Fitness Resources

Month: May 2018

Are You Using the Right Cooking Oils?

Did you know that fats are essential nutrients that are fundamental to how the body functions? In fact, fats are integral to cell structure and also are included in hormones that control muscle contraction, immune function, blood clotting and blood pressure. Additionally, when it comes to healthy eating, there are some vitamins (A, D, E and K) that require fat to be fully absorbed and usable in the body.

The fat in nearly all foods is a mixture of fatty acids—saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. You want to choose fats that are unsaturated more often. Unsaturated fats are oils—they are plant-based and liquid at room temperatures. These types of fats are considered a better nutrition choice because of the positive effects they have on cardiovascular health.

It can be a challenge to know which oils to use when cooking. You want to make healthy choices, but you also want your food to turn out delicious. Here is a brief primer on how to choose the right oils, along with detailed descriptions of the most common oils you’re likely to use.

 The Smoke Point of Cooking Oils

When it comes to choosing an oil, it’s important to know an oil’s smoke point, which is the temperature at which heated the oil begins to produce smoke and burn. When this happens, it causes the healthy components of the oil to degrade into damaging free radicals. Because each type of oil has a different smoke point, certain oils are better for different types of cooking techniques. The higher the cooking temperature (frying, for example), the higher you want the oil’s smoke point to be to prevent it from burning.

Refined Versus Unrefined Cooking Oils

Cooking oils are extracted from plants, nuts and seeds. This extraction can be from the use of pressure (also known as cold-pressing) or processing using mechanical, thermal and/or chemical processes. The refinement of an oil can change both the flavor and the smoke point. The more refined the oil, the higher the smoke point. The less processed the oil is, the more flavorful the oil will be.

 Types of Oils

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO): An unrefined and unaltered oil extracted from olives

  • Nutrition: A very high monounsaturated fat composition. Additionally, EVOO contains hydroxytyrosol, which is a phytonutrient that protects vascular health.
  • Flavor: Intense olive taste, fruitier flavor and low acid
  • Smoke Point: Low (around 325 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Cooking: Use for lower-heat cooking or in baking to substitute for butter. Best in salad dressings or dips where the flavor can take center stage.

Olive Oil: Blend of EVOO (usually around 10%) combined with refined olive oil

  • Nutrition: A high monounsaturated fat composition
  • Flavor: Mild, lighter and less olive-like flavor
  • Smoke Point: Medium (ranging from 400-450 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Cooking: Use it for low- to medium-temperature cooking, such as sautéing and stir-frying.

 Canola Oil: A refined oil extracted from the seed of a yellow flowering plant called a rapeseed

  • Nutrition: A high composition of both mono- and polyunsaturated fats
  • Flavor: Very light; allows the flavors of the food to shine
  • Smoke Point: Medium smoke point (around 425 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Cooking: Works well for medium-temperature cooking such as sautéing and stir-frying.

Nut/Seed Oil (such as walnut or pumpkin): Unrefined oil extracted from nuts/seeds

  • Nutrition: A high composition of polyunsaturated fats. Additionally, both walnut and pumpkin oils have a high linolenic acid content, which converts to omega-3s to support heart health.
  • Flavor: A rich nutty flavor
  • Smoke Point: Very low (around 320 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Cooking: Best when not cooked at all or only at very low cooking temperatures. Instead, use it to add a tasty flavor to salad dressings and marinades.

Peanut Oil: A refined oil made from peanuts

  • Nutrition: A high composition of both mono- and polyunsaturated fats
  • Flavor: A strong peanut flavor and aroma
  • Smoke Point: High (around 450 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Cooking: Ideal for frying foods or making popcorn. Also, great to use when you want to give a slight peanut flavor to food.

