What you need to know about oils

By Kate Robitello

One thing you may have noticed in the last decade is that plant-based oil is found in virtually every product we use. Look at the ingredients next time you’re shopping at a grocery store and you’re likely to see one or more of the following plant-based oils: soybean, canola, safflower, sunflower, or corn oil. Not only are 90 percent of these oils genetically modified, but they can be extremely hazardous to a person’s health. Yet, there are oils out there that are much healthier if, of course, consumed in moderation. If you choose to use oils while cooking, consider these alternatives:

Flax oil

The optimal of optimal oils, flax oil is by far the best oil to cook with and even add to salads, smoothies, dressings, and hummus. Flax oil, derived from flaxseeds, contains alpha-linoleic acid (ALA), which is used by the body and converted to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are essential Omega 3 fatty acids commonly promoted in fish oil supplements.

Olive oil

A well-known staple of the Mediterranean diet, olive oil is noted for its ability to increase “good” cholesterol (HDL) and lower “bad” cholesterol (LDL). Extra virgin olive oil has not gone through an intense chemical refining process, therefore maintains not only its full flavor, but its antioxidant content as well. It’s crucial to keep in mind that oxidized olive oil that is exposed to light, heat, and air will cause the oil to become rancid, lose flavor, and have inflammatory effects on the body when consumed. So only cook with it at low heat.

Coconut oil

Arguably the tastiest of all oils, the smell alone of this oil will send your brain to a tropical paradise. Coconut oil is primarily comprised of MCTs (medium chain triglycerides). MCTs differ from LCTs (long chain triglycerides) in that they actually promote fat loss. Yes, it is true, there are fats that promote fat loss, and coconut oil tops the list. Although coconut oil is relatively high in saturated fat, which we are advised to avoid, the MCT composition of the fat itself has been shown to increase satiety and aid in optimal metabolism, which leads to decrease of body fat and an increase in energy.

Avocado oil

The next best thing to an avocado is avocado oil. Avocado oil, when pure, should have a slight tinge of green, due to its chlorophyll content. Since chlorophyll has a molecular structure very similar to hemoglobin, it is noted as good “blood food,” as it aids in the formation of red blood cells. Avocado oil is also high in Vitamin E, an essential nutrient for healthy skin, eyes, and immune function. This oil also aids in absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.
Avocado oil does absolute wonders for people with aging, damaged, or dry skin.

With all of the products out there that are filled with cheap, subsidized, and genetically modified oils, maintaining awareness and reading labels is imperative when purchasing pre-packaged products. The best option is to find do-it-yourself recipes and replace those harmful oils with healthy ones!

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