Thursday, January 15, 2009

Oils: Healthy choices!

Oils, Oils, Oils... 

They sure have a hard time being popular! Fattening, greasy, artery clogging....
The truth of the matter is, incorporating oils - the right oils - into your diet can help reduce cholesterol and blood pressure, can prevent cancer and even help assist in the assimilation of other nutrients in the body.
Although organic varieties don't add nutrition, per se, they do cut down on toxic chemicals and pesticides.
Here are a few of the top players:

Walnut Oil: 
Delicately roasted flavour to the oil but slightly more costly. Because it has a relatively short shelf life, keep it refrigerated to avoid it going rancid.
Walnuts contain omega 3's, magnesium, potassium and Vitamin E. 
Serve it cold or barely warmed.

Olive Oil: 
Yum! Extracted from the olive tree's fruit. Slight grassy flavour. Opt for virgin and extra virgin varieties which are mechanically extracted without chemicals or heat.
High in monounsaturated fats and antioxidant rich plant compounds. Lowers LDL cholesterol.
This oil works best in no-heat cooking. Remember, with any oil, if it smokes, the heat is too high!

Canola Oil:
Neutral taste and fairly heat tolerant.
High in unsaturated fat, canola oil also contains a fairly low saturated fat content.
This oil works best to cook with as well as in baking. 

Flaxseed Oil:
Rich, nutty tasting oil extracted from the flax plant.
Store in refrigerator to preserve flavour. 
Like walnut oil, flaxseed oil is a great source of ALA (Great for vegans or anyone who doesn't eat enough fish)
Flaxseed oil doesn't hold up to heat. Use it in pesto dishes or as a salad dressing!

Grape Seed Oil:
A byproduct of winemaking. Clean flavour. 
Grape-seed oil is high in Vitamin E and flavonoids, antioxidants that may help reduce the risk of stroke and coronary artery disease.
Look for organic varieties as some manufacturers often use harsh chemicals to extract it. 
It's ideal for sauteing because of its resistance to high heat.

Remember - since most oils are sensitive to heat and light - either refrigerate or store them in a cool dark place. 

Enjoy eating! 
In good health, 
Stacey Welton, ND

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