Avocado Oil: A refined oil made from the fruit of an avocado

  • Nutrition: A very high composition of monounsaturated fats
  • Flavor: A delicate, buttery and slightly nutty flavor profile
  • Smoke Point: Very high when refined (around 520 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Cooking: Versatile; can be used in both high-heat cooking or as a finishing oil on salads

Coconut Oil: A refined oil made from the meat of a coconut

  • Nutrition: A high saturated-fat ratio
  • Flavor: A slightly sweet coconut flavor
  • Smoke Point: Low to medium (around 350-400 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Cooking: Most commonly used in baked goods, but can lend a delicious coconut flavor to sautéing or stir-frying.

 

 

 

 

 

Learn more about healthy eating with Nutrition for Sports, Exercise and Weight Management.

Post Author

Author

Rebecca Lewis

Contributor

Rebecca Lewis is Registered Dietitian on a mission to change the world by empowering people to take control of their health. Her passions lie in getting people back into the kitchen, reconnecting them with fresh foods, and rebuilding their confidence to have FUN with cooking. She is a champion of nutrients and a world traveler who loves peanut butter. As a fitness enthusiast, she enjoys Crossfit, the aerial arts, running, dancing, and yoga.

21 EASY FOOD SWAPS

When it comes to weight management, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, and decreasing inflammation, making small, incremental dietary changes is the way to go. Trying to make too many changes all at once can be a recipe for disaster—this can cause you to feel overwhelmed and make you want to give up. Instead, try modifying each snack and meal by swapping out one or more ingredients.

BREAKFAST

Breakfast

  1. Instead of a bacon, sausage, and cheese omelet, try a spinach, mushroom, and onion (or your choice of veggies) omelet. You’ll lose the unhealthy saturated fat and sodium and replace it with inflammation-fighting antioxidants and belly-filling fiber.
  2. Instead of a bagel and cream cheese, try a whole grain English muffin with nut butter. Lose the refined carbohydrates and empty calories and fill up on fiber, protein and healthy fats.
  3. Instead of fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt, try plain Greek yogurt and add fresh berries and nuts or seeds. The “fruit” on the bottom is more sugar than fruit. Reduce the sugar content by adding fresh, seasonal fruit and then top with crunchy nuts (walnuts, almonds, etc.) or seeds (chia, ground flax or hemp) for added fiber and healthy fats.
  4. Instead of toasted white bread with butter and jam, try whole grain toast with cottage cheese, cinnamon and banana slices. Replace the empty calories, fat and sugar with fiber, protein and good carbohydrates.

LUNCH

Lunch

  1. Instead of ham and cheese with mayo on white bread, try turkey, avocado and tomato on whole grain bread. Ham, cheese and mayo are full of sodium and unhealthy fats and white bread is just refined, processed carbohydrates. Go for lower sodium turkey for protein, avocado for healthy fats, and tomato and whole grain bread for fiber.
  2. Instead of a hamburger and fries, try a lettuce-wrapped grilled chicken breast sandwich with baked sweet potato. Ditch the high sodium and bad fats for lean protein and a sweet spud.
  3. Instead of egg salad made with mayo, try egg salad made with mustard and mashed avocado. Eggs are a great source of protein, but artery-clogging mayo is no way to go. Mustard adds a lot of tang and avocado is full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.
  4. Instead of a Cobb salad (lettuce, turkey, bacon, blue cheese, avocado and egg with creamy dressing), try a grilled vegetable salad topped with grilled wild salmon and a Dijon-balsamic vinaigrette. A Cobb salad is a saturated fat bomb! Lighten up your salad and supercharge your veggies by grilling them and add the all-important protein to keep you fuller for longer. Replace the creamy, high-calorie dressing with a vinaigrette made with extra virgin olive oil (healthy fat), which can help with digestion and absorption of vitamins.

