If you have kept tabs on the health and fitness industry over recent years, it will have become blatantly clear that fats are well and truly in fashion. We’re not talking about cakes, fast food or anything else along such lines – but the healthy fats which can make or break a diet.
If you’ve read any sort of superfood list over recent times you’ll have probably heard all about olives, avocados and flaxseeds to name a few. Most people will immediately head to the store and purchase these in their solid-form – but there is another option.
All of us need cooking oils from time to time; it’s one of the core components of many of our meals. However, choose the wrong cooking oil and that once-healthy meal can suddenly turn to one that’s absolutely ablaze with calories.
This is the reason this guide has been put together. Instead of turning for the standard cooking oils that can douse meals with a huge number of calories, we have today summarized three which are utterly healthy for you. Of course, like with any type of fat a degree of caution has to be taken into account, and we would immediately suggest that you only use these with a spray bottle to make sure you’re not adding too much to your diet.
Extra virgin olive oil
Let’s start with the old classic and in truth, most of you will have probably heard about the wonders of extra virgin olive oil. It’s been doing the rounds for years in the fitness sphere, and rightly so.
One of the reasons it has garnered so much popularity over the years is because it was originally part of the Mediterranean diet, which has been tried-and-tested and found to benefit all sorts of areas of your body ranging from your kidney to your brain.
The reason it is so beneficial is due to the monounsaturated fat level. Studies have found that this is able to reduce the amount of bad cholesterol that can be found in your body (or, for those of you who are scientifically inclined, it can reduce the “LDL cholesterol”). Regardless of the terminology you use, the most important thing to remember is that it can reduce the chances of suffering with heart disease.
If we return to the topic of the brain, the results of one study have really raised a few eyebrows in the fitness industry. The study, which was performed on animals, found that olive oil can protect the brain from incurring symptoms which link with Alzheimer’s disease. Of course, slightly more research is required on humans, but the omens are certainly promising.
So, why should your olive oil have the “extra virgin” factor? This is a foodie-term that relates to the quality. It’s much better than other types, although a word of warning relates to the way in which it burns. In comparison to other types of oil, “extra virgin” can burn more easily which means all of the important nutrients are more at risk as well. Ultimately, when you cook with it, you should make sure that it’s at a low heat to make sure you don’t lose anything that’s important.
In some ways, there won’t be many surprised faces with this next suggestion. Avocados are one of the most popular “superfoods” on the block right now, although the main surprise with them might relate to the fact that this time it’s coming in oil-form (which isn’t as well-known).
The way in which avocado is beneficial is because it allows you to absorb nutrients much more easily. For example, The Journal of Nutrition found that people eating salsa absorbed a lot more of the antioxidants from the tomatoes by consuming it with avocado oil. There’s plenty of scientific reasoning to back this up as well; with the fat in avocados making the absorption process much easier.
Something else that’s interesting, and crucial for some of you, is the way in which you cook avocado. As we spoke about in the previous section, there are some oils which are not susceptible to high heat. Avocado oil is not one of these, with most suggesting that you can cook it as high as 500 degrees and not lose any of the valuable nutrients.
However, rather than cooking with it, the tastiest suggestion is to again drizzle it over your stir-fry or salad, which can promote both delicious and healthy results.
The final member of our list is another which you might have heard of, for all of the reasons we documented in the avocado oil section. Flaxseed is yet another one of the common members of the superfood top lists but again, few of us realize that it can be purchased in oil-form.
For the last few years there has been a lot of talk about omega-3 fatty acids – and the importance of including them in your diet. Usually, it’s salmon and tuna that grab all of the headlines in this regard.
Well, you probably know where this is going. Flaxseed oil is something that also contains them in abundance, containing something which specifically goes by the name of alpha-linolenic acid. This is something that is plant-based, which the human body just isn’t able to make. The beauty about this component is that because it is derived from a plant, studies have already shown that it prompts a 10% lower risk of fatal heart attacks.
There is a slight downside to flaxseed oil though, and this is very similar to what we have already spoken about when it comes to extra virgin olive oil. This is an oil which burns exceptionally easily, to such an extent that most people don’t think you should even cook with it (we’re not quite in that boat just yet). The best advice is to consume it at room temperature, meaning that it’s best for salad dressings or for those of you who like to dabble in a morning smoothie.