Try any of these healthy, versatile fat sources,
and you’ll feel like you struck it rich.
Unless you’ve been conked in the head by an olive branch, you know that “no fat” is out and healthy fats are in. Good fats help to maintain body tissues, they provide an excellent energy source, and they help normalize blood sugar for diabetics and non-diabetics alike. And that’s not to say anything of the well-studied long-term benefits they provide for your heart and circulatory system.
But if your oil arsenal is limited to olive oil in salads and on chicken, and vegetable oil for frying, you’re missing out. Other seed and fruit oils can add a range of savory flavors and textures to your menu, helping you make the most of your meager cooking abilities without having to cheat your health.
Whatever your cooking demands, there’s an oil for that. Let’s meet the rising stars which should be in your recipes.
1. Sesame Oil
Sesame oil is ideal for frying and sautéing because it can handle high temperatures without breaking down. It also imparts a wonderful flavor that can really make your favorite dishes pop. This tasty oil isn’t just for cooking though. It is also great in salad dressings. Makes me hungry just thinking about it…
In addition to its value in cooking, sesame oil has numerous health benefits as well. It is made up of monounsaturated and poly-unsaturated fats, which means it may lower your LDL cholesterol. It is also very high in antioxidants and vitamin E and is a powerful anti-inflammatory. Studies have shown sesame oil may actually lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels. There is also evidence that it could inhibit cancer cell growth.
Oh, and did I mention it also helps you lose flab? That’s right. In one study, researchers noted “a significant reduction was noted in body weight and body mass index (BMI)” when study participants used sesame oil in place of all other cooking oils and they believed this was due to the poly-unsaturated fatty acids, which increased the “satiety” hormone leptin in the blood.
2. Avocado Oil or Grapeseed Oil
Avocado oil, surprisingly, comes from the actual avocado flesh and not the seed. Like sesame oil, it is great for sautéing and salad dressings. It has an unusually high heat tolerance so you don’t have to worry about it going rancid while you cook. And because it is more than 50 percent monounsaturated fat, it is great for your heart as well.iv It may also protect your cells from cancer-causing free radicals.v
Grapeseeds oil is wonderful drizzled over a salad or veggies and is good for sautéing and baking. In addition, it is a potent antioxidant. It is rich in vitamin E, flavonoids and linoleic acid. Because it is high in poly-unsaturated fats, it may also help to prevent diabetes.
3. Grass-Fed Butter
Okay, this isn’t exactly an oil, but neither was the margarine we talked about in yesterday’s article. Thankfully, if you threw out that nasty margarine, grass-fed butter makes a healthy and tasty alternative.
Butter contains lecithin, which helps your body metabolize cholesterol. It is also rich in antioxidants such as vitamins A and E. Grass-fed butter, in particular, is also a good source of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), the fat-fighting oil which is also known to be heart healthy and inhibit cancer-causing substances and belly fat.vi,vii,viii Really… eating real butter made from the milk of cows that are allowed to roam free on pasture and eat grass can help you lose belly fat.
So what makes grass-fed butter so much better than regular old butter? Well that’s easy. When cows are fed their natural diet, they are healthier. Healthier cows produce healthier milk that’s richer in natural super-nutrients like CLA. Which means healthier milk products like grass-fed butter. So you can feel like you’re indulging, but really you are taking care of your body. It doesn’t get much better than that.
4. Coconut Oil
We’ve discussed coconut oil before. It is a very stable oil that can handle high-heat cooking and it is great for your heart because it can help lower LDL cholesterol. It also contains lauric acid, which converts to monolaurin — a fatty acid that helps you fight off viruses and infections.
Perhaps best of all, coconut oil is also shown to help with weight loss. This makes it a great addition to your collection of cooking oils. It is ideal for baking and offers an amazing, tropical flavor, too.
5. Macadamia Nut Oil
Macadamia nut oil is very high in monounsaturated fatty acids and is also antioxidant rich. It is also a very stable oil that does not easily oxidize when heated, so like the other oils mentioned, it is great to cook with. And if you have ever tasted a macadamia nut, you have to know it is going to impart some wonderful flavor to your meals. That said, the flavor is light enough to not overpower other foods. I use this oil to cook eggs all the time.
This oil has been found to improve cholesterol levels and even contribute to weight loss.xiv It also has an ideal balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. This balance is important to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disease, cancer and inflammatory diseases.xv
See? You have lots of healthy options! Which ones are you going to try first?