Fish Oil: Fish oil is the most concentrated source of omega-3 fatty acids, and omega-3s are "good fats" that are essential to human health. Studies have shown that omega- 3 fatty acids can lower blood pressure, protect against heart disease and certain cancers. The American Heart Association recommends that people eat fish at least twice a week to increase their intake of omega-3 fatty acids. The best fish for omega 3s are herring, sable fish, wild Alaskan salmon, black cod, and anchovies (But, do stay tuned to seafood watches for environmental and health updates). Read more about the benefits of fish oil here on webMD.
Extra Virgin Coconut Oil: According to nutritionist Nicole Glassman, coconut oil "is one of the world’s hidden gems." Among other health benefits, coconut oil helps protect against heart disease, helps with digestive disorders, hormonal issues (offsets the high estrogen production), fertility problems, thyroid problems, helps to clear candida, helps with cavities, provides the body with more energy, helps to balance blood sugar, reduces the body’s need for Vitamin E, and supports thyroid function, among other things. To read more about coconut oil and it's benefits, check out the recent article in The New York Times "Once a Villain, Coconut Oil Charms the Health Food World" and "Coconut Oil - Mindful Tip of the Week" on Creative Delites. Coconut oil is also great for high-heat cooking, including browning, frying and baking, and it's highly resistant to spoilage.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Of all the oils, this is the best! If nothing else, get yourself a really good bottle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. EVOO has the highest amount of heart-protective monounsaturated fats and polyphenols — antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory and anti-clotting properties. It's also been shown to lower your risk of heart disease, lengthen your life, reduce your odds of cancer and diabetes, and help you lose weight. Use for dressings and cold sauces, drizzling, or low-heat cooking.
Tip: Get this Misto Olive Oil Sprayer. I use it for spraying baking sheets and muffin tins with EVOO and other non-sticking cooking needs, instead of using Pam and olive oil and butter substitutes - AMAZING!
Flax Seed Oil: Also, a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids that have been shown to have heart-healthy effects. Flax seeds are great for skin health and boosting energy levels. There’s also some evidence it can help reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes. Flax seed oil is best used for condiments and salad dressings. For recipes with flax seeds and flax seed oil check out my recent post on Foodista "Flax Seeds for Hot Flashes," as well as shopping and storing tips below.
Storing Oils: You can store flax seed oil in the fridge for about 6 weeks before going bad. I recommend freezing your flax seed oil because it will not saturate when frozen. Keep your EVOO and coconut oils in a cool, dark place. EVOO has a 18-month shelf life at room temperature and a 12-month shelf life at room temperature, once opened.
Best Fats For Baking:
Butter: I'm not going sit here and say that butter is good for your health. But, it's certainly not bad for you if consumed in small quantities. Try and get organic grass-fed butter (free or hormones and antibiotics) and always buy unsalted for baking. Store your extra sticks of butter in the freezer for ultimate freshness. If you are vegan, grapeseed or corn oil work best in baking because their flavors are neutral. For "Healthy Recipes with Butter- Say What?" check out this post on Foodista.
Ghee: Ghee is a super-clarified butter used primarily in Indian cooking. Even though, like butter, it is high in saturated fat, you are better off using butter and ghee in baking, rather than margarine or shortening because it tastes better and it's natural. Ghee is best for browning or frying, and general high heat cooking. Why is ghee better than French clarified butter? - It keeps longer at room temperature, good for people who are sensitive to milk solids, has a higher smoke point, and it's better for emulsification. Look for organic grass-fed ghee in your market or online, at pureindianfoods.com - This company offers all different kinds of delicious flavored ghee! For further reading on fats & oils, check out the book "Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill" by Udo Erasmus and "Know Your Fats" by Mary G. Enig. Sources: The Natural Gourmet Institute and WebMD.