Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Fat to Chew On

It is an on-going learning process in my journey of healthy eating, as I am always
picking up information from publications, new studies and research on nutrition. What we know as consumers about good/bad foods and products in general usually comes from media and advertising, which can sometimes be misleading.

We have all heard that saturated fat is "bad" and unsaturated fat is "good" as far as raising cholesterol and risk of heart disease. For years I have read everywhere that Canola oil is the best mono/poly-unsaturated fat to use for cooking, with Olive oil a close second. And that coconut and palm oil were big No-Nos.

However, I have recently come across some articles promoting Coconut oil as the healthiest fat and did some research. It seems that ORGANIC, UNREFINED coconut oil actually PROMOTES heart health and helps LOWER cholesterol, helps with weight loss, helps prevent osteoporosis, fights disease, supports immune system,and raises metabolism by burning more fat and providing more energy!! WHAT???!!!!

It seems that the good coconut oil got caught up in the bad press on the refined,
hydrogenated coconut oil, which like all hydrogenated oils, raise cholesterol whether they are saturated or not. Organic, unrefined coconut oil, although high in saturated fat, is made up of fatty acids that are healthy and have not been altered by the oil refining process like trans fats. Coconut oil is the most concentrated natural source of those medium chain fatty acids (MCFA) that are easily absorbed, burned and used as energy for metabolism as they are sent straight to the liver and converted into energy, just like carbohydrates.

For cooking, coconut oil is highly heat resistant and more stable than all other
vegetable and olive oils. Since it is solid at room temperature and liquid at body temperature, it is shelf stable for months, even years. It is not available in grocery stores but can be found at Earth Fare and other health food stores.

Here is the run-down on healthiest fats & oils:
BEST: Organic unrefined coconut oil, Organic extra virgin olive oil
BETTER: Butter from grass-fed cows, Unrefined coconut oil, Extra virgin olive oil
GOOD: Organic butter, Refined coconut oil, Olive oil
AVOID: Canola oil, Margarine, Soybean oil, Vegetable oils (excluding coconut oil,
palm oil, cocoa butter, olive oil,flaxseed oil), Shortening

I found some Coconut oil at the Health Store on Independence Blvd at Idlewild (formerly Home Economist) and am starting to take the recommended daily dose of 3 tablespoons. It is so easy to add it to protein smoothies. Adding coconut oil to my diet is such a simple way to get leaner and healthier - yahoo!!

If only Almond Joys were so healthy!!

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