Peek inside a nutritionist's pantry PART I: Fats & Oils
So, here’s the thing. People ask me all the time what I eat, and/or how to incorporate some of the food items I mention often into their meals. Check out the list and watch the video* below!
*Note: This is my first video where I am talking directly into it. I battled with iMovie for hours on end as well, so please be kind and bear with the bad lighting, poor editing, and occasional stutters on my part. I promise to improve!
I personally love the smell and taste of coconut oil, and make everything from stir-fries to roasting sweet potatoes (you MUST give this a try!) and other vegetables, and include coconut oil into my beauty regime. This is a great cooking oil alternative instead of vegetable oils and canola oils. You can use coconut oil for high temperature cooking due to its saturated fat content, which makes it slow to oxidize and spoil. Not only can you cook, roast, and bake with coconut oil, you can also put them in your smoothie, use them as lotion for the body and face (if solid, rub a small pebble-sized piece in your palms till melted), flavor your coffees and teas, and make a great hair care regime. Minimally processed virgin coconut oil has been shown to increase levels of HDL and decrease LDL (1, 2). Furthermore, not all saturated fats are created equal. The medium-chain fatty acid found in coconut oil is actually immediately used as energy in the body (3).
Organic, pasture-raised butter
Okay, I know, another controversial no-no fat that most people associate with heart-attacks, obesity, strokes, and other health issues. I am going to repeat that one word again here. Quality. Unless otherwise stated (e.g., organic and pasture-raised and finished), most butter you find at the supermarkets come from dairy cows that have been confined in tight spaces in their own manure for most of their lives (4). They are fed antibiotics to reduce risk of diseases as a result of living in air-tight, and often filthy spaces, as well as growth hormones so they can produce more milk. All these leech into the milk from the sick cows, then the food industries add artificial flavors and colorings to make the butter look like they came from healthy cows (5).
However, real butter that comes from healthy, happy cows naturally has a deeper yellow color from the phytonutrients they get from consuming fresh grass (6). Organic, pasture-finished butter also contains good amounts of vitamin A and E, and higher in omega-3 fatty acids (7). Similar to coconut oil, butter is rich in medium and short-chain fatty acids, which our gut bacteria naturally produces, and both are used quickly as sources of energy. Besides, a little butter goes a long way in flavor and satiation!
Here in the Bay Area, Straus is a local and popular creamery brand. I purchase my milks, butter, and yogurt from them, and I feel good too for supporting a local business. Kerrygold is another popular brand of butter.
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Most of you might be in consensus with this oil, so I’ll just keep it short for ya! What I would like to add is that, just like anything else, there are different grades and qualities of olive oil. Since olive oil is a polyunsaturated fat and goes rancid easily, be sure to buy olive oil in dark bottles to protect it from oxidation. If you buy a large bottle, pour some out into a smaller, dark bottle (or wrap with aluminum foil, like mine), and keep the rest in the fridge until you finished your small bottle. This ensures maximum freshness and minimal oxidation of the olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil is the highest grade of olive oil, but is not recommended for high temperature cooking due to its lower smoking point as an unsaturated fat. If you would like to sauté with olive oil, mix it in with some butter, coconut oil, or water as a buffer. Or drizzle olive oil over salads and other cooked items as a finishing touch of presentation and flavor.
Eggs!** I love eggs! Eggs for breakfast, eggs for lunch, eggs for dinner, and even eggs for snacks! They’re a relatively inexpensive source of protein, cooks fast in many creative ways (frying, scrambling, poaching, boiling), and packs a punch! When you eat eggs, make sure you also consume the good-for-you egg yolk. Say what? Yes, the egg yolks. Compared with egg whites, the egg yolks surpass the whites in almost all of the nutrient profiles (8). If it’s the cholesterol you are afraid of, let me tell you, your liver also produces cholesterol, and if you don’t consume enough from your diet, your liver will compensate. Again, look for organic, pasture-raised eggs that come from healthy chickens (terms such as cage-free, brown, vegetarian-fed do not indicate organic nor pasture-raised). An indication is in the color of the yolk—a healthy chicken would produce eggs with deep yellow, and almost orange yolk, an indicator of rich vitamin A. Pair 2 or 3 eggs with some steamed spinach for breakfast, and you’re good to go!
**While technically, eggs are not in the fat and oils category, I decided to include eggs in this section.
Stay tuned for the PART DEUX of Take a Peek Inside a Nutritionist's Pantry!