Saturday, 6 April 2013

The skinny on Fats & Oils................

Sorry we've been a little quiet on the blogging front of lately.  Been throwing myself into a lot of courses and workshops, you never stop learning in this business.  And what I learn I can pass onto you.  Of course you can imagine the main topics of conversation between lots of people, but nutrition always comes up.

One particular subject I wanted to talk about is 'fats and oils'.  This is a subject of hot debate and probably always will be for years to come.  Questions such as; Which fat is best for cooking? Does fat make you fat? Which is best - butter or margarine? How much fish oil should we be eating? What proportion of Omega 3 to Omega 6, what about Omega 9?  And lots more.  This blog wouldn't be big enough to answer all of them questions here and now, but I was prompted that evening to look through my kitchen cupboards specifically at my fats and oils. 

Note if you think that's grease in between the tiles it's not, those tiles use to be bright yellow!
From the left we have Olive Oil, Rice Bran Oil, Omega High Five Cooking Oil and Coconut Oil.  Not pictured is normal butter which I also use for cooking and the odd occasional baking session. 

These four are my essential kitchen cupboard staples and have been for a long time.  When I find ones that suit me and my family I tend to stick with them.  Lets have a look at them a little more closely.  Firstly Olive Oil, now Olive Oil is very much associated with the Mediterranean way of eating, and people who live in the med tend to live longer and have a lower coincidence of conditions such as high blood pressure, heart attack, diabetes, some cancers and arthritis.  So there's five reasons already to make olive oil part of your nutritional regime. 
There are different kinds of olive oil, some pure, some may be a refined mix of several olive varieties.  Best flavours come from minimally pressed oils such as virgin or extra virgin oils.  It is very high in fat, but most of that comes from healthy monounsaturated fats.  I tend to use Olive Oil more for dressing salads in favour of my other oils, due it possibly going rancid with high cooking temperatures, but if you buy a high quality 'extra virgin' olive oil I believe this has a much higher smoke point of 210C / 410F which should cover most cooking methods. 
Next Rice Bran Oil which is high in both healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.  It has a high smoking point of 254C / 490F which again makes it suitable for all types of cooking methods.  Just recently its been hailed as a 'miracle fat burning fat' probably due to one particular antioxidant 'Oryzanol' found in it.  Came across this interesting video clip from Dr Oz on Rice Bran Oil, click on the link and he'll tell you a little more about it
Lastly, The Groovy Food Company make my Coconut Oil and Omega High Five Cooking Oil.  Again love both these products, I always make fabulous roast potatoes with the Coconut oil (and before you ask they've never tasted of coconut, just fluffy and scrummy the way roasties should be!)  As the oil is solid, I scrape a tablespoon into a roasting pan with a twist of sea salt and black pepper, then heat for 30 seconds before chucking the spuds in.  I've also substituted olive oil for coconut oil in many of my soup recipes.  Coconut Oil as we know is very high in fat, but most of it is in the form of MCFA's (medium chained fatty acids) these are not readily stored in the body but are absorbed directly from the intestines and sent to the liver to be metabolised where they are mostly burned as fuel. So eating coconuts could lead to greater fat burn! 
Another plus for Coconut Oil is that it also contains high amounts of another MCFA Lauric Acid, which is converted by the body into monolaurin.  This is a very important compound that fights against fungal and bacterial infections and viruses.  It is said that people who consume coconut regularly experience less sickness, and I'd have to agree with that :) 
The High Five Cooking Oil is a mix of EFA's (Essential Fatty Acids).  These cannot be manufactured by the body so must be ingested from foods.  Again like all the others can be used in most cooking methods as it also has a smoking point of 185C / 365F
I do hope you've found this interesting.  Nutrition and what, how and when we should be eating is a subject that is forever changing.  If we can keep it simple and eat food that has either grown in the soil, flew in the sky, swam in the sea and grazed in a field, and of course drink plenty of water we shouldn't go far wrong.
Till next time, stay well and healthy.

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