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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Heart-Healthy Oils

I found this article in one of the newsletters that I receive and thought it was helpful. Take a look at this list of heart-healthy oils and how you can incorporate them into your dishes.

Q: I try to use a lot of olive oil when I cook, but I'm a little bored with it. What other oils can I try that are both flavorful and good for my heart?

— Alan, North Dakota

A: I'm glad to hear that you're a fan of monounsaturated olive oil. Not only do I love foods lightly sautéed in it myself, but I'm a big fan of a little extra-virgin olive oil mixed with balsamic vinegar on my salads as well. Keep in mind, however, that as good as unsaturated oils are, like all oils they are relatively high in calories (120 per tablespoon). If you are trying to lose weight, limit your intake of oils to a few tablespoons daily. Here are a few other heart-healthy unsaturated oils that you might want to try:

Avocado oil: Pressed from the fleshy pulp surrounding the avocado pit, this nutty-flavored oil, like olive oil, is rich in monounsaturated fats. It has a high smoke point, which makes it good for sautéing or stir-frying fish, chicken, or vegetables. It's also delicious in vinaigrette dressings or drizzled over vegetables.

Grapeseed oil: Extracted from the seeds of grapes, and typically imported from France, Italy, or Switzerland, this oil also has a high smoke point, which makes it good for sautéing or stir-frying. It is equally delicious in salad dressings. Some of the imported oils have a rather grape-y flavor, but many are quite bland or even nutty tasting. Try a few to see what you like best.

Nut oils: The good thing about nut oils, such as almond, hazelnut, macadamia, peanut, pecan, pistachio, and walnut oils, is that they provide the same monounsaturated fats that are found in the nuts themselves (but they don't contain the fiber). Since overheating will diminish the flavor of nut oils, avoid sautéing and use them instead in salad dressings or drizzled over cooked pasta or vegetables. Nut oils can go rancid quickly, so store them in the refrigerator to keep them fresh.

Pumpkin seed oil: Made from roasted pumpkin seeds, this very flavorful, dark green, opaque oil is best used in combination with lighter oils for sautéing or in salad dressings. It can also be used undiluted to add a distinctive flavor to fish or steamed vegetables.

Safflower oil: I know you wanted recommendations for flavorful oils, but I recommend using relatively flavorless safflower oil because it contains more polyunsaturated fats than any other oil. It also has a high smoke point, which makes it fine for sautéing or stir-frying. You can mix it with more flavorful oils for heart-healthy salad dressings, too.

Learn how to eat to improve your health.
Source: everydayhealth.com

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