The following article was written by Heinen’s Chief Dietitian, Melanie Jatsek RD, LD.
Do you agree with the statement that not all food is created equal? Let’s be honest, a fried apple fritter couldn’t be more nutritionally different than a fresh apple, could it?
But what about bottled oils like vegetable, corn and avocado? For some reason we tend to lump fats and oils in the same category; however, this false assumption can be costly.
The truth is, some fats are good for you and have anti-inflammatory properties (think apples), while others fuel inflammation like a match in a gas tank (think apple fritters).
Fx-approved fats and oils are minimally processed and contain more anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats and monounsaturated fats. Why does this matter? Because chronic inflammation is the driver of many unfortunate (and often preventable) diseases like diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers.
When you make small changes in the types of fats you add to your meals and read labels to avoid highly processed seed oils like soybean, corn and cottonseed oils, you can, in effect, cool the flames of inflammation and enjoy better health.
To make it easy for you, we’ve narrowed it down to these 12 Fx-approved fats and oils for all your cooking and baking needs:
1. Avocado Oil: Pressed from the pulp of an avocado, avocado oil contains an abundance of heart-healthy oleic acid, a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid. It’s considered a high-heat oil, making it safe for cooking, baking, roasting and grilling. You could also enjoy it drizzled over salads! Heinen’s avocado oil is a staple in my pantry.
2. Almond Oil: Contains some omega-3 fatty acids and about 70% monounsaturated fats. A great source of vitamin E, almond oil is best used for salad dressing, or at the end of cooking. Want to experiment with this flavorful oil? Look for La Tourangelle almond oil in the Grocery Department of your local Heinen’s!
3. Coconut Oil: This exceptional oil from the dry flesh of coconuts has earned an undeserving bad reputation over the years due to its high saturated fat content. Around 45% of the fat in coconut oil comes from medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), a unique kind of saturated fat rich in antioxidants with anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-viral characteristics. Heinen’s unrefined coconut oil has a hint of coconut flavor and is great for baking and medium-high heat cooking (up to 350°F). Refined coconut oil is more neutral in flavor and ideal for high heat cooking (up to 400°F).
4. Coconut Butter: This high fiber oil comes from pureed coconut meat and is a fantastic plant-based substitute for butter. Its naturally sweet flavor and creamy texture makes it a suitable addition to smoothies. Pick up a jar of coconut butter in the oil aisle today!
5. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (cold-pressed): Extra virgin olive oil is created by the first pressing of olives and has the greatest health benefits overall, with about 73% monounsaturated fats. Choose those in dark colored bottles and store in a cool, dark area. For maximum health benefits, use within three months of purchase. Extra virgin olive oil is ideal for low heat applications, salad dressings or at the end of a cooking process. I’m a big fan of Heinen’s extra virgin olive oil!
6. Flax Seed Oil (cold-pressed): This oil contains 18% monounsaturated fat and 47% omega-3 fatty acids. Choose flax seed oil in opaque bottles and store in your refrigerator. Do not heat flax oil! Use only in cold applications, like smoothies or salad dressing.
7. Grass-Fed Butter: When a cow grazes on grass, it produces milk that is higher in omega-3 fats. The deep yellow color of grass-fed butter is due to the carotene and vitamin A it receives in grass. Compared to grain-fed cows, the milk from grass-fed cows is much higher in CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), a fatty acid with potential health benefits. Kerrygold and Organic Valley are two brands of grass-fed butter found in Heinen’s Dairy Department.
8. Grass-Fed Ghee: Also called clarified butter, ghee is made when butter is melted and simmered until the liquid evaporates, leaving only fat and milk solids. Benefits of grass-fed ghee are like those of grass-fed butter; however, it withstands higher temperatures and can be used in high heat applications. Its nutty flavor is like no other, so pick up a jar of Organic Valley ghee and use it to cook your eggs, drizzle over popcorn or spread on a slice of sprouted toast!
9. Palm Oil (sustainably sourced): Palm oil comes from the fruit of oil palm trees and is a rich source of the antioxidant vitamin E. With roughly 50% saturated and 40% monounsaturated fat, palm oil is ideal for high heat cooking. Replace Crisco with Spectrum Shortening for all your baking needs. Because it bares the “RSPO Certified” stamp, you can be sure the palm oil in Spectrum is sustainably produced without causing harm to the environment or society.
10. Sesame Oil (cold-pressed, unrefined): This oil contains high amounts of vitamin E and lignans (plant compounds with antioxidant properties), making it a more stable fat compared to other vegetable oils. It can be used in low-temperature cooking, sauces, salad dressings or dips. Refined or expeller pressed sesame seed oil works for medium-heat cooking.
11. Expeller-Pressed High Oleic Sunflower/Safflower Oil: Consisting of more than 80% oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat, these oils are very similar to extra virgin olive oil. Products made with these oils are better for you than those using regular sunflower and safflower oils, which are highly processed.
12. Walnut Oil: Walnut oil contains 23% monounsaturated fat and 10% omega-3 fatty acids. It is highly perishable, so be sure to store in a cool, dark place and do not use for cooking. It’s best for salad dressings or cold dishes.
It’s perfectly acceptable to add small amounts of these healthier fats and oils to your meals. Just remember, too much of any one thing isn’t good for you, so be mindful and practice moderation. A splash of extra virgin olive oil on your salad, a teaspoon of coconut oil to cook your omelet or a drizzle of avocado oil for roasting veggies are three good examples!