Day 6 – Choosing the right oils
As we discussed a few days ago, our body needs certain essential fatty acids to be taken in via diet. The issue is that in general Americans are getting too much of the Omega 6 kind and not enough Omega 3. That said, we need some Omega 6 and oil is a staple for many in food preparation and dressing. Today we will talk about how to choose a high quality, healthy oil and which ones are best in specific applications.
The method by which the oil is extracted from its plant source matters. Oils can be extracted either chemically or mechanically in either high heat or no heat settings. Below is a breakdown of the main methods and what to look for when you are shopping for oils. Organic, GMO free are always the best choice as a rule.
Expeller Pressed – in this processing method the oil is literally squeezed or pressed from the plant with a vice-like mechanical device. Sometimes heat can be generated by this process when extracting from plants with hard shells. Since the pressing only yields 60-70% of the oil, some companies use chemicals as a second step to extract the remaining oil. This is the oldest method of extraction and except in cases where heat or chemicals are used in the second step, it yields a clean, wholesome oil.
Cold Pressed – this method is similar to expeller pressing, only measures are taken to ensure that temperatures do not exceed 120 degrees F. Cold pressed oils are the best choice as they retain the best aroma, flavor and nutritional value.
Chemical Extraction – The chemical process soaks the plant with a toxic solvent, such as hexane, to pull the oil from the source. The producer must then refine the oil to remove the toxin before the oil is fit for cooking. This is the least expensive and least flavorful & nutritious oil.
Which oil to choose? Olive oil is a nutritious and delicious oil and a great choice for daily use. A caution about cooking though, when olive oil is heated to high temperatures, it begins to denature and lose some nutritional value, so use it for dressing foods more than cooking. Good choices for cooking oils include coconut, avocado, sesame and sunflower oils.
Today’s challenge: Continue with the first 5 days of healthy lifestyle changes plus add 2 servings (1 TBSP each) of healthy oil to your daily intake. Olive oil can be drizzled over salads or freshly steamed or roasted vegetables or try sautéing your colorful vegetable medley in coconut or sesame oil. It will taste great, as the oil enhances the flavor and also nutritional absorption of the antioxidants in the vegetables.