After much debate throughout the decades, we now know that healthy fats are an essential and beneficial part of a nourishing diet. Indeed studies show that when we include healthy fats in our diet, we not only enjoy the benefits of the nutrients in the fats, we also enhance our absorption of nutrients elsewhere in the meal. One study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that adding avocado oil resulted in a multiple-fold increase of the absorption of nutrients from a salad. Not only are healthy fats nutritious on their own, but they also help make other nutrients more bioavailable and easy to absorb.
Another reason why I love adding healthy fats to my family’s diet is because they are so good at helping reduce symptoms of inflammation, which can lead to a variety of diseases namely inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s and Colitis; skin disorders, such as arthritis, and more. Healthy fats are also an excellent source of energy as they help fuel our bodies and brains.
Coconut oil is one of the healthiest of the cooking oils commonly used today. It is easy to digest and contains many medicinal benefits, thanks to its antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. It is made up of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) which, rather than being stored as fat, are used by our bodies as quick fuel. It’s, therefore, a great source of energy. It’s also excellent for high-heat cooking and, because it’s slow to oxidize and go stale, it’s a great kitchen staple.
Ghee or clarified butter is butter that has had the. milk solids almost entirely removed. This process leaves behind only the healthy, buttery fat, and makes ghee an excellent choice for those that have trouble digesting lactose and casein. It has a high-smoke point and can be used for frying, sautéing, and roasting. Ghee can be easily prepared at home or purchased ready-made. If opting for store-bought varieties, always select organic and grass-fed ghee for maximum nutrients.
Avocado oil is an excellent choice for both cold preparations and, due to its high-smoke point, high-heat cooking. It has an assortment of health benefits including promoting heart and skin health. It is also high in lutein, a vital nutrient for good eyesight. When selecting avocado oil, opt for cold pressed to get the most benefits. I like to drizzle a little avocado oil into my smoothies and on salads or use it in marinades when grilling meat. It also works well in baked goods, when roasting vegetables, and in homemade mayonnaise and sauces. It has a mild flavour that lends well to many dishes.
Grapeseed oil is a byproduct of winemaking, produced from the grape seeds left behind after wine is made by pressing the grapes. The health benefits of grapeseed oil are controversial due mainly to how the oil is processed. Most commercially available grapeseed oil is produced using chemical solvents, such as hexane, a known air pollutant and neurotoxin. Also, during processing, grapeseed oil may also be heated to very high temperatures that can oxidize the oil and make it go rancid. For this reason, it’s crucial to purchase grapeseed oil that has been cold pressed or expeller pressed as these processes do not use chemical solvents or high heat during processing.
When cold pressed, grapeseed oil is an excellent source of vitamin E, an important antioxidant that helps protect cells from the damaging free radicals associated with cancer, heart disease, and dementia. It has a neutral flavour and works well with many recipes.
Extra virgin olive oil is an excellent choice for low-heat sautéing, cold salads, and other cold dishes. To ensure the best product, purchase cold-pressed oil that is packaged in a dark, glass bottles as EVOO is heat and light sensitive. Additionally, always read the ingredient label as many companies mix in lower-quality oils and not all products are 100% pure extra virgin olive oil. Store the oil in a cool place.
When cooking with EVOO, heat oil gradually and add a little bit of water when sautéing vegetables – if you are not using high-water content vegetables like zucchinis or peppers. This way there is less chance for the oil to reach its smoke point and oxidize.
Walnut oil has a rich, nutty flavour that is perfect for salad dressings, grilled meat, fish dishes, and drizzled over freshly cooked pasta. It is best used cold or at room temperature as it can become bitter when heated. When purchasing walnut oil, opt for unrefined, cold-pressed oil to ensure maximum health benefits. Walnut oil has a shelf life of six months, which can be extended by storing it in the fridge.
Walnut oil is rich in phytonutrients and is an excellent source of minerals (e.g., magnesium, zinc, iron, and calcium). It’s also packed with B vitamins, and antioxidants namely selenium and vitamin E.
Pumpkin Seed Oil is an excellent choice to add extra nutrients, health benefits, and flavour variety to cold dishes, such as salad and smoothies. Pumpkin seed oil should be cold pressed and raw, as heat destroys many of the health benefits and makes the oil taste bitter. It is essential to store the oil properly to prevent it from going rancid. Always purchase oil in a dark bottle and store in a cool, dark place or the fridge. As pumpkin seed can turn rancid so quickly, it’s a good idea to wipe away any stray drops on the bottle after using so that they don’t contaminate the rest of the oil.
Pumpkin seed oil helps reduce inflammation, promotes mental well-being, fights hair loss in males and has many anti-cancer properties. If the flavour of the oil is too strong for you, it works well combined with another mild-flavoured oil.
Flaxseed oil is an excellent, plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids. Flaxseed oil is used cold in salads, smoothies, and dips. Flaxseed oil promotes weight loss, relieves constipation, reduces eczema, and other inflammatory conditions, as well as boosts heart health and the immune system. Flaxseed oil should be kept in the fridge, consumed raw and cold pressed, and never heated.