The tide seems to be slowly shifting away from demonizing fat. While my family doctor admits my cholesterol is “so good it isn’t even on [her] chart,” she still isn’t comfortable with the fact that I cook with lard. Coconut oil and olive oil, however, are much more acceptable fats for food preparation. Fat is not unhealthy; it supplies energy, helps us feel more full, balances blood sugar, promotes cell growth, decreases inflammation throughout the body, and regulates hormones.
Not all fats are equal, though. Trans fats, or “hydrogenated” fats, have been considered contraband at my house for years. In addition to lard, coconut oil and olive oil are staples in my kitchen. The question of which to use for a specific recipe is more complicated than just the ingredient list. There is a bit of a science to cooking (and shopping) that can help you ensure that the recipes you use provide the full nutritional benefit to your family and do not create unintended health consequences.
Why the Smoke Point is So Important
When fats or oils reach a certain temperature, they begin to break down and lose nutritional value and flavor. At this point, called the smoke point, carcinogenic oxygen radicals are also generated. Recipes need to be evaluated by comparing the oils used with the temperature at which they are prepared. (more…)
By now, we all know that omega fatty acids, like those found in salmon, flaxseeds and walnuts are good for you, but do we really know the difference between an omega-3 fatty acid and an omega-6 fatty acid? (more…)
You’ve probably all heard about the health benefits of eating a Mediterranean diet, right? This diet that’s high in nuts, fish, legumes, fruits and vegetables, has been shown to even prevent type II diabetes and lower heart disease risk. According to new research, this popular diet can also help reduce cholesterol levels.
A recent study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that when researchers added monounsaturated fats (MUFAs, for short) to a low-cholesterol diet for patients with mild to moderate elevated cholesterol levels, the participants had an increase in their HDL (good cholesterol) and a decrease in their LDL (bad cholesterol) levels. MUFAs are found in nuts such as peanuts, walnuts, almonds and pistachios. MUFAs are also high in olive oil, canola oil and avocados (holy guacamole!). (more…)
Following a healthy diet isn’t just important for weight loss. It also effects how you feel and your performance while working out. If you’re training for a marathon, or any other long-distance race, it’s important to fuel yourself with the right kinds of nutrients. Those who don’t eat enough while working out heavily risk feeling lightheaded or even fainting. To optimize your running, be sure to eat a balance of healthy carbs, protein, and fats (yes, even fats).
You body needs carbs to be readily available to burn during exercise, and they should make up 45 percent to 65 percent of you daily diet. But beware! We don’t mean white bread and pasta. Most of your carbs should come from fruits, veggies, and dairy products like yogurt. Breads and cereals should be whole grain. Save high fiber foods for after your run, because your body will have a difficult time digesting them while you’re moving.
Well, not being fat. But, eating certain fats is not only good, but necessary for optimal health. You should also realize that you don’t have to totally eliminate so-called “bad” fat, such as saturated and trans fats, from your diet; the key is to minimize. Once you do that, it’s time to recognize the fats that are beneficial to your health.
The good news of certain fats being healthy has been pretty well propagated in recent years. But, many people still don’t know it. Or, if you do know, you may not know which name they go by and where you can find them. Here’s the 4-1-1 on healthy fats:
Monounsaturated fats have an amazing trait: they have the selective power of lowering LDL “bad” cholesterol, while increasing HDL “good” cholesterol. So, where do you get these wonder fats? Nuts like peanuts, walnuts, almonds and pistachios are all good sources of monounsaturated fats. Other sources include avocado, canola oil, and olive oil. Monounsaturated fats have also been found to help with losing weight. (more…)