After 20 years of working with all kinds of different people, I've learned, without a doubt, that 👉 you don't have to be an amazing cook to be healthy.
In fact, sometimes, the simplest dishes can be the tastiest and most nourishing, but when we're overwhelmed and running on autopilot, it's easy to forget how playing with the basics can make life easier and more interesting.
This week, a Forbes reader made me think about the potential of some of the simplest ingredients in the kitchen: cooking oils.
I was out of my league on this one, so I went to the experts for advice on how to use cooking oils for long-term well-being in healthy, flavorful ways.
Y'all, I got schooled, and I loved it.
Most of us know that saturated fat is bad for us, and unsaturated fat is better; but many of us don't even think to ask questions like:
Can oil actually be good for us?
If so, which ones are best?
Does it matter how they are processed or stored?
Does it make a difference if we cook over high heat or eat them cold?
How can different cooking oils be used to enhance flavor?
Which ones are best for baking?
To get those answers, I spoke with a doctor from the Yale School of Medicine, a registered dietician, and several chefs—including one from a Michelin star restaurant in Milan, Italy.
I came away with a bunch of new ideas and was reminded that I was ignoring one VERY important fat in my own diet. 🤦♀️
Have you given much thought to Omega-3s lately?
I have, but I was avoiding the question because the answer was unpleasant. I wasn't getting enough omega-3s and didn't like my options to get more. (At least, I didn't like my options last time I checked!)
Here's the deal:
Oils that primarily contain unsaturated fat have different ratios of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, and, for most of us, that ratio is wildly out of whack. Both are essential for good health, but many cooking oils and processed foods contain huge amounts of omega-6s and very little omega-3s.
Experts recommend an omega 6/3 ratio of 4:1, but most Americans eat somewhere between 20:1 to 50:1. 👀
Studies show omega-3s reduce systemic inflammation that contributes to a wide variety of chronic diseases. They can also help support immunity, cognition, and gut health.
But omega-3 supplements are usually made of fish oil, and I stopped taking them a while back because I was grossed out by the taste and smell, even in "odor-free" pills. I also tend to lean veggie whenever possible, so I wanted a plant-based way to get omega-3s.
They can be found in flaxseeds, walnuts, and several oils mentioned in my column this week, but those sources aren't as easily utilized by the body and correcting such a steep imbalance can be tough without a good supplement.
I don't promote products in this newsletter. I do not get paid for any recommendations, but when I find something great, I'd be bad at my job if I didn't share it.
If you're having the same challenge as me, algal (algae) oil supplements are a rich source of essential DHA and EPA omega-3s. I can't speak for them all, but the ones Nordic Naturals don't have any taste at all. Algal oil is also sustainable, and algae grown for these supplements isn't exposed to mercury or plastics like fish.
Supposedly, their fish oil supplements don't taste bad either, but I haven't tried them. Let me know if you do!
Beyond omega-3s, the experts I interviewed shed light on the nutrition, flavor profiles, and "smoke points" of FIVE HEALTHY COOKING OILS—and offered tips how to use them!
One bit of info that might come as a surprise? "Regular" vegetable oils, canola, sunflower, safflower, etc... have very different nutrition profiles, and one definitely outshines the rest.
Happy cooking! Have a great week.
Thomas Dambo's Forest Giants
On a personal note, my family made a pilgrimage this weekend to see some of Thomas Dambo's Forest Giants at the Bernheim Forest in Kentucky. I fell in love with these gentle giants (made of recycled wood) many years ago but had never seen one in person.
They were everything I imagined and more.
Dambo is on a mission to build a "Trail of 1000 Trolls" to inspire people to venture into forests around the world. If you're lucky enough to have one nearby, it's well worth the trip. They are in Europe, the Americas, and Asia, and he's currently building 10 new trolls throughout the U.S. ❤️
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