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ELI5 – Fat – Hazardous Snack or Healthy Energy

Fat. Everyone seems to want to lose it, and yet it’s truly essential to our well-being. Healthy fat and dietary oil protects your organs, produces important hormones, supports cell growth, and provides your body with energy. So what exactly is it? We’ve heavily researched the topic and will attempt to ELI5 (explain like I’m 5 years old).

Fat is a molecule, like carbohydrate or protein. But unlike those other two macronutrients, fat has no taste or texture. Fatty acids are the smallest building blocks of fat. They’re made up of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms that form chains of various lengths. Scientists have determined there are “essential fatty acids” (EFAs). Unlike essential oils, which are the “essence of” a particular plant, EFAs are truly essential.

Let’s break down healthy and harmful fats so we can determine what to leave on the market shelf.

Monounsaturated fats contain omega-9 essential fatty acids (EFAs)

The healthiest of fats come from eating whole foods like avocados, nuts and seeds, and olives. These foods are high in healthy monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), like oleic acid, which help lower cholesterol levels. While our bodies can create these from other fats, dietary monounsaturated fats play a role in reducing inflammation and cardiovascular disease risk factors like high blood pressure.

There are plenty foods to get your daily dose of healthy fat. Here are a few:



-Tahini (toasted sesame butter)

-Seeds (flax, chia, hemp)


-Nuts (macadamia, almonds, walnuts)

-Bottled oils (…but which ones?)

Polyunsaturated fats contain omega-6 and omega-3 EFA

An ideal diet includes dietary fat of equal parts omega-6 and omega-3. This is largely unachievable for most people’s preferences, which all but requires us to avoid oils altogether, so many doctors reduce that target to 2:1 or 3:1. Instead of focusing on eliminating omega-6 by avoiding affordable oils, you can up your omega-3s through flaxseeds, hemp seeds, and chia seeds. (These have been shown to boost mental health and contribute to healthy weight loss.)

DHA and EPA are important omega-3 fatty acids for brain health. These are found abundantly in the marine plant, algae, and less concentrated in some seeds and fish. It is a widely debated topic for how much our bodies can convert other fats to DHA/EPA and just how healthy (or unhealthy) they are, so if you want to go down that rabbit-hole, all the power to you! However, Pub Med, a widely respected source on health, concludes “the overall effect on blood lipids for marine omega-3 EPA and DHA seems to be protective due to overall improvements in LDL particle size and density”. So, if nothing else, supplementing with algae oil is good for cardiovascular health.

Cold-pressed canola oil—free of hexane—is another great way to get healthy fats into your diet. It contains vitamin E, which helps protect against damage from free radicals; it also helps regulate your metabolism so you burn more calories throughout the day! Canola oil has a 2:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3, and a cold pressed version does not use the harmful solvent hexane to separate oil out of the seed.

Saturated fats are not created equally

Maybe you’ve heard that saturated fat is the worst kind of fat.

But here’s the thing: it’s not as simple as that. Fat is something we all need to stay healthy. It helps us absorb vitamins and minerals and keeps us satiated. Unfortunately, fat has gotten a bad rap over the years for the types of saturated fat in animal products. But there are many types of healthy saturated fats you can enjoy without guilt!

Virgin and refined coconut oils contain the highest amount of saturated fats of common oils, which is why they are solid at room temperature, but cholesterol levels tell the whole story. Healthline offers a great breakdown of how normal amounts of coconut oil consumption do not correlate with increased low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the bad cholesterol. While they admit more human research is needed, a negative effect to LDL is apparent from consuming animal fats. The point is, saturated fats are complex and our bodies treat them differently depending on the source.

The American Heart Association recommends getting just 5-6 percent of daily calories from saturated fats; too many and the level of “bad” cholesterol in your blood will skyrocket. They don’t, however, separate the forms of saturated fats. Still, you can easily keep within this range by avoiding dairy products and instead consuming normal amounts of coconut oils.

Trans fat is not a healthy fat

Trans fats, which are prevalent in processed foods like meat, dairy, and hydrogenated vegetables oils, can contribute to a number of significant health problems including stroke and heart disease. The best way to avoid trans fats is to follow a plant-based diet free of hydrogenated oils. This will also lower your risk of developing diabetes and cancer.

