Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Healthy Fats and Oils, Part Two

The following is the second part of a guest article written by Sarah Kamps.  This article is published in conjunction with April's theme, Spring Clean Your Eating Habits.

We've already pointed out that conventional fats and oils can be harmful to your health, simply by asking some basic questions.  We also listed off some healthier options, such as coconut oil and olive oil.  Let's examine those healthier options more closely by putting them to the same test:
1. Where do these oils come from?  Coconuts and olives.

2. How is the oil made?  Virgin coconut oil is made by quick-drying the fresh coconut meat and then pressing the oil out.  Olive oil is made by crushing and de-pitting the olives and then pressing the oil out.  This is a very simple process, with no added heat, chemicals, etc.  (Keep in mind, I am referring to virgin cold pressed coconut and olive oil.  After this first press, there are several more presses, each time adding heat and chemicals to draw out more oil.  So, the virgin cold pressed oils are considered highest quality, and they are the ones you want to use.)

3. Are these oils really as healthy as they claim?  Yes, most definitely!  Coconut and olive oils are healthy fats!  Yes, that's right, I just said healthy and fat in the same sentence!   This is a very unconventional way of thinking.  We have been trained to think that all fats are bad and have no nutritional value.  Saturated fats have especially been given a bad reputation.  While I would agree that in certain situations, at-risk people may need to avoid saturated fats, I would also suggest that we can benefit from quality healthy moderation, of course!  You can learn more about healthy fats here:

What makes these oils are so great?  Coconut oil is made up of medium chain fatty acids.  These fatty acids do not have a negative impact on cholesterol.  Medium chain triglycerides are easily digested, absorbed, and put to work in the body instead of being stored as fat.  This improves metabolism and increases circulation and heat production.   Coconut oil is also over 40% lauric acid (breast milk is rich in lauric acid) which contributes to a strong immune system.  Olive oil has saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, all distributed at healthy proportions.  It is a good source of vitamins E and K.  Olive oil also contains antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties.

By now, hopefully, you are all asking where do I buy these healthy oils and how do I use them?   

Where to buy these oils:
Because of the growing popularity of both these oils, they are available in most grocery stores.  Otherwise, check your local health food store.  I have found the best deal for coconut oil at Costco.  You can buy a 54oz. container of virgin cold pressed organic coconut oil for $15.99.  If you cannot buy coconut oil locally, there are several online retailers that sell coconut oil, such as or

How to use these oils:  

Olive oil should primarily be used in non heated forms.  Remember it contains mono and polyunsaturated fats that are unstable and oxidize quickly with high heat.  If you choose to fry with olive oil, keep it at moderate low heat.  Olive oil is wonderful in salad dressings, dips, marinades, or drizzle over noodles or steamed vegetable.

Coconut oil can be used for so many things and in so many different ways.  

1. Baking:  I have had great success substituting coconut oil for vegetable oil in my recipes.  Use 1 cup to 1 cup ratio when replacing other oils/butter in recipes.  I personally use coconut oil in all my baking.  Typically, I use a combination of coconut oil and just depends on the recipe.  Because of it's slight coconut flavor, it especially tastes good in brownies, morning glory muffins, or banana bread.  But, I also put it in chocolate chip cookies, cakes, and bars, and everything has turned out great.  Give it a try and have fun experimenting with it!  
How to bake with it:  Coconut oil is solid at temperatures below 72 degrees.  In the summer months my coconut oil turns liquid, but in the colder months it is solid.  At first, I always melted the coconut oil in a pan before adding it to my recipe.  One problem with this is that when you add the warm coconut oil to the recipe and then add cold eggs this causes the coconut oil to harden and you will see small chunks of white coconut oil in your batter.  This really doesn't make a difference in the end result, but it's something to be aware of.  If it bothers you, you could either bring your eggs to room temperature first or let the coconut oil cool awhile before adding.  Also, have the mixer running as you add the melted coconut oil.  Lately, I don't even bother melting it first and I use the coconut oil like I would butter.  Last week, when I made banana snack cake I used 1 stick butter and 1/2 cup coconut oil.  I kept the coconut oil solid, added it to the sugar with the stick of butter and turned the mixer on.  I let it beat until it was soft and creamed together and then continued the recipe as usual.  So simple, and it turned out great! 

2.  Cooking:  Coconut oil is very stable at high temperatures so it is a great choice for cooking, sauteing, and frying.  My favorite food to cook with coconut oil is scrambled eggs!  I add a spoonful of coconut oil to the pan, pour in the scrambled eggs, and cook.  They turn out moist and delicious with just a slight sweet, nutty flavor.  What a simple, healthy, and nutritious breakfast to serve your family!!  I also use coconut oil to grease the pan when I am cooking pancakes or french toast.  Not only does it keep the food from sticking, it also adds some healthy fats and nutrients to your meal!

3.  Smoothies:  Add 1-2 Tbsp. coconut oil to your smoothie for an energy boost!  *tip: Melt the coconut oil, cool slightly, then add while the blender is running for a silky smooth texture.

4.  Beauty care:  Use as an eye make up remover, moisturizer/lotion, and to help eliminate cradle cap and dandruff....just to name a few uses!

5.  Health care:  Rub some coconut oil on bruises, because it will speed up the healing process by repairing damaged tissue.  In fact, due to it's antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial properties, it is beneficial for many conditions such as: athlete's foot, ringworm, thrush, diaper rash, yeast infections, ulcers, bug bites, and much more.

What an amazing tropical fruit!  I hope you have been inspired to pick some up today and begin using truly healthy oils in your home!

To catch up on any articles you may have missed in Spring Clean Your Eating Habits, please check out the Monthly Themes page.

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