Commentary: Understanding Fats
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There is a lot of information on the 'net about fats that we eat.  It has been interesting researching this topic.  One thing I am convinced of is that we need to understand what is being put in the foods we eat, whether it is from the grocery or a restaurant.  If you find that you are eating out quite a bit you may want to refer to the Guide To Meals on the Run that I found on the 'net and wanted to share with you.

There are so many different fats and oils on the market today that it can be confusing as to what fats we should use and which we should avoid.  At home my family  uses a variety of oils/fats:

  •     Butter- yes, but very sparingly- mostly in baked goods (okay and on the 3 baked potatoes that I eat each year and on corn on the cob when it is in season)

  •      Premium select extra virgin olive oil- deep green- for dipping and some salad dressings (using a light flavored vinegar)

  •     Extra virgin olive oil- green- for salad dressings and marinades

  •     Extra light olive oil- yellow- for sautéing and frying

  •     Peanut oil- for stir-frying

  •     Vegetable (soybean) oil- for baking and cooking

  •     Sesame oil- for stir-frying

  •     Hazelnut/walnut/etc.- unique flavored salad dressings/drizzles

The following list of definitions will help you decide whether an oil/fat should be avoided, substituted or at least reduced in your daily eating:

  •       Saturated Fats - the ‘bad’ fats which are known to raise blood cholesterol levels. Saturated fat is primarily found in high-fat cuts of meat, poultry with the skin, whole and 2 percent dairy products, butter, cheese, and tropical oils: coconut, palm, and palm kernel

  •      Monounsaturated Fats - the ‘good’ fat which can lower blood cholesterol level. . Monounsaturated fat is found in olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, and in most nuts and nut butters.  

  •       Polyunsaturated Fats - ‘in between fat’ which has some good and bad properties.  The best sources of Omega-3s are fatty fish, such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring, and rainbow trout, among others. Canola oil, walnuts, and flaxseed also contain some Omega-3s

  •       Trans Fatty Acid - a man-made fat which is worse for you than saturated fats. These are made when certain oils are heated and are also present in foods which contain hydrogenated oils such as margarine. If you use margarine buy one that is non-hydrogenated. Read food labels and avoid all products which contain hydrogenated oils.

The USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans emphasizes we need to reduce the amount of fat, salt and added sugar we consume and increase our consumption of fiber. When buying food we can check the label, but when using a recipe we may need to make some changes by substituting ingredients or changing the cooking technique. Just like you substitute when you are out of a certain ingredient, you can make changes in a recipe so it is healthier:

  • Shortening, butter, margarine, or solid fat- Use ¼ less liquid oil or solid fat called for in the recipe. If recipe calls for 1 cup use ¾ cup. If recipe uses ¼ cup shortening, use 3 Tablespoons oil. Use equal amounts of oil for melted shortening, margarine or butter.
  • Shortening, butter, or oil in baking- Use applesauce, plain non-fat  yogurt or prune puree for half of the butter, shortening or oil. The baking time may need to reduced by 25%.
  • Fat to sauté or stir-fry- When frying foods use  a natural all-oil cooking spray, water, or broth/juice- if sautéing fruit  (I sparingly use my nonstick skillet due to health issues surrounding the use of tephlon coatings)

 This great olive oil recipe can be used for drizzling over bread, cheese, vegetables, made into a salad dressing or swirled into fresh tomato soup. 

 Basil and Garlic Infused Olive Oil
Yields 1 c 

1 c light olive oil

½ c minced basil (any fresh herb will work: rosemary, tarragon, chives, etc)

1 tsp minced fresh garlic (2 cloves)

Place ingredients in a small sauce pan and turn heat to medium.  When the basil and garlic begins to sizzle, count to ten and turn off heat; let cool.  Strain into jar and store in refrigerator.




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