QUICK GUIDE ON HEALTHY FATS AND HOW TO USE THEM

FROM THE FIELDS- ISSUE #41

Butter and margarine have been controversial for years. There is continuing debate about why polyunsaturates, which are essential, also cause cancer. There is talk of ‘bad’ fats and ‘good’ fats like fish oils. There are stories of fried fats and the scary topic of cholesterol. These stories have generated more weight then there needs to be. We wanted to scale it down …

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ALL FOOD sources that we think of as “fats”—we’re talking butter, shortening, oils—are made up of fatty acids. These fatty acids have specific chemical shapes that affect both how the fat performs in cooking (or baking) and how the fat affects your health. The “3” in Omega-3 refers to the major types of fatty acids that are ingested in foods and used by our body: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Once eaten, the human body converts ALA to EPA and DHA that are more readily used by the body. Omega-3 is an important component of almost all cell membranes. We need sufficient amounts of these fatty acids to be balanced to maintain good health. Refined ‘empty calorie’ foods are more likely to cause us to gain weight (fat) as they cause us to over eat. One of the mechanisms that turns off hunger are things that give us the feeling of fullness- the good fat. When we obtain adequate amounts of all essential nutrients, biological hunger ceases. If our foods are fat-deficient, we may over eat until we get them, which is one reason why we need to eat fats to stay slim- yes, fats can make you slim. Here is quick guide on some of our favourite healthy fats and how to use them.

COCONUT: You’ve heard us talk about coconut before as it’s amazingly versatile in the kitchen- and in the beauty department. What can we say? It’s one of our favourite ingredients! Coconut oil also has powerful health benefits, especially its richness in a fatty acid called Lauric Acid, which can improve cholesterol and help kill bacteria and other pathogens while still tasting creamy and delicious.

Best for: Medium Heat (350 TO 280°F): sauté, stir-fry, wok, bake or a teaspoon in smoothies or even in a cup of dandy blend. 

OLIVE: Mostly well known for its heart healthy effects and is believed to be a key reason for the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet. Some studies show that olive oil can improve biomarkers of health. It can raise HDL (the good) cholesterol and lower the amount of oxidized LDL (the naughty) cholesterol circulating in your bloodstream.  If you are in Toronto and you want the highest quality goods, check-out the Olive Oil Emporium

Best for: Medium/High heat (425 TO 350°F): baking, searing or sauté. It’s also really good for dressing when it’s cold-pressed.

CAMELINA: This ‘Canadian’ oil should be a staple in every kitchen with its light, subtle flavour and gentle nuttiness. Originating in Europe but now grown in Saskatoon, Camelina has a favourable balanced fatty acid profile making it versatile for lots of different recipes. Studies have shown that not only are Omegas good for the body but the balance in which they are absorbed is just as important. Camelina oil is unique in that it provides the necessary daily intake of Omega-3 fatty acids that our body requires while at the same time has the ability to function as a culinary oil.  Three Farmers is a great Canadian supplier.  Check them out here

Best For: Low to High Heat (225 TO 475°F): dressing to dips all the way to the pan. 

AVOCADO: The composition of avocado oil is similar to olive oil. It is primarily monounsaturated, with some saturated and polyunsaturated mixed in. It can be used for many of the same purposes as olive oil but has a mild, smoother and creamy flavour.

Best for: Low to High Heat (225 TO 500°F): dressings and sauces to stir fry and broiling.

BRAZIL NUTS & WALNUTS: These nuts are full of antioxidants and rich in fatty acids to help protect our bodies from cellular damage and fill our bodies with nutrients. Walnuts are mainly the inflammation fighters and brazil nuts are potent cancer protectors. Walnuts, stand out as the only nut with an appreciable amount of alpha-linolenic acid, the type of omega-3 fat you’ll find in a plant-based food, which helps support your body metabolism and brain function. Just one brazil nut packs more than 100 percent of the daily value for the mineral selenium, which may help prevent certain cancers, including bone, prostate, and breast cancer. Here’s a quick tip from Samantha Gladish, Holistic Wellness, on brazil nuts and an easy mylk recipe you need to try.

Best for: If in oil form, NO heat. In whole form, organic: nut mylk, toss in a salad or top off a smoothie bowl.

MCT: Medium Chain Triglycerides are partially man-made fats from coconut and palm oil. MCTs have an unusual chemical structure that allows the body to digest the fats easily, turning them into fuel rather than stored fat. That is why athletes sometimes use MCTs for nutritional support during training, as well as for decreasing body fat and increasing lean muscle mass. MCTs are processed very quickly and are believed to stimulate fat burning, metabolism and energy production. This oil has become quite popular for its addition to Bulletproof coffee, a coffee drinkmade with butter and MCT oil that was developed by health expert Dave Asprey.

Best for: NO direct heat (225°F OR LESS): Dressing, Drinks or finishing only.