Oils and Fats

Oils are made by pressing oil-rich foods until they release their oils. Olives, nuts, sees, and coconut are all pressed for their oils. Those rich in monounsaturated fats can lower LDL levels (“bad”) in your cholesterol.

Everyone needs to eat a moderate amount of healthy fats. Fat helps keep the body insulated and also helps protect vital organs. However, not all fats and oils are equal.

It’s important to try to seek out as many unrefined oils as possible. Heavily refined oils lack much of the original nutritional content due to high temperatures, solvents, deodorizing, and chemical defoamers. The best oils are unrefined, organic, and expeller-pressed. The least processed oils tend to contain the highest levels of polyphenols, which is a powerful antioxidant.

Kinds of fat
Saturated: solid at room temperature. Examples: butter and coconut oil.
Monounsaturated: liquid at room temperature; thickens when chilled. Example: olive oil.
Polyunsaturated: liquid even when chilled. Examples: oils from flaxseeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, canola, and sunflower seeds.

Oils to consider
1. Extra-virgin Olive Oil. This is the oil from the first pressing. Look for oils that have been cold pressed, as this is the least processed. EVOO is best in recipes that don’t involve heat, but if you do cook with it, keep it at a moderately low heat. It is rich in omega-9 fatty acids.
2. Coconut Oil. This oil has been given a bad reputation because it is a saturated fat. However, coconut oil has a lot of health benefits. It contains lauric acid, which aids brain functions and helps boost the immune system. It helps promote weight loss, provides an immediate energy source, gives fewer calories than other fats, and protects against a wide range of infectious diseases.

Oils to avoid
1. Canola Oil. There have been many claims about the benefits of canola oil. It is low in saturated fat and has omega-3 fatty acids; however, these fatty acids have been damaged in the refining process. Canola oil is produced from the rapeseed. The rapeseed is a genetically modified seed from the mustard family. Rapeseed oil (canola) contains significant amounts of erucic acid, a poisonous substance.
2. Corn Oil. This oil tends to be refined. Unrefined versions are typically not organic, thus being produced from genetically modified corn.

Response: How do you feel about oils produced from genetically modified foods?

Resources:
Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson
The World of Oils

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