Fats make up a large part of our diet; ideally 35% of our energy intake should come from them, so it’s important to get it right and consume the ‘good’ types. Even the smallest of changes to the type of fat that you consume may have health changing effects, helping you maintain healthy cholesterol levels, lower your risk of heart disease and lose any extra weight you’ve been trying to shift. Replacing less healthy fats, such as saturated fats and trans fats, with unsaturated fats, such as MUFAs and polyunsaturated fats, may offer health benefits. All fats, including MUFAs, are high in calories, so use MUFAs only in moderation. Consume MUFA-rich foods instead of other fatty foods, not in addition to them.
Now for the chemistry part! Monounsaturated fat is a healthy type of dietary fat. They are liquid at room temperature but can start to harden when chilled. These types of fats possess one double bond (mono meaning one) in the fatty acid chain, whilst all of the other carbon atoms in the chain are single bonded.
Monounsaturated fats are found in olive oil, avocado, hazelnuts, rapeseed oil, almonds, cashews, peanuts, nut butter, eggs, pumpkin and sesame seeds.
Monounsaturated fats have numerous benefits to the body when it comes to our fertility and general health, including reducing inflammation (important in conditions such as Endometriosis) and contributing to a healthy microbiome. Studies show that eating foods rich in monounsaturated fatty acids also helps to improve good blood cholesterol levels, lowering LDL (bad cholesterol) which can decrease your risk of heart disease and strokes. Research also indicates that these fatty acids may benefit insulin levels and blood sugar control, which can be especially helpful in the prevention of diabetes – important for those with Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).
I am often asked which is best to cook with Olive oil or Rapeseed oil?
Olive oil is a pure oil, a good source of fat- soluble vitamins E and K and is a key component of the Mediterranean diet. It has been found in numerous studies to provide key health benefits due to the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties it contains. Rapeseed oil is also a pure oil, containing no fats or carbohydrates and also a good source of the fat -soluble vitamins E and K. It contains a good balance of fatty acids and is lower in saturates than many other oils, and high in monounsaturated fatty acids. It also has a high content of the omega 3 fatty acid ALA. Therefore, it is a good choice for an everyday cooking oil for good heart health.
When using oils to cook with it is advisable to choose an oil with a high smoke point (burning point). This means that the oil can withstand higher temperatures before the fats start to break down and the flavour of the oil starts to become affected. Good choices for frying at high temperatures are rapeseed oil, peanut oil or sunflower oil.
Olive oil, in studies has been found to be fairly resistant to heat and many people do use it for light cooking. When preparing a salad dressing, or lightly cooking say an onion to start a soup off, you might want to use an oil with a good flavour and many people choose to use extra virgin olive oil, nut oils or flavoured oils.
Always go for cold pressed Extra Virgin oil where possible (please look at the video on Babble Prime on olive oil for more on the benefits and types of olive oil. You will also find a video there on avocado too and its importance to health )
- Why not try combining olive oil, lemon juice, balsamic, tahini and a splash of orange juice makes a delicious salad dressing.
- Why not make your own guacamole using ripe avocados, a squeeze of lemon and some chopped garlic -much nicer than bought!
- Smashed avocado on wholemeal toast with a poached egg and chilli flakes for breakfast
- Add to salads and soups.
- Substitute mayonnaise with avocado in sandwiches
- Avocado pancakes
- Avocado and tomato salsa
- Avocado and chocolate mousse
Avocado and Berry Boost smoothie – start your day off well!
Sue Bedford (MSc Nutritional Therapy)
Why not start the day off with this avocado and berry ‘On the go breakfast smoothie’ and give yourself a magical nutritious energy boost! There is a great balance here of good fat, protein, carbs and lots of vital vitamins and minerals