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The benefits of healthy oils


benefits of healthy oils

Have you ever thought about the many benefits of healthy oils in your diet? Fat has been vilified since the 1960s as being unhealthy, that instead low-fat diets would result weight loss and good health. We see how well that has worked out as the average American gets fatter and increasingly less-healthy despite being on a low-fat diet. An increase in processed foods over the last few decades hasn't helped either due to the trans fats in processed foods. They increase inflammation in the human body, increase the risk of heart disease, and increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes. There is no safe level of trans fats for human consumption.

Fortunately, modern medicine is finally coming around to the idea that natural fats can be a good dietary addition in moderation. They can not only help you loose weight by causing you to feel full with less food, but the trace nutrients are additional highly beneficial to the human body. Fat is the building block for cell walls, cell membranes, and nerve sheaths. It is necessary to muscle movement, blood clotting, and joint health.

What healthy oils can do for you

Oil is not just for deep frying. It can not only be used in cooking, but for skin, hair, and even taken internally as a beneficial supplement. Choose the proper oil for your needs to gain its health benefits.

Olive oil

Olive oil, particularly Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO), is just the thing for a healthy heart. When consumed regularly, EVOO's high levels of monounsaturated fats reduce the incidence of heart disease. It is high in antioxidants, which improves memory function and acts as an anti-inflammatory. It is not recommended to use olive oil for cooking due to its low smoke point, but it is a wonderful addition to fresh, crisp salads and cold "dipping foods" such as hummus.

Note: If your olive oil lacks flavour, check the label. EVOO is not the same as "pure olive oil". Extra-Virgin has not undergone the extensive processing which removes flavour and neutralizes acid content, both of which are essential in a "good" olive oil. The less processed, the better.

Coconut oil

Coconut oil has a high smoke point which is ideal for cooking including frying. It consists of medium-chain triglycerides, easy to digest quickly to be used as energy by the body rather than stored as fat. Coconut oil is also useful in enhancing the immune system to better ward off disease. It is high in lauric acid, which is antiviral, anti fungal, and antibacterial. Ingesting it regularly helps reduce inflammation. Since it is a solid fat below 70 degrees, it is shelf-stable and can keep for a long time without spoilage if kept away from heat, light, and air. This makes it useful as a moisture barrier for the skin that is best used in skin creams, lip balm, and as a leave-in conditioner for the hair.

Almond oil

Almond oil contains rich monounsaturated fats, folic acid, magnesium, vitamins A, D, and E, and Omega-3 fatty acids. It is all-around one of the most useful oils to have on hand. It is highly beneficial to skin and hair when applied topically, healing the damage done by everyday living. Include it in your diet to reduce inflammation and improve blood circulation. It makes a flavourful addition to salads and baked goods.

Avocado oil

Avocado oil is packed with monounsaturated fats and Vitamin E. This is great for keeping cholesterol at manageable levels and boosting immunity. It is also high in lutein to improve eye health, sterolin for healing skin damage, and potassium which is key for healthy skin and hair.

Fish oil

Fish oil is high in Omega-3s, which consist of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). These powerful antioxidants can improve brain function and reduce inflammation including joint pain. While ALA can be absorbed from plant foods, DHA and EPA primarily occur in seafood sources such as sardines and salmon. What with the high mercury content in many seafoods these days, it may be best to supplement for these Omega-3s if you cannot find a safe fish source. Fish oil supplements contain both DHA and EPA, while cod liver oil supplements may be somewhat lower in Omega-3s but are high in both Vitamin A and D.

Note: Any unsaturated oil will oxidize and go rancid under the right conditions. What causes oxidation? Light, heat, and air. Highly processed oils will go rancid more readily than oils which have been minimally processed. Always store your oils properly.

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