In New York City we've recently banned trans fats. Still most of the oils used in our restaurants are still far from healthy.
I was reminded of this when dining in Williamsburg yesterday. I ordered one of my favorite dishes - fish tacos. I suppose I imagined them to be grilled or broiled, similar to the ones I make at home. Instead, I looked down at a plate of deep fried fish, cooked in what I'd guess is a combination of genetically modified canola or soy oils.
I assumed full responsibility. I hadn't asked the waiter for more specifics. I ate what was in front of me, but my body wasn't happy. My skin became irritated.
I was experiencing a symptom of inflammation, which is a result of consuming food that is cooked at high temperatures with polyunsaturated oils (e.g. corn, soy, canola oils). Inflammation also manifests itself in the form of heart disease, join pain, asthma. Lots of good stuff.
It's almost impossible to avoid these oils when eating out, especially when eating fast, convenient food. The best way to control the oils that go into your body is to cook at home.
Here are the oils that I always have on hand. Make sure to buy cold or expeller pressed versions from your health foods store. Unrefined too!
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil – My primary oil. I use it for everything from sauteeing to salad dressings. Avoid using for high heat cooking as this oil has a low smoke point. Avoid mass produced olive oil brands, and look for those that are cold pressed and unrefined (e.g. Flora and Bionaturae).
- Virgin Coconut Oil – A great high heat cooking oil. I use it for stir frys, even baking. It is one of the few plant-based sources of saturated fat - which is a stable fat and something [surprise] we actually need in our diet. Should be solid at room temperature.
- Sesame Oil – Great for flavoring with Asian dishes. I usually add towards the end of a stir fry or in a noodle salad.
- Flax Oil – High in beneficial omega-3 fatty acids. Not to be cooked! It is great as a salad dressing (especially in those with fruits). I also add a spoonful to my steel cut oats.
Let me know if you plan to attend. I should be there.