; however, you do not want to eat oxidized cholesterol. Oxidized cholesterol contributes to the buildup of plaque in the arteries, to atherosclerosis. So when you drink reduced-fat milk thinking that it will help you avoid heart disease, you are actually consuming oxidized cholesterol, which initiates the process of heart disease.”

According to Sarah Pope, aka The Healthy Home Economist, who has often spoken out on national TV and through numerous health-related outlets about the dismal results of fat phobias : “If you drink skim milk, you will be missing out on the satiating, blood sugar and insulin steadying effects of saturated fat, so your body will automatically give you sugar and carb (grains) cravings to make up for it. The body is able to MAKE saturated fat out of sugars, hence the sugar cravings that are impossible to control when you eat a low-fat diet that includes skim milk.”

Wonder how our grandkids are going to fare in the war on childhood obesity when experts are vigorously promoting only skim milk for kids?

But how about us in the older category? For more alarming news, let’s go back to the Mayo Clinic report: “People 70 and older who eat food high in carbohydrates have nearly four times the risk of developing mild cognitive impairment, and the danger also rises with a diet heavy in sugar, Mayo Clinic researchers have found. Those who consume a lot of protein and fat relative to carbohydrates are less likely to become cognitively impaired, the study found. The findings are published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.” The study was funded by the National Institute on Aging.

So looking ahead to holiday entertaining, try this healthy dairy-sourced protein and fat dessert.

 

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

(Adapted from "Nourishing Traditions." Serves 16-20)

2-1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1 cup creme fraiche or sour cream with no additives

1 cup whole yogurt

1 cup butter, softened

1-1/4 cup sugar (preferably dried cane sugar)

4 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt (preferably unprocessed sea salt)

1 8-oz can crushed pineapple, water packed

2 cups finely grated carrots

1 cup dried unsweetened coconut meat

½ cup pecans, chopped

 

Icing

2 cups cream cheese, softened

½ cup butter, softened

1 tablespoon vanilla

1/2-3/4 cup raw honey

 

Mix flour with yogurt and cultured cream. Cover and leave for 12-24 hours in a warm place. Line a buttered 9-inch by 13-inch Pyrex pan with buttered parchment paper and coat pan and paper with flour (preferably unbleached).

Cream butter with sugar. Beat in eggs, baking soda, cinnamon, vanilla and salt. Gradually add flour mixture. Fold in pineapple (with juice), carrots, coconut and nuts. Pour into pan and bake at 300 degrees for about 2 hours. Let cool slightly and turn onto a platter or tray.

To make icing, place cream cheese, butter, vanilla and honey in food processor and blend until smooth. Generously ice the top and sides of the cake.


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Allison St. Claire loves to dream about, study, grow, play with, prepare and ultimately enjoy eating great food.

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