When I began my holistic nutrition program over 10 years ago, our professor told the class that at least 50 percent of what we were about to learn would either be debated or refuted.
Remember when butter was bad for you and margarine was the healthier option? Or that eggs were the culprit behind heart clogging (LDL) cholesterol? These are just a couple of examples where lobbyists and marketing have heavily influenced the general public into believing them as truth.
We have been consuming animal products high in saturated fats for centuries but it wasn’t until companies began commercially refining oils that we started seeing an increase in heart disease. At the same time, the whole fat-phobic fad became over-hyped and people avoided fats all together, eating more refined carbohydrates and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), which are heated and become extremely refined vegetable oils.
Those same fats, such as canola, corn and soybean oils can create inflammation in our bodies as they become oxidized from heat due to over-processing. These cheaper oils are also bleached and deodorized when subjected to intense heat.
But isn’t canola oil promoted as a healthy option, you ask? It does contain some omega-3s, but is also high in omega-6 fats, which most people already consume in over-abundance. An imbalance of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids harms gut health and can contribute to other health issues such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBS), chronic stress, arthritis and liver malfunction (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
OK, now for some good news. There are several oils that are nutritious and offer health benefits instead of drawbacks.
Not surprisingly, extra-virgin olive oil remains at the top of the list. It’s high in anti-oxidants, which actually fight inflammation and help protect your blood cholesterol from oxidation, a leading cause of heart disease.
Coconut oil still garners a fair (or unfair) amount of criticism, mostly because it is a saturated fat. But it is a plant-saturated fat, which our bodies process as energy, not stored as fat, like those from animals.
According to a study by the British Medical Journal in 2017, coconut oil helps raise HDL (‘happy’ cholesterol) while also reducing C-reactive protein, another marker for heart conditions.
Avocado oil has many health properties. Like olive oil, it is largely a monounsaturated fat, which can help reduce specific inflammation such as arthritis and psoriasis. And similar to coconut oil, avocado oil also has a high smoke point, which means you can cook with it. Olive oil is too fragile and should be used only in salads or for finishing touches.
Next up, another type of oil for health: cannabinoid (CBD.) Have you used it? In food? I’d love to hear your comments or questions.
Asparagus with Avocado
Spring has sprung and so has asparagus! Creamy and buttery, the avocado dip is the perfect refreshing complement to the sautéed asparagus spears. This recipe is vegetarian and gluten free.
1 bunch organic asparagus, trimmed
1 Tbsp. avocado oil
1/2 cup organic plain whole milk yogurt
1 large avocado
2 lemons, juice and zest
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients except asparagus into a smooth dip. Season according to taste (I like mine lemony.)
Sauté asparagus spears in oil until cooked ‘al dente’ with a nice crunch. Serve at room temperature with avocado dip and a few extra lemon wedges.