Oils are no longer the “bad guys” of nutrition. They provide essential fatty acids (EFAs) – omega-6, omega 9 and omega-3 — and vitamins that your body can’t produce by itself. The good fats in healthy oils are crucial for maintaining healthy cholesterol levels, a robust immune system, and can even treat and prevent depression.
Right now you probably have olive oil in your cupboard. This heart-healthy oil, prized in the Mediterranean, is now a staple in many American kitchens.
But did you know that you need to consume a wide range of healthy oils from across the oil spectrum to give your body all the nutrients it needs?
Different oils have completely different fatty acid profiles, vitamins, uses and flavors. By expanding the selection of oils in your diet, you’ll not only reap the benefits of improvednutrition, but your food will taste more delicious!
Here I will cover some common and some not-so-common oils that you can use to add variety to your cooking and vitality to your body.
Probably the most important point to keep in mind about oils – you should always use organic, unrefined or extra virgin oils. Today that is completely possible.
Recommended Oils for Cooking
To make things simpler to remember we break up our oils into two categories, oils for cooking and oils that should be eaten without using any heat.
The oils that are suitable for cooking should still be used with a fairly low heat. If you heat oil to the point where it smokes (like when oil is heated for frying), the hot oil becomes carcinogenic and could cause cancer.
Coconut Oil – Coconut oil has had a bad reputation for decades, but this beneficial tropical oil is one of the most stable for cooking and is great for sautéing vegetables. It also has an incredibly long shelf life and does not need to be refrigerated. Coconut oil – such as this organic extra-virgin coconut oil — adds delicious flavor and texture to baked goods. Eating a half a teaspoon each morning will give you a burst of energy because it “feeds” the thyroid and supplies it with vitality. If you want to lose weight and tend to have an underactive thyroid, use coconut oil more generously. You can even rub it into your skin. In India coconut oil is massaged into the scalp at night to help grow and thicken hair.. It’s a great conditioner for hair as well.
Raw Butter and Ghee – These nutritious saturated fats are great for sautéing. Both raw butter and ghee contain the enzyme lipase that helps digest the fat. They also contain butyric acid, which has antimicrobial properties and feeds the good microflora. Both of these fats help promote bone density because fats are essential for absorbing minerals. Your muscle tone will also improve because these fats can contain CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) IF they are obtained from cows that are allowed to graze on green grass.
Red Palm Oil – Palm oil is another misaligned and underused tropical cooking oil. Unlike coconut oil, red palm oil – such as this 100% natural red palm oil — provides beta carotene (vitamin A) and vitamin E. Because of its beautiful red color palm oil adds a pretty tint to other oils when you mix them together. We often combine palm oil with coconut oil and/or ghee. The three together make a delicious and very healthy spread for a flax seed cracker or try melting them on top of your vegetables or grain-like seeds (quinoa, millet, buckwheat and amaranth).
Use palm oil to lightly grease pans when you cook fish, meat or eggs.
Olive Oil – This heart-healthy oil is a favorite in Mediterranean diets because it helps lower bad cholesterol (LDL). It has also been linked to protecting the stomach from ulcers. If you use olive oil for cooking, be sure to keep your cooking temperatures low or you’ll destroy its vitamins and wonderful antioxidants.
Oils as Condiments
Oils pressed from seeds are a great necessary option. Flax seed oil, pumpkin seed oil and pine nut oil can be used in sauces, as toppings for vegetables and in homemade salad dressings. Avoid cooking with them, as they are unstable at high heats, become toxic and their nutritional value is destroyed. As with all oils, store in a cool, dry place (away from the stove!), Flax seed oil should always be refrigerated (or frozen) to extend its shelf life.
Flax Seed Oil – Most individuals are severely deficient in omega 3 fatty acids, and flax seed oil has a significant amount of omega 3 EFAs . Use flax seed oil – such as this 100% organic non-GMO flaxseed oil— in salad dressings and mixed into smoothies or as a dip for veggies and bread. Always buy flax seed oil from a refrigerator case at your health food store.
Pumpkin Seed Oil -This delicious oil adds a nutty flavor when drizzled over salads and veggies or stirred into milk kefir. Rich in the omega 3 fatty acids that can reduce your LDL (bad cholesterol), pumpkin seed oil is a nutty alternative to just using olive oil in dressings.
Pine Nut Oil -Pine nut oil is another flavorful alternative to olive oil and has been linked to appetite suppression. Use pine nut oil just as you would any other condiment.
Oils from the Fish Kingdom
Cod Liver Oil and fish oil are a must!
You can expect these benefits when you eat cod liver and fish oil.
- Helps fight and prevent heart disease, cancer, depression, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, diabetes, ulcers, hyperactivity and many other diseases
- Increases your energy level and ability to concentrate
- Provides greater resistance to common illnesses such as flu and cold
- Helps pregnant women avoid premature births, low birth weight and other complications
Yes, you can obtain omega-3 from flaxseed and walnuts and their oils but the Omega-3 in fish oils contain two fatty acids called DHA and EPA that are essential for fighting inflammation that prevents both physical and mental disease. You must go to the extra effort to make sure your cod liver and fish oils are tested to be free of harmful mercury and other toxins.
In a Nutshell
The oils we use in our system of health and healing are used generously. Even a baby whose brain and bones are developing rapidly needs about 6 Tablespoons per day of fats from different sources. Real fats and oils have real flavor and rich, beautiful colors. Often referred as “medicinal” fats and oils. Why?
- Millions of people have excessive levels of sugar in their blood as a result of or lifestyle and diet. Eating these healthy fats are essential for helping correct this problem. Fats slow down the entry of sugar into the bloodstream.
- Fats are an important source of vitamins – especially A, E and D. They are essential for healthy hormone production and as an important source of energy.
Fats and oils have been unfairly blamed for causing us to become a fat nation while just the opposite is true. A serious concern is that literally generations of individuals have not been eating these medicinal fats for about 7 decades now. And tragically many women of child-bearing age were encouraged to go on a “fat-free” diet during the years they were in their teens and early twenties. Their babies are now paying a high price for this dietary error.
Pregnant and nursing women must take extra care today to make sure they are eating good fats for growth, energy and hormone production. Fats are a very important food for babies, toddlers, pre-teen and teens. In fact, during the infancy and toddler years fats is a child’s most important nutrient. Raw dairy fat (butter and ghee) and egg yolks (also a significant source of fat) and avocados should be soome of your baby’s most important first foods. Over 50% of breast milk is raw fat.