Most countries have banned the production of artificial trans fats. In 2022, these would be hard to find available on their own. Prior, they were common in margarine and vegetable shortening. Trans fats are not, however, gone. They are prevalent in animal fats such as meat and dairy and in processed foods such as KRAFT Peanut Butter. If you’re already in the habit of reading nutrition labels and ingredients, be sure to look for “partially hydrogenated” or “hydrogenated” and steer clear!

Some individuals have deduced that our bodies can fight these trans fats in small amounts, so all is well. Even if that were true, the limit to what our bodies can fight is undetermined and a health-focused diet avoids harmful food whenever possible.

The eli5 healthy fat is actually quite simple

A healthy fat is one that is found naturally in whole food sources. This means that it is not chemically altered, and it’s not something you can find in a lab. For oils, the less processing the better. A cold pressed or extra virgin option means less processing.

If you still aren’t sure which oils are good for you, choose unsaturated:

1) Monounsaturated fats: found in olive oil, avocado oil, cold-pressed canola oil, peanut oil, sesame oil, algae oil, and nut butters (like peanut butter). These fats can help lower cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease.

2) Polyunsaturated fats: found in flax oil or walnuts (both of which are high in omega-3 fatty acids). These fats have been shown to reduce inflammation throughout your body, which helps decrease pain and stiffness associated with arthritis.

When it comes to choosing your fats, eat them! Opt for those that come from whole food sources rather than oil. Our bodies prefer fats from whole foods. For nuts and seeds, the body uses what is needed and does not store the extra fat!

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How Kombu Kelp Plays An Important Role In A Healthy Diet

Iodine is a mineral that’s essential for the normal functioning of your thyroid gland. It’s also necessary for healthy immune function and metabolism. However, many people don’t get enough iodine in their diets and are therefore at risk of developing goiter, hypothyroidism, or other thyroid problems. Thankfully, kelp—a type of seaweed that serves as a natural source of iodine—can help prevent these conditions in those who aren’t getting enough from their diets. In the article, we present a method to keep the benefits of kombu and leave the seaweed out of your meals.

Image by Freepik

Kelp or kombu is a “superfood” seaweed that has some of the highest amounts of iodine of any edible plant.

Kombu has been eaten in Asia for thousands of years and contains high levels of iodine, minerals, and vitamins—all essential nutrients that help to keep our bodies healthy. Plus, it contains folate which protects against birth defects during pregnancy or childhood development when taken regularly before conception.

Iodine is an essential mineral that is needed for normal growth, development, and metabolism. It is needed for proper functioning of the brain and nervous system. It improves the quality of our hair, is important for eye health, and protects our skin and eyes from UV radiation.

These are some of the reasons we add whole pieces of kombu to the water when cooking our grains. Cooking kombu releases iodine to the water and the grains absorb this nutrient with the water. The kombu will remain whole and can be eaten or discarded after cooking the grain.

Iodine deficiency is common among vegetarians and vegans.

Iodine deficiency is common problem throughout the world, and higher among vegetarians and vegans. When consuming a whole-food, plant-based diet, we are less likely to eat foods that are processed with iodized salt. To counteract this, we recommend adding kombu to the water when you cook your grains. Kombu can be found at Community Natural Foods and other health food stores in Calgary. See our article on fermenting brown rice for a nifty way to use kombu and a turbo-charged path to better health.


So, now that you know kombu kelp can be a great addition to your diet, it’s time to get started! Maybe you want to try adding it into some recipes or simply eating it raw. We recommend adding whole pieces to cook grains and discarding or eating the kelp once the grain is cooked. Or, let us do the work by trying our one of our delicious Zushi Bowls. Either way, the important thing is that you are taking steps towards a healthier lifestyle.

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Healthiest Way To Cook Brown Rice

Sprouted Brown Rice

Fermenting is an ancient practice that predigests your food for you so that your body can more easily absorb its nutrients. In this article we’ll look at how soaking and germination change brown rice before you cook it, plus discuss how fermentation improves phytic acid levels and makes zinc more bioavailable for absorption into our bodies. You will learn a method of this trade-secret that you can try at home, where you will notice a big improvement in flavour and texture of your next batch of rice.

The rice here had begun to sprout before being steam cooked in fresh water. The addition of kombu kelp to the cooking water adds nutrients to the water and rice.

Brown rice is a whole grain, which means it contains the bran, germ and endosperm.

