Healthy fatsShunned upon by many, fats are an essential part of one’s diet but it is crucial to understand which are good and which are bad.  If you are like many people and are confused by the mixed messages you are receiving about fats, follow this easy guide to choosing the best ones.

The best fats originate from plants because they:

  • Do NOT contain cholesterol
  • Contain very little saturated fats (with the exception for coconut and palm)
  • Are RICH in mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fats (the good fats)

5 Rules for Choosing Good Oil:

  • Choose Cold Pressed or Extra Virgin.
  • Choose oils that are bottled in a glass container
  • The bottle should be dark or once bought, kept in a dark place
  • Make sure it’s GMO-free: Steer clear of canola, corn and soy which are commonly genetically modified (although not indicated on the bottle)
  • Choose organic, preferably

What does Extra-Virgin mean?

It’s a synonym of ‘cold pressed’ meaning that the oil was extracted using pressure on the grain, seed, nut etc… and no heat was generated in the process.   Heat causes a reduction in the nutritional quality of the oil.  Extra-virgin also means that it has not been extracted using a chemical solvent, deodorized or altered in any way other than being filtered.

Cooking with Oil:

When you are heating oil it is important you do not heat it past its smoking point (the heat limit when oil starts to smoke in your pan).  Oil cooked past its smoking point contains toxic and cancerous substances.  Here are some suggestions about which oils to choose:

Stir fry:

  • Olive oil
  • Peanut oil
  • Sesame oil

Baking:

  • Olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Sesame oil

It is easy to replace butter in your recipes with oil.   Use the following table for quantity conversions:

Butter/Margarine Olive Oil
1 teaspoon = 3/4 teaspoon
1 tablespoon = 2 1/4 teaspoons
2 tablespoons = 1 1/2 tablespoons
1/4 cup = 3 tablespoons
1/3 cup = 1/4 cup
1/2 cup = 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons
2/3 cup = 1/2 cup
3/4 cup = 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon
1 cup = 3/4 cup

The Truth about Corn and Canola Oil

Corn oil: Often used for its high content of polyunsaturated fats and vitamin E and low content of
saturated fats.  On paper this oil looks great. The problem lies in the extraction method using chemical solvents and heat, which robs it of its nutritional value.

Canola oil: Is a hybrid (mutant) grain, very rarely non-GMO and because of its naturally bitter taste
that few people tolerate, this oil is almost always refined.

Watch out for ready-made, processed foods as they usually contain a lot of low quality oils.

Remember that like carbohydrates and proteins, fats are an essential part of the diet and it is recommended that they consist of 15 to 30% of ones caloric intake.  The Mediterranean diet,
one of the healthiest diets, is know for its high fat content (35% of caloric intake), though it is combined with a very low meat consumption and very high anti-oxidant consumption (in fruits and vegetables).  If you are looking to get your good fats from whole foods choose avocados, nuts, and seeds.

For healthy fat cooking ideas check back for next weeks recipe.

References:

  • Pitchford, P.  Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition. Berkeley, California: 2002
  • Rodet, J-C.  Les huiles et les matières grasses, dans l’alimentation humaine. 17ième édition.
  • http://www.goodcooking.com/conversions/butt_oil.htm

 

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