Canola oil is a healthy oil useful for cooking. It is made from the crushed seeds of the canola plant (rapeseed). It has less saturated fat than other vegetable oils: Canola has 7% saturated fat, sunflower oil is 12% saturated fat, while corn oil is 13 % and olive oil is 15% saturated fat!!
Canola oil has more omega-3 fatty acids, in particular, alpha linoleic acid (ALA) than all other vegetable oils except flaxseed oil. ALA cannot be made by the body, and ALA has been found to decrease blood pressure, decrease inflammation and cholesterol as well. Studies have shown that switching out fats for the same amount of canola oil can decrease the incidence of heart disease!
Canola oil has a high smoke point. It has a smooth texture with a light flavor. As a cooking oil, it is useful in grilling and stir-frying. It can be added as a salad dressing, sauce, or marinade. It can be used to replace margarine in recipes as well.
Canola oil is mad from GMO plants that are low in erucic acid (causes heart damage). The plants producing canola oil have been modified to have lower concentrations of erucic acid than do wild cultivars. It is the erucic acid content that has some people worried. It turns out that the amount in canola oil is negligible. It is clear that canola oil reduces LDL and cholesterol levels in the body. That is a good thing!
Canola oil has 61%monounsaturated fat (equal to olive oil) and 32% polyunsaturated fat. It also contains phytosterols (beta-sitosterol), which function to decrease cholesterol. Vitamin E and K are present in canola oil as well.
A high ALA diet reduces the threat of myocardial infarction (heart attack) – it turns out that canola oil is high in ALA.
Canola oil can be used in place of butter, as well as in shortening for use in cooking, baking, sauteing, as well as in salad dressing.
One other concern in canola oil is the process of producing it. Hexan is used to extract the oil from the crushed seeds. This is also used to extract oil from soybeans, nuts, and olives. Most soy products and ingredients in meat analogs have hexane processing. Hexane is a neurotoxin and it is unclear if trace residues are a health hazard. However, tests on canola oil have not shown detectable amounts of hexane. The FDA does not monitor hexane levels in food and does not require food manufacturers to test for it. Hexane extraction is banned in organic products. If the food is processed by an expellor press or cold press, then the oil is physically pressed out. Of note, whole soybeans (edamame, tofu, tempeh, soy milk, soy yogurt) are hexane free.
The Mediterranean diet has been shown in numerous studies to be associated with decreased cardiovascular disease, decreased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, decreased risk of Parkinson’s disease, and decreased cancer risk.
It is a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and fish.
The base of the diet is composed of fresh fruit and vegetables with whole grains. Included in that is olive oil, beans, nuts, legumes, herbs, spices, and seeds.
Replace butter and margarine with olive oil. For example, dip your whole wheat bread in olive oil and not butter.
Use herbs and spices for flavoring, not salt.
Have fish and poultry at least twice a week.
Increase plant based foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts. Whole grains do not have trans-fats (bad fat)
Nuts have high fat content, but it’s not a bad fat. You should have a handful of nuts a day, but make certain they aren’t salted nuts.
Chose healthier fats. Avoid hydrogenated fats (trans fats) and use more olive oil, which can decrease your LDL bad cholesterol. Canola oil has linolenic acid ( an omega-3 fatty acid) that can decrease triglycerides in the body. It also decreased clotting and the risk of myocardial infarctions.
Increase the amount of fatty fish in your diet, especially lake trout, mackerel, herring, sardines, salmon, and albacore tuna. These have high amounts of omea-3 fatty acids in them as well.
Wine can be helpful for cholesterol at 5 oz a day for women and up to 10 oz a day for men.
Switch to whole grain breads and cereals, as well as whole grain rice and pasta.
Eat baby carrots, apple slices, and bananas for snacks. Consider fruit salads for snacks.
Nut choices include almonds, cashew, pistachios, and walnuts. They are high in fiber and proteins as well as healthy fats.
Don’t use butter. Use canola oil and olive oil.
Eat red meat only occasionally, avoiding processed meats such as sausage and bacon.
