Healthy Oils Ridgeland MS
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Time to Change Your Oil
By Kimberly Lord Stewart
Rap your healthy culinary mind around words like “monounsaturated fatty acids” (MUFAs), “polyunsaturated fatty acids” (PUFAs) and “essential fatty acids” (EFAs). Without good fats like these our blood pressure and heart rates go awry, our blood won’t clot and our nervous system aimlessly misfires. Fats also keep our hair and nails healthy; protect our organs; and move the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K from our food into our cells.
Eating the right fats also lowers the risk of heart disease and asthma, as well as breast and prostate cancers. “When I talk with my patients, the first thing I tell them is to get rid of margarine and trans (hydrogenated) fats in their diet and replace them with extra-virgin olive oil,” says Richard M. Delany, MD, a cardiologist and preventive medicine specialist at Milton Hospital in Massachusetts. “It’s the actual replacement of bad fats for good fats that makes the difference.” Delany then suggests adding foods that include other beneficial fats to patients’ diets, such as omega-3 fats found in walnuts, flaxseed and fish.
Unfortunately, an oil label won’t divulge much beyond the general categories of mono, poly and saturated fats—which makes the labels unhelpful because these fats require fine print to convey their nuances. For example, the two primary types of polyunsaturated fats are omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Both are essential, meaning the human body can’t produce them by itself, and both are critical for good health, but you need the proper ratio of them to reap their benefits. Omega-3 is found in oils from cold-water, fatty fish and plants such as canola, flax, walnut and hemp; while omega-6 comes mostly from corn, canola, safflower and sunflower oils. Most of us get way too many omega-6s from processed foods. The balance of omega-3 and omega-6 should be about a 1-to-3 ratio, but it’s estimated we get at least six times that amount of omega-6 per day. This imbalance may contribute to rises in heart disease, arthritis, hypertension and breast cancer rates.
You can obtain the various omega fatty acids, as well as the MUFAs, from your diet in a variety of ways, depending on what type of cooking you’re doing. Which brings us to the two types of fats from a culinary perspective: cooking (for baking, sautéing, etc.) and finishing (a final addition to food when it’s ready for eating).
Cooking oils—such as olive, seed and vegetable oils, along with tropical and refined nut oils—are the workhorses of fats for tasks such as greasing pans, baking or sautéing. The choices are vast and somewhat confusing, with terms such as refined, expeller–pressed and cold-pressed, which refer to the methods used to extract the oil. Refined oils are processed with chemical solvents that degum, refine, bleach and deodorize. The end result is a shelf-stable oil, but with the taste, antioxidants, vitamins and other health-giving properties sacrificed in the process. Expeller-pre...
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