We’ve always heard so many negative things about fats – how they cause weight gain and cardiovascular disease and other ailments. Low fat diets have been wildly propagated for decades. But recent research has shown that there are different types of fats and the presence of “healthy” fats in your diet is essential. In fact, adults should get 20% to 35% of their calories from healthy fats.
Good fats versus bad fats
The fats you should avoid are trans and saturated fats. Mono-unsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are great for you, reducing your cholesterol levels and your risk of heart disease. An easy rule of thumb to tell the difference is between natural and processed foods. Most natural foods like nuts will have healthy fats and processed foods like potato chips and baked items, etc. will have unhealthy fats.
What do good fats do?
You need to make sure you’re getting a certain amount of healthy fats regularly. This way, you ensure that there are benefits for digestion, increased appetite satiation, glowing skin, bright eyes, strong hair, stable blood sugar levels and weight loss. If you have a very active lifestyle, then you could up your intake of fats. Else, you could stick to the lower end of spectrum at 20%. A simple way of doing this is by making healthy fats a part of every meal and snack. I Say Organic always recommend choosing plant-based, organic fats like the following for the most benefits:
- Oils – olive, coconut, avocado and flax
- Nuts – almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts and brazil nuts
- Seeds – pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, etc.
- Nut butters (preferably raw and without added oils/sugar)
How do you work fats into your diet?
Our body takes a longer time to break down and digest fats. Splitting up your portions of healthy fats throughout the day ensures that you get constant bursts of energy. A dash of almond butter with your evening biscuits and tea, some sliced or cubed avocado in your salads, nuts or seeds with fruit as snacks – you’ll realise that incorporating healthy fats into your daily meal plan is really easy.
A guide to choosing your cooking oils
Cooking oils could end up contributing to a smaller portion of your daily fat content, besides nuts, seeds and avocados. Though there is a lot of scientific data about healthy and unhealthy oils, any oil is pure fat and should be consumed in limited quantities.
The kind of oil or amount, depends on the purpose of using of the oil – whether over a salad, in cooking, sautéing or baking. Different oils have their own smoking points, after which it oxidises and creates free radicals and harmful compounds. For example, olive oil has a very low smoking point and is not suited for frying or long cooking.
And finally, the selection of oil depends on your culinary traditions or tastes. For example, coconut oil is traditionally used in Kerala for cooking, mustard oil in Bengal and so on.
With our growing need to be healthy, varying palates and cuisines, most of us now stock our kitchens with two or more types of oil.
What oils should be used?
Coconut oil is extremely stable at high temperatures. It has a long shelf life and has many benefits – anti-bacterial properties, helps lower cholesterol, sun protection, great as a moisturiser and make-up remover and many more. Coconut oil is a great replacement for butter in baking and adds amazing flavour to Indian dishes.
Olive oil is healthiest when it’s cold pressed and extra virgin. A great source of Vitamin E, olive oil also has anti-inflammatory and longevity benefits. It is best used in salads or drizzled over pasta and soups.
Peanut oil and Sunflower oil have high smoking points and are good for frying – while we do not recommend consuming deep fried foods. If you do, please ensure that you use fresh oil, as oil once cooked turns rancid and oxidises, making it extremely unhealthy. Sunflower oil is mildly flavoured, making it better for dishes that have more nuanced or delicate flavours, in comparison to coconut oil.
Or you could use Desi Ghee
At I Say Organic, while we recommend using different kinds of oils, we also suggest using another source of healthy fats – Desi Ghee. Great for cooking with a high smoking point, ghee can be used in all kinds of cooking and is appropriately suited for Indian flavours. And most of all it has innumerable health benefits for increasing immunity and digestive health. Ghee has also been used for centuries in Ayurveda treatments, giving it that ultimate stamp of natural healthiness.
So how will you incorporate healthy fats into your diet? We’d love to hear from you!
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