DINNER

Dinner

  1. Instead of a steak and mashed potatoes, try wild Alaskan salmon and roasted garlic mashed cauliflower. The fat and sodium in steak and mashed potatoes makes your arteries shake with fear. Wild Alaskan salmon is filled with inflammation-fighting omega-3 fats and mashed garlic cauliflower is a delicious (and sneaky) way to consume those cancer-fighting veggies.
  2. Instead of spaghetti with meatballs, try spaghetti squash with turkey meatballs and marinara sauce. Spaghetti squash, which tricks you into thinking you’re eating pasta, is all the rage for people trying to cut carbohydrates or go Paleo, and it’s delicious. Top it with turkey for protein and lycopene-rich marinara sauce for long-lasting energy.
  3. Instead of a loaded burrito (chicken, beans, rice, cheese, sour cream and guacamole), try a burrito bowl, which is a bowl layered with brown rice, black beans, grilled chicken, pico de gallo and avocado. Lose the oversized, 200-calorie, refined, processed tortilla and eliminate the high-fat cheese, but keep the flavor with the pico de gallo (chunky salsa) and add creaminess with avocado.
  4. Instead of steak fajitas in flour tortillas, try shrimp fajitas in corn tortillas. Shrimp is a healthier protein choice than steak and corn tortillas have more nutritional value than empty-calorie flour tortillas. Just stick to two tortillas and fill up on the filling.

SNACK

Snack

  1. Instead of hummus and pita, try hummus and sliced veggies. Ditch the processed carbs from the pita and swap them out with fiber- and antioxidant-filled red peppers, carrots, and cucumbers; and pair the veggies with protein and healthy fats, found in hummus.
  2. Instead of cheese and crackers, try string cheese with an apple. String cheese is made from part-skim mozzarella cheese, which is lower in saturated fat than cheddar cheese. Pair it with a high-fiber apple (or fruit of your choice) to get long-lasting energy.
  3. Instead of a granola bar, try a homemade trail mix with raw nuts (almonds, walnuts and pistachios) and dried fruit (apricots and tart cherries). Granola bars (and most energy bars) are often candy bars in disguise, and filled with unwanted sugar. What you need is protein, healthy carbs, and good-for-you fats, which is what you get in nuts as well as high-energy dried fruit. Use about ¼ cup of each for a perfectly portioned snack.

DESSERTS/SWEETS

  1. Instead of traditional ice cream, try making ice cream in your food processor with frozen bananas and top with a few dark chocolate chips. Freeze ripe (peeled) sliced bananas and then pop them into a food processor for a creamy ice cream swap. Add some heart-healthy dark chocolate for a delicious and nutritious dessert.
  2. Instead of a slice of blueberry pie, try cooking fresh or frozen blueberries with cinnamon and topping them with plain Greek yogurt. Get the sweetness from the fruit and cinnamon (no need to add any sugar) and protein from the yogurt and enjoy a creamy, sweet and satisfying treat.
  3. Instead of chocolate pudding, make chocolate chia pudding by mixing ½ cup almond milk with 2 Tbsp. chia seeds and 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder. Stir and let sit in refrigerator for a few hours until thick. The antioxidants found in cocoa powder are good for your heart and the chia seeds give you protein, fiber, and healthy fat, which will keep you full for hours.

DRINKS

Drinks

  1. Instead of a latte, try a café Americano. There’s no need to drink your calories. Just add a splash of milk and a sprinkle of cinnamon and you should be good to go.
  2. Instead of sweetened iced tea, try iced green tea. Green tea contains the thermogenic antioxidant EGCG, but in order to reap its benefits, don’t load it down with inflammation-promoting sugar.
  3. Instead of soda, try mixing plain seltzer water with some tart cherry juice. If you like the crispness of soda but don’t want the sugar or artificial sweeteners found in diet soda, mix club soda with any dark juice (blueberry, pomegranate, tart cherry or cranberry) for a shot of flavor and a dose of antioxidants.

 

Post Author

Author

U Rock Girl!

Contributor

Tiffani Bachus, R.D.N., and Erin Macdonald, R.D.N., are the co-founders of U Rock Girl!, a website designed to nourish the mind, body and spirit of women of all ages and stages of life. They have just authored the rockin’ breakfast cookbook, No Excuses! 50 Healthy Ways to ROCK Breakfast! available at www.URockGirl.com