Choosing Healthy Oils
Are you getting enough omega-3 fatty acids in your diet? There's mounting evidence that these "good fats" have anti- inflammatory properties that can help protect against disease. Studies suggest that they may reduce the risk of heart disease, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, relieve the symptoms of arthritis, and may even help the symptoms of depression. The only problem is most Americans aren't getting enough omega-3's in their diet. Most processed foods are high in "inflammatory" omega-6 fatty acids which can have adverse effects on health. One way to increase the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet is to use cooking oils with higher omega-3 concentrations. Making the change away from standard cooking oils such as corn oil which is high in omega-6's can make a difference in the health of you and your family. Here are some cooking oils with omega-3's you may want to consider.
Omega-3 fatty acid oils: Flaxseed oil
This isn't an oil you'll [normally] want to cook with since it can alter the taste of cooked foods [note, this was written prior to development of the new Alligga Flaxseed Cooking Oil]; but it's hard to pass up the high omega-3 concentrations in this oil. The best ways to use it are to substitute it where you would normally use butter or add it to room temperature sauces and salad dressings.
Omega-3 fatty acid oils: Walnut oil
Walnuts are a good source of the omega-3 fatty acid known as alpha-linolenic-acid. Walnuts have even been shown to protect the coronary arteries from damage after consuming a high fat meal. Avoid using this oil for high temperature cooking since the antioxidants can be destroyed by heat and high heat can change the flavor of the oil. It's excellent for adding to salad dressings and unheated sauces. One drawback is price. Walnut oil is more expensive than most other cooking oils.
Omega-3 fatty acid oils: Fish oil
If you eat fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, or mackerel twice a week, you'll be getting a healthy dose of omega-3's. The only problem with getting your omega-3's from fish oil is the risk of exposure to mercury and other contaminants. Farm raised salmon has been shown to be high in potentially cancer causing contaminants known as PCB's. Taking fish oil supplements is another option, but be sure you buy them from a well researched, reputable company that tests for contaminants.
The bottom line? When cooking, consider switching over to cooking oils with omega-3s. For salad dressings, use flaxseed and walnut oil along with olive oil. Olive oil is another healthy oil, although not a source of omega-3's. Taking these small steps to protect your health can be a simple way to protect you and your family against chronic disease.
Health Disclaimer. Copyright 2009. Published with permission. Dr. Kristie Leong is a freelance writer and is not affiliated with avivahealth.com.
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