Here are some general consideration below regarding the Mediterranean diet. Now please keep in mind that the Mediterranean diet varies from location to location in the region, yet it is the mixture of the food items that gives the diet it’s savory tastes and healthfulness!
More specific vegetables include tomatoes, broccoli, kale, spinach, onions, cauliflower, carrots, Brussels sprouts, and cucumbers. Nuts and seeds include almonds, walnuts, Macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds. Legumes include Beans, peas, lentils, pulses, peanuts, and chickpeas. Tubers include potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, and yams. Fruits include apples, bananas, oranges, pears, strawberries, grapes, dates, figs, melons, and peaches. Herbs and spices include garlic, basil, mint, rosemary, sage, nutmeg, cinnamon, and pepper. Whole grains include whole oats, brown rice, rye, barley, corn, buckwheat, whole wheat, whole grain bread and pasta. Dairy includes cheese, yogurt, and Greek yogurt. Fish and seafood include sardines, trout, tuna, mackerel, shrimp, oysters, clams, crab, mussels, and salmon. Eggs include chicken, quail and duck eggs. Fat sources include extra virgin olive oil, olives, avocados, and avocado oil. Coffee and tea are fine, as well as water.
Remember that the dining experience should be enjoyable and with friends and family. Wine in moderation.
There are some key facts to know when you are in the store about fats to avoid: No Trans-Fats! The FDA is planning to have these removed from processed foods in the near future. Lean towards Monounsaturated fats (MUFA) which are heart healthy.
Avoid vegetable shortening, which is abundant in baked foods and also sticks of margarine, which have Trans-fats in them.
Tub Margarine may be free of Trans- fats, but be careful as they may have partially hydrogenated oil in it. That is the same as trans-fats! If you see that on the label, chose another brand!
For your spreads used in baking, try to aim for those with at last 2/3 oil in them to get the best results.
Aim for more MUFA. Olive Oil and Avocado Oil are the best choices to use in baking, dressings, cooking. They have 65% MUFA content!
Extra Virgin Olive still has the polyphenol antioxidants and vitamin E in it,. This choice is even better as it is more healthful.
Canola Oil is another option for MUFA.
Soybean and corn oils are higher in Polyunsaturated Fats (PUFA) . They have higher amounts of omega-6 fatty acids, but too much of this can be unhelpful in that it can increase body inflammation.
Hazelnut oil, flaxseed oils, and walnut oils are also healthful. Flaxseed oil breaks down at temperatures of 225 degrees, so it is best used in marinades, salads, but not cooking. Likewise Walnut oil, which smokes at 320 degrees ( a rather low temperature for baking.)
As far as nuts are concerned, consider Macadamia nuts, almonds, and hazelnuts for MUFA content. Walnuts have more PUFA in the form of alpha linolenic acid ( ALA) , a form of omega-3 fat that converts to EPA, which is heart healthy. Flaxseed and Hemp both supply ALA as well and are beneficial to health.
Fish poducts, especially tuna, salmon, sardines and other oily fish are high in omega-3 PUFA ( EPA – Eicosapentanoc acid and DHA – docosapentanoic acid). They are excellent choices for food. Try to eat two- four ounce servings a week.
For meat, consider skinless, breast meat of chicken and turkey.
For red meat, which has more harmful saturated fats, aim for ones that have a higher stearic acid content that is found in grass-fedbeef and has more omega-3 as well. Remember that eating fish protects against inflammation, arthritis, diabetes, decreases arrhythmias, lowers triglyceride risk, and decreases blood pressure. To avoid contaminated fish (that have mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls, or dioxin), stay away form tilefish, shark, swordfish, and king mackeral. Instead, try tuna (bluefin, yellowtail, or skipjack), halibut, and salmon. Best choices for sustainable fish can be found at: http://www.seafoodwatch.org/ and http://www.msc.org/ Other eco-friendly and healthful fish include pollack, haddock, albacore tuna, Barramundi, rainbow trout, and farmed shellfish such as blue mussels, oysters, and bay scallops. Farmed seafood offers excellent healthful and sustainable food.
Milk, cheese, and yogurt from grass-fed cows also have higher amounts of omega-3 FA content.
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