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Oils. The Good, Bad and the Ugly

Oils. The Good, Bad and the Ugly

One of the most frequent questions I hear from folks is the one that has to do with oils. Which is the healthiest oil? Which oil should I use for cooking? Is coconut oil good for you? The question came up at the most recent grocery store tour this past weekend.

There are no straight answers to any of these questions. In some circumstances a very healthy oil is not one most chefs would use for cooking; and in some cases, a good cooking oil is not one a dietitian would recommend for health.

Oils that are suited for cooking have to withstand high heat. Certain oils, when heated, undergo changes that render them unstable and therefore not the best choices for cooking. Olive oil for example, (which is recommended for good health since it contains unsaturated fats, and has low levels of omega 6 fatty acids which tend to promote inflammation), is not well suited for frying. Olive oil has a low smoking point, meaning it will start to smoke at a lower heat than peanut oil for example. Olive oil is better used for dressings, marinades and baking. Conversely, palm oil which is a good frying oil scores low for health.

So that’s the dilemma.

After reviewing many sources, searching the internet and exploring nutrition and culinary references, I came across a chart that does a nice job in presenting the dichotomy between culinary and health preferences. It includes information about the nuances of different oils such as the level of refinement, the presence of omega 3 and 6, and even includes some information about genetic modification.

Click here to visit a blog post that explains how the chart was created. It is a quick read. The chart is linked to the blog post.

To read the chart: The chart is divided into four sections by two axes. The culinary considerations are on the X axis and the health component of the oils is on the Y axis. The further right you go on the X axis the better suited the oil in terms of cooking (higher temperatures). The further up you go on the Y axis the better the oil in terms of health. So you might see for example that although walnut oil is made from heart healthy walnuts which are high in omega 3 fatty acids, heating the oil compromises these, therefore it is not recommended for cooking but can be used as a ‘finishing’ oil in dressings, marinades and such.

I hope you find this chart as useful as I have and it is my wish that it answers some of your questions. Be well, stay well!

Author:Julia Salomon

Julia is a corporate dietitian and nutrition educator with Affinity Health System.


Staying active in winter

winter exercise, healthy, fit

Outdoor activities are a great way to get some fresh air and stay active during our long winter months. Following some safety tips can help minimize your risk of injury while still enjoying cold weather activities.

Before participating in winter sports such as skiing, skating, hockey or sledding, you should do a short warm up. Cold muscles are more likely to become injured. This warm up should consist of some light exercises and gentle stretching. Each stretch should be held for at least 30 seconds. Before, during and after your activity, you should drink plenty of water.

You should also wear protective gear including goggles, helmet, gloves and padding. In addition, wear several layers of light, loose and water resistant clothing. This allows you to accommodate your body’s changing temperature. Proper footwear that provides warmth and dryness is also very important.

When people are exposed to cold temperatures for extended periods of time, your body can lose heat faster than it can be produced. Hypothermia affects the brain and is a condition of abnormally low body temperature. It can cause unclear thinking and may inhibit body movement. Elderly people with inadequate food, clothing or heating, babies sleeping in areas and people who remain outdoors for extended periods of time are some of the most common victims of hypothermia.

Frostbite is a seasonal concern for those who live in a cold environment. Frostbite is an injury to the body due to freezing and causes a loss of feeling and color in affected areas. It most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers or toes. Frostbite can permanently damage the body; severe cases can lead to amputation. The risk of frostbite is increased in people with reduced blood circulation and those who are not dressed properly for extremely cold temperatures. Frostbite and hypothermia often go hand-in-hand and should be evaluated by a healthcare clinician right away. Taking preventive action is your best defense against extreme cold-weather conditions. By preparing your home and car in advance for winter emergencies, and by observing safety precautions during times of extremely cold weather, you can reduce the risk of weather related problems.

Many slips, trips and falls outdoors occur during the winter months from November through February. A simple way to avoid this is to tread safely and walk like a penguin to prevent snow and ice related injuries. Walk flat footed and take short steps; wear footwear that provides traction; step down, not out from curbs; use your arms for balance and carry only what you can to make it easier to navigate.

Snow shoveling, although not a sport can also be a great form of exercise but it comes with some safety concerns. Snow removal is one of the most common causes of back injuries during the winter months. Improper body mechanics can cause painful muscle sprains, strains or worse. There are, however, ways to help prevent such injuries. Invest in an ergonomic shovel. This is a shovel with a curved handle or adjustable handle length and will help reduce the amount of stress you put on your back. You should also use proper lifting techniques. Always bend at the hips and lift with your leg muscles, not your back. Do not try to lift loads that are too heavy for you. Whenever possible, use a snow blower instead of a shovel. Use the power of your legs to propel the machine forward, keeping your back upright and knees slightly bent.

Exercise and fresh air are great ways to stay healthy. By following some simple safety tips, you can enjoy the Wisconsin winters.


Author: Rhonda Repinski, ANP-BC

 Rhonda Repinski is an adult nurse practitioner at Ministry Medical Group in Tomahawk.

