Oils

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Eating a plant-based diet low in fat and high in carbohydrates may improve mood and relieve symptoms of depression, possibly due to the reduced consumption of arachidonic acid, an omega 6 fatty acid found in chicken and eggs thought to cause inflammation in the brain. High fat meals have been shown to decrease the body’s ability to vasodilate coronary arteries and reduce blood flow. This can induce chest pain in people with known coronary artery disease. Extra virgin olive oil may not impair arterial function as much as regular olive oil, and contain be anti-inflammatory phytonutrients.

Whole food sources of fat found in nuts and seeds may be even better at lowering bad cholesterol than extra virgin olive oil. Oils can become rancid, but the true shelf-life of cooking oils does not seem to correlate to the expiration date and it is recommended to store in a dark, airtight environment to maximize shelf life.

Deep-fried foods have been associated with an increase in cancer risk due to carcinogens formed at high cooking temperatures. Worse yet, these particles become airborne and create dangerous secondhand smoke. Canola oil may generate the least amount of toxic fumes while coconut oil may be the worst. Trans Fat is found naturally in animal foods, however, the food industry synthetically derives them from vegetable oil in a process known as hydrogenation in order to increase shelf life. A food that promises to be trans-fat free may in fact contain up to 0.5 grams of partially hydrogenated oils, so make sure to check the ingredient list when shopping.

Topic summary contributed by Aaron.


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