Fats have received a bad reputation for causing weight gain but some fat is essential for survival. According to the Dietary Reference Intakes published by the USDA 20% - 35% of calories should come from fat. We need this amount of fat for:
• Body to use vitamins: Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble vitamins, meaning that the fat in foods helps the intestines absorb these vitamins into the body.
• Brains ability: Fat provides the structural components not only of cell membranes in the brain, but also of myelin, the fatty insulating sheath that surrounds each nerve fiber, enabling it to carry messages faster.
• Energy: Gram for gram fats is the most efficient source of food energy. Each gram of fat provides nine calories of energy for the body, compared with four calories per gram of carbohydrates and proteins.
• Healthier skin: One of the more obvious signs of fatty acid deficiency is dry, flaky skin. In addition to giving skin its rounded appeal, the layer of fat just beneath the skin acts as the body's own insulation to help regulate body temperature.
• Healthy cells: Fats are a vital part of the membrane that surrounds each cell of the body. Without a healthy cell membrane, the rest of the cell couldn't function.
• Making hormones: Fats are structural components of some of the most important substances in the body, including prostaglandins, hormone-like substances that regulate many of the body's functions.
• Pleasure: Besides being a nutritious energy source, fat adds to the appealing taste, texture and appearance of food. Fats carry flavor.
• Protective cushion for our organs: Many of the vital organs, especially the kidneys, heart, and intestines are cushioned by fat that helps protect them from injury and hold them in place.
Not only do we need to include fats in our daily diet but we should wisely choose the most nutritious of these fats. I found this great chart on healthy fats this week that I find helpful. For better viewing and to print yourself a copy go to http://www.eatingrules.com/2012/02/cooking-oil-comparison-chart/
Our challenge this week is to include some healthy oils in your diet and for every day that you do so you can claim the 5 daily bonus points.
Some of my personal suggestions to including healthy oils are:
1. First inventory your kitchen oils. Throw out anything that is past the use date. Note that many oils (olive oil included) are light and heat sensitive. Olive oil should only be purchased in cans or dark bottles and stored in dark cool cupboards.
2. My favorite way to use healthy oils in is home made salad dressing. While the usual recipe is 2 T. oil to 1 T balsamic vinegar I reverse it and splash our evening salad with a quickly whisked 2 T. balsamic vinegar with 1 T. of a high quality olive oil. I've been experimenting with avocado and macadamia nut oil for salads as well (my children actually gave us healthy oil for Christmas!)
3. Another yummy way to get in healthy oils is to pour some good quality oil on a plate with some vinegar and perhaps some fresh herbs or spices and use for dipping a hearty whole grain bread.
3. Fresh raw nuts are another way to get healthy oil whether eaten plain or ground into a fresh nut butter.
4. Add whole flax seed or flax or other healthy oils to a smoothie. (Note flax seeds and oils are best stored in the refrigerator)
5. Pop popcorn with one of the healthy oils that is stable at higher temperatures (Macadamia oil is yum for this )
6. Eat foods that are rich with healthy oil like fresh fish and avocados.
7. Use healthy oil medicinally. I take 3 grams of fish oil daily and have also heard Udo's Oil highly recommended (available in health food stores).