Losing weight doesn’t take perfection


Losing weight doesn’t take perfection. It takes preparation, patience and persistence. Here are some tips to help you get started on your goal.

  • Find out what motivates you – ask yourself “why” seven times. Each time you answer the question, answer at a deeper level to find your true purpose. This reason will motivate you for the long-term.
  • Start with a smaller goal. Studies show losing just five or ten percent of your body weight can reduce blood pressure, lower diabetes risk, lower your risk of sleep apnea, reduce joint pain and improve other conditions.
  • Eating 500 fewer calories a day can result in you losing one pound each week without increasing activity. This is good news for people whose weight makes it painfully hard to move.
  • But, it’s not just about counting calories; it’s about making your calories count. Eating 1,500 calories from fruits, vegetables and lean protein will satisfy you. Eating 1,500 calories of fried chicken, fries, cookies and donuts may leave you craving more.

If you’re ready, these changes will help create positive results.

Author: Olga Barchugova, MD

Dr Barchugova is a family medicine physician and medical weight loss specialist with Ministry Medical Group in Weston.

Keeping winter skin healthy


Cold, dry air and intense indoor heating is a perfect formula for wintertime skin issues, whether your skin simply feels tight and uncomfortable, it’s so dry that it’s cracking and flaking or it’s so inflamed that you’re constantly itching. Stop using gloves and mittens as an excuse to hide rough, cracked hands—keep your skin moisturized during the winter by following these tips.

Stay dry…

Wear protective outerwear when you go outside, but avoid irritation from fabrics like wool by wearing it over a thin cotton-based layer. Ditch your wet socks, gloves and other outerwear as soon as you’re out of the cold. The fabric’s wetness on your skin—especially the more sensitive skin on your hands—can cause irritation, itching, cracking and even sores if left on too long.

But stay hydrated.

If you’re cozying up to your space heater or blasting your heating system, you’re exposing yourself to hot, dry air that can lead to dry, itchy skin. Combat this by setting up several small humidifiers in your home or workspace to distribute skin-saving moisture.

Keep that moisture locked into your skin for as long as possible by using an oil-based moisturizer; the oil creates a protective layer, keeping moisture in. Look for an oil-based moisturizer that is labeled non-clogging, so that the oil will soak into the skin instead of just sitting on top of it. For the tougher skin on your feet, try exfoliating accumulated dead skin off before applying a lotion with petroleum jelly or glycerine.

Stay warm (not hot)…

Moisturizers are most effective when applied after a shower or bath, but keep an eye on your water temperature. Steaming hot showers are tempting after spending time in the cold, but the temperature intensity breaks down barriers in the skin that leads to loss of moisture. Stick to warm water and limit your tub time. If you’re especially itchy, try a lukewarm bath with oatmeal or baking soda to calm skin.

And stay protected.

Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean it’s time to skip the sunscreen. Sunlight at any time of year can damage skin—if you’re squinting against the glare of the sun against snow, think of how that’s impacting your skin as well! Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen on any exposed skin about half an hour before going outside, and reapply if you’re exposed for more than an hour or sweating heavily. In addition to the SPF, cut back on any alcohol-based facial products that strip your skin of its natural oils or clay-based products that draw moisture out of skin.

If you’re experiencing chronic inflammation, itchiness or other skin issues, it might be a good idea to talk to your clinician about his or her recommended products and care regimens for your specific skin type and needs. Take care of your skin and keep a healthy winter glow!


Author: Michele Holder MD

Dr. Holder specializes in the treatment and diagnosis of disorders of the skin for all ages, and is known to be committed to comprehensive, compassionate patient care. Dr. Holder earned her medical degree at the University of Iowa College of Medicine-Iowa City. She served her residency at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, University of Iowa-Iowa City.

Caution: Thin Ice!

Over 6,000 named lakes in Wisconsin provide many opportunities to play on the ice. How do we know when it’s safe?

Here are some guidelines before going out on the ice.

  • Test the thickness of the ice and retest every ten feet with an ice chisel, ice auger or cordless drill.
  • Wear a life vest under your winter gear (not when traveling in an enclosed vehicle).
  • Carry ice picks to help pull yourself back onto solid ice if you break through.
  • Dress warmly, in layers.
  • Tell people where you’re going and never go out on the ice without a buddy.
  • Refrain from driving on ice whenever possible. If you do need to drive on the ice, keep your windows partially open to avoid becoming trapped if your car breaks through.

What should you do if someone falls through the ice? First, call 911. If you can safely reach the victim from shore, use an object such as a rope or jumper cables, then have the person roll or wiggle to shore.

For more information, visit Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ website at dnr.wi.gov.
Author: Liz Kracht, RN, BSN

Liz is the Pediatric Trauma and Injury Prevention Coordinator at Ministry Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Marshfield.

Disclaimer: The information found on Affinity's blog is a general educational aid. Do not rely on this information or treat it as a substitute for personal medical or health care advice, or for diagnosis or treatment. Always consult your physician or other qualified health care provider as soon as possible about any medical or health-related question and do not wait for a response from our experts before such consultation. If you have a medical emergency, seek medical attention immediately.

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