The bran is the outer layer of the rice kernel that provides us with fiber and other nutrients. The germ is an inner portion of each kernel where new plant life grows, so it’s also rich in vitamins E, B1/B3/B5/B9, phosphorous and iron. The endosperm is a starchy carbohydrate (carbohydrates are one of three macronutrients).

Brown rice can be eaten on its own or included as part of a meal like stir-fry or a bowl like our Zushi series (we offer this for our meal prep service in Calgary). Because brown rice has more fiber than white rice you’ll feel fuller for longer after consuming this type of whole grain—which means you might be less likely to reach for snacks if you’re trying to lose weight!

Fermented brown rice has a lower phytic acid content.

Phytic acid is an antinutrient that can bind to nutrients in your digestive tract, preventing them from being absorbed by the body. It’s found in whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds and soy products. Phytic acid is not bad for us, we just prefer the diverse nutrients locked in the grain!

For another example, sauerkraut is a fermented food that is high in lactic acid bacteria. These little friends produce the phytase enzyme which breaks down phytic acid during the fermentation process. A similar process occurs when fermenting brown rice at home.

Soaking, germination and fermentation also increase zinc absorption and reduce antinutrient compounds that keep you from absorbing zinc from your food.

Zinc is an essential mineral that plays a role in many bodily functions. It helps maintain your immune system, supports healthy growth and development, and promotes healing. Zinc also helps prevent the breakdown of protein in your body.

Of the many benefits of fermented foods, it’s been known to help people with digestive issues like leaky gut syndrome, Crohn’s disease or celiac disease. But what makes fermented brown rice so special?

Fermenting grains like brown rice is an ancient practice that partly predigests the food for you so your body can absorb its nutrients more easily.

When you ferment foods, lactic acid bacteria such as Lactobacillus and Leuconostoc break down carbohydrates in the grain and produce beneficial enzymes. These enzymes act as natural preservatives, preventing spoilage that would otherwise occur when fermenting foods at room temperature. In addition to preserving these grains for future consumption, these enzymes also enhance their nutritional value by increasing vitamin B absorption and breaking down phytates—which inhibit vitamin B absorption—in your gut.

Two sizes available: large Communal size and individual Convenient size

Check out this fermented brown rice as part of a fully prepared meal! We call this the Turtle Island Taco Bowl and sometimes even add taco spice into the rice water.

Soak your brown rice overnight before cooking to enhance its nutritional value and help your body digest it better.

The best part is you gain all these benefits with nothing but rice and water in your kitchen.

Start by bringing dechlorinated water (boiled) to room temperature before adding the grains. Soak rice with at least 2x water to dry rice by weight in a sealed container on your counter for up to 24 hours. The rice will absorb water and we want it fully submerged throughout the soak. Drain and store some of the fluid in your fridge for later use–this is the beginning of your starter fluid!

For the next batch, use 10 parts dechlorinated water to one part starter fluid in your soak. Repeat the process above and keep the new rice soak as your starter fluid. After only three cycles, the fluid will have developed enough phytase to break down almost all of the phytic acid in the whole grain. The results improve with every batch!

When cooking, use fresh tap water instead of hot water to allow the fermented rice to slowly rise to temperature. We use 1.1x water to the soaked rice weight and add kombu kelp to the water. In our steam oven, this takes 53 minutes. A counter top rice cooker might need more water and less time. You should yield 2.8x dry rice to cooked rice with this method. Now, how can we better finish the rice?

Rice vinegar contains probiotics.

Probiotics are microorganisms that can be found in a variety of foods and dietary supplements. They further aid digestion by helping break down food, boosting your immune system and improving nutrient absorption. These tiny helpers can even help to prevent certain diseases by competing against harmful strains such as E. coli or salmonella!

Once the rice is finished, add up to the cooked rice about 2% (by weight) of sushi vinegar. We make our sushi vinegar by adding a pinch of salt and coconut sugar to rice vinegar and mixing until dissolved. Pour the vinegar mixture over your rice and fold it in to further improve the nutritional value, taste, and shelf life.


It’s not a secret that brown rice is one of the healthiest foods on the planet. It has fibre and valuable nutrients, including magnesium and zinc. And now, you can increase its benefits by fermenting it in your own home! If you’ve already tried one of our Zushi Bowls, you’ve likely noticed just how delicious this method of preparing rice can be!