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Since my family has been making some new food choices in hopes of living a longer/healthier life we have adopted a few “food rules.” Make no mistake, we ENJOY eating, we eat meat, AND we live on a budget – but we are not deprived. This may or may not be similar to your life style… and that is okay. But, here I will share a rule that we have adopted. You can adopt this rule too, or not. Either way, it will be okay with me. =)

Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Grapeseed Oil, & Coconut Oil

Last week I wrote about why my family chooses butter over margarine and other spreads. My reasons for choosing butter (besides being a REAL & natural food)  are that it contains vitamins, minerals, and linoleic, lauric and butyric acids (all needed in our bodies), and, yes, cholesterol – which is also needed for brain development, cell elasticity and healthy intestines.  So, butter in moderation is the choice for me!   But, Melinda, one of my readers left a comment about how she also uses extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) instead of butter.  This triggered this weeks post!  In addition to using butter I also use other natural oils that have health benefits too!

When choosing fats, olive oil is a healthy choice. Olive oil contains monounsaturated fat, a healthier type of fat that can lower your risk of heart disease by reducing the total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad”) cholesterol levels in your blood.  According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), consuming about 2 tablespoons (23 grams) of olive oil a day may reduce your risk of heart disease. You can get the most benefit by substituting olive oil for saturated fats rather than just adding more olive oil to your diet.  All types of olive oil contain monounsaturated fat, but “extra-virgin” or “virgin” olive oils are the least processed forms, so they’re the most heart healthy. Those types contain the highest levels of polyphenols, a powerful antioxidant that also can promote heart health.

I use extra virgin olive oil for sauteing vegetables and chicken.  I also use it for making hummus and salad dressings.  Some people are leery of frying in olive oil or have heard that you can’t because it has a high smoke point but I fry fish in it all the time and it is delicious and light!  I just pour a little in my skillet and then pop my floured fish fillets right in.  It is fabulous in my fish piccata!

I also use organic coconut oil for frying in my deep fryer.  One of the “good fats” that makes up about 50% of coconut oil, is lauric acid. Lauric acid is a rare medium-chain fatty acid found in mother’s milk. It is now being shown to have anti-fungal, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial health-protecting properties.  Besides being a healthy oil to fry in, coconut oil is also good for the skin!  Coconut oil is a safe solution for preventing dryness and flaking of skin. It also delays wrinkles, and sagging of skin which normally become prominent with age. Coconut oil also helps in treating various skin problems including psoriasis, dermatitis, eczema, and other skin infections. Therefore coconut oil forms the basic ingredient of various products such as soaps, lotions, creams, etc., used for skin car and can be used to create your own skin care!

One of the newest oils in my repetoire is grapeseed oil.  It is a great oil for salad dressings and sauteing because it has a mild, clean flavor, it doesn’t impart it’s own flavor allowing the other ingredients to shine.  Grapeseeds are a very good source of antioxidants.  It also contains other key nutrients such as flavonoids, linoleic acid and vitamin E, though in small quantities.  Since grapeseed oil contains antioxidants, it is best known for its anti-cancer effects. Studies have revealed that grapeseed oil may help prevent the growth of cancer cells in the colon, stomach and lung.  One more benefit of grapeseed oil is that it is very effective in lowering LDL cholesterol.

I have some grapeseed oil, but since it is an expensive oil, I mostly use it for “finishing” foods and things like salad dressings where it can really be enjoyed.

If you are a new reader you might want to read some of my older “My Whole Food Journey” posts HERE.

Have you got any questions? Are you on your own quest to eat wholesome and/or organic? If you’ve been shopping a little differently as well and the labels have got your brain in a fog… email me or drop me a comment here and I’ll be happy to help you find the answers your looking for! Sometimes shopping in a whole foods store can be overwhelming and leave you with more questions than when you came in!
*Thanks to Michael Pollan and Sustainable Echo for some of the research here.