My “Ask Dr. Walt” column in Today’s Christian Living on Acupuncture, Cooking Oils, and Vitamin Water

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My “Ask Dr. Walt” column in Today’s Christian Living on Acupuncture, Cooking Oils, and Vitamin Water

I enjoy being penning a bi-monthly column for the readers of Today’s Christian Living magazine. I forgot to post the September 2023 issue where I addressed Acupuncture, Cooking Oils, and Vitamin Water.

September 2023 Today’s Christian Living

HERE’S THE LINK to the column which you’ll find on pages 28/29, where I discuss:
  • Cooking Oils
    • Question: Which cooking oils are good and which are bad?
  • Acupuncture
    • Question: Does acupuncture have any medical benefit?
  • Vitamin Water
    • Question: Is vitamin-enhanced water healthy?


Cooking Oils and Sprays

Question: Which cooking oils are good and which are bad?

Answer: Certainly, it’s important to know how to choose a healthy oil, but it’s also critical to know whether the oil is healthy to ingest if you’ve heated it while cooking since they have a range of smoke points or temperatures at which they’re no longer stable. Here are the four I usually recommend:

    • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) has a medium smoke point of about 350°F, which is a common cooking temperature for many recipes, particularly baked goods. If cooking with olive oil, limit use to later stages of cooking, keeping heating time to a minimum. EVOO has been the gold standard for cooking oils in kitchens across the globe for centuries and can be used for baking, sautéing, or cold dressings. In addition to a pleasurable taste, it has several potential health benefits that require intakes of about 2 to 4 tablespoons per day. Purchase EVOO in dark-colored glass bottles to protect it from light and store it in a dark cabinet. The color of the oil is not an indicator of quality or flavor. EVOO is generally safe and well-tolerated, but it may interact with some medications. Although the US government has established standards for EVOO, no agency is responsible for routinely testing EVOO products, and there have been reports that some products are “fake” or adulterated with other types of oils.” and HealthLine have recommendations about specific EVOO products.
    • Avocado Oil has a smoke point of approximately 520°F, making it great for high heat cooking like deep frying. It has an avocado-like taste, which makes it perfect for sweet or savory cooking. It also has a nutritional composition like EVOO, providing antioxidants and healthy monounsaturated fats. Good avocado oil is expensive, costing several times the amount of the better EVOOs. It should be stored at room temperature and away from light, preferably in a dark-glass bottle or stainless-steel container. Avocado oil that is unopened should remain stable for at least two years if properly stored. It is not necessary to refrigerate avocado oil, even after it is opened. and HealthLine have recommendations about specific avocado oil products.
    • Sesame Oil also offers numerous benefits and has a medium-high smoke point of 410°F and versatile, nutty flavor. Just remember that toasted sesame oil isn’t the same thing and it’s more suitable for finishing a dish. HealthLine has recommendations about specific sesame oil products.
    • Safflower Oil has a smoke point at about 510°F. It’s low in saturated fat and contains a high percentage of unsaturated fatty acids. It has a neutral flavor and is said to work well for marinades, sauces, and dips, as well as barbecuing and frying on the stovetop. HealthLine has recommendations about specific safflower products.

What about cooking sprays?

HealthLine advises, “When you need to prevent food from sticking to the pan or want a very light layer of oil on your food, there’s a good chance you reach for a can of cooking spray instead.

To get the oil out of the can, chemicals like butane, isobutane, and propane are often used as propellants. While in large amounts, these ingredients can be toxic, regular use of cooking spray has been deemed safe by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Union based on current research.

Nevertheless, if you want to avoid exposure to these propellants, consider nonaerosol products or oil spray bottles that you can fill with your favorite oil.

HealthLine has recommendations about specific products.

Finally, what oils should never be used in high heat cooking?

Here are the HealthLine recommendations:

    • Fish oil or algae oil are omega-3-rich dietary supplements that should be ingested cold and in small doses. Don’t use these products for cooking purposes.
    • Flax oil is high in the heart-healthy unsaturated fatty acids but has a low smoke point at around 217°F and should be reserved for cold uses like salad dressings.
    • Palm oil is healthy but calorie dense. Furthermore, its production has been strongly linked to rainforest destruction and a loss of biodiversity.
    • Walnut oil is high in healthy omega-3s but is also best reserved for cold preparations like salad dressing. It has a low smoke point and goes rancid quickly. So storing it in the refrigerator will help preserve its shelf life.
    • Coconut oil is controversial as there is conflicting evidence on health benefits. The American Heart Association advises against consuming it to reduce your risk of heart disease.

Question: Does acupuncture have any medical benefit?

Answer: Acupuncture is a medical procedure in which specific body areas are stimulated by piercing with fine needles, to which can be applied electric currents or heat. The practice is said to have originated in China over 2,000 years ago as a component of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).

Most states regulate the practice of acupuncture, for which a variety of degrees and certifications are available. The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) works with most states to validate the competency of acupuncture practitioners prior to licensure.

The procedure is likely safe for adults and possibly safe in children and pregnant women when preformed properly with sterile needles. The Natural MedicinesTM experts rate acupuncture as “Possibly Effective” for a wide variety of conditions including

    • back and neck pain,
    • chemotherapy-induced or postoperative nausea and vomiting,
    • fibromyalgia,
    • labor pain,
    • migraine and tension headache, and
    • osteoarthritis.

Most research shows acupuncture is NOT effective for

    • asthma,
    • infertility, or
    • smoking cessation.

However, the list of conditions for which there is “Insufficient Evidence” to rate acupuncture is as long as your arm and includes such issues as:

    • Alzheimer’s or dementia,
    • anxiety or depression,
    • carpal tunnel syndrome,
    • chronic fatigue syndrome,
    • diabetes,
    • hearing loss,
    • irritable bowel syndrome,
    • menopausal hot flashes,
    • menstrual cramps or pain,
    • neuropathy,
    • Parkinson disease,
    • PTSD,
    • sciatica,
    • sleep apnea, or
    • weight loss.
Vitamin Water

Question: Is vitamin-enhanced water healthy?

Answer: Vitamin waters and other electrolyte drinks are increasingly popular among many consumers. The global market for them was $7.2 billion in 2021 and has been predicted to reach $11.9 billion by 2027. Nevertheless, many nutritionists are concerned about the presence of too much sugar in the drinks and recommend keeping several considerations in mind before stocking up on too much vitamin water.

For those not in the know, vitamin water is made up of water mixed with minerals and vitamins such as A, C, and several B vitamins. Popular versions are often infused with electrolytes. They come in a wide variety of flavors and quite often are sweetened with sugar or other natural or artificial sweeteners.

The CDC warns against consuming too many “added sugars” because they are known to contribute to obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and premature death. In a recent interview with USA Today, Walter Willett, MD, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, said, “Most of the commercial vitamin waters contain sugar or other sweeteners that can be harmful.” He pointed to one analysis which found that one of the most popular brands of vitamin water contained “the same amount of fructose as a bottle of (Coca-Cola).” Willett also pointed out that they are “a very expensive way to get vitamins.” He and his colleagues recommend drinking plain water instead.

The bottom line on vitamin waters is that if they are consumed infrequently and sparingly, they aren’t likely to cause harm, but they probably do not provide any health benefit on their own.

Walt Larimore, MD, has been called one of America’s best known family physicians and has been named in the “Guide to America’s Top Family Doctors,” “The Best Doctors in America,” “Who’s Who in Medicine and Healthcare,” and “Who’s Who in America.” He’s a former Vice President and Physician in Residence at Focus on the Family and the American Life League has named him a “Rock-Solid Pro-Life” awardee. He’s also an award-winning medical journalist and the best-selling author of over 40 books. He and his childhood sweetheart and wife of nearly 50 years, Barb, have two adult children and reside in Colorado Springs. You can find Doctor Walt’s health blog at and follow him on Facebook at “”. Have questions for Dr. Walt? Email them to

© Copyright WLL, INC. 2024. This blog provides healthcare tips and advice that you can trust about a wide variety of general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your regular physician. If you are concerned about your health, take what you learn from this blog and meet with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.

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