It's shocking to us how many people we speak to that are still scared of dietary fat. You can thank the low fat craze of the 80s and 90s for that one! We're here to set the record straight - you need certain fats for optimal health.
Every single cell in the human body is surrounded by a lipid layer that helps maintain its function. Everything from healthy skin, hair and nails, to reduced inflammation, brain health, balanced hormones and reduced sugar cravings can be attributed in part, to our friend dietary fat. Plus, certain nutrients like vitamins A, D, E and K are fat-soluble meaning they’re only absorbed into the body through fat.
Good quality fat can be found in many different foods including nuts, seeds, avocado, fish, eggs, coconut and more. In today’s post we're breaking down one specific source of dietary fat that tends to confuse a lot of people: oils. There are so many different oils on the market and they all contain unique properties and nutrient profiles. Some are best used at room temperature, some are fine to cook at higher temperatures and some are good any way you like them. Let’s dive in to three oils we love to enjoy cold or for cooking!
Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) should be your first choice when it comes to olive oil grades because it's the least processed, and therefore maintains the most nutrients and flavour (source). It contains some of the essential fatty acids, omega-3 and omega-6, as well as about 73% oleic acid (omega-9), which studies suggest can reduce inflammation. (source). It's also packed with antioxidants and the fat soluble vitamins E and K (source). Talk about a nutritional powerhouse!
For the highest quality olive oil look for Certified Organic and cold-pressed but you could always have a less expensive or bulk option that you save for more regular use. EVOO has a smoke point of about 375 degrees Fahrenheit so it's fine for most cooking temperatures and does have some antioxidant protection, but for the highest nutrient punch, use it in salad dressings, pesto or as a drizzle over cooked veggies, where it's just minimally heated.
Here are some great options for adding more extra-virgin olive oil into you diet: 3 Salad Dressing Recipes to Make you Love Salads Again.
Avocado oil is the jack of all trades when it comes to oil. It is mainly made up of heart healthy monounsaturated fats but unlike extra-virgin olive oil, you can heat avocado oil to up to 500 F, so it’s a great choice to use when roasting veggies, salmon, baking or grilling. It also has a much lighter flavour than extra-virgin olive oil so it’s a great option for making homemade mayonnaise, or salad dressings.
Avocado oil also contains lutein, an antioxidant that helps support eye health (source). Preliminary studies have also shown that both avocado oil and olive oil can help reduce LDL or "bad" cholesterol while maintaining HDL, or "good" cholesterol (source).
If you’re wanting a one-stop shop for an oil that’s great cold or hot, avocado oil is your winner. It does come at a higher price point so we generally like to save it for high temperature cooking.
Try making a batch of homemade mayonnaise with avocado oil!
Unlike avocado oil and olive oil, ghee is solid at room temperature so it's technically not an oil. However, it's a kitchen staple that's very versatile, so we decided to include it anyway. Ghee is made from butter and can be used as a butter replacement for those who are sensitive to dairy. This is because the ghee making process separates the milk fat from the milk proteins (casein and whey) and leaves you with a rich, nutrient dense, golden fat.
You can buy ghee at most grocery stores but it's also super simple to make at home. If you opt for the latter we recommend using an organic, grass-fed butter for the most nutritional benefits. Grain-fed cows produce milk that is higher in omega-6, which may drive up inflammation when consumed in large amounts, and grass-fed cows produce milk that is higher in the anti-inflammatory fat, omega-3. Like avocado oil, ghee can be heated at higher temperatures, so it's acceptable to use for roasting, grilling and cooking at higher temperatures.
If you’re interested in giving ghee making a go, check out this video.
One final reminder when buying any liquid oil is to make sure you look for oil that comes in a dark glass bottle. When these delicate oils are exposed to light and oxygen they oxidize and turn rancid more quickly, which can degrade to form harmful chemicals. This is especially the case with polyunsaturated vegetable oils like soybean, canola and sunflower oil and part of the reason why we recommend swapping those out in cooking for one of the three listed today. While we use other oils on occasion (like flax and coconut), these are our three go-to oils for everyday use.
Let us know in the comments below what your favourite go-to oil is and how you use it most in your kitchen.
P.S. If you'd like more recipes that feature these healthy oils, stay tuned for more information on our internal Holistic Nutritionist, Amanda Miller's upcoming Whole30 Group Coaching Program starting on Monday, April 4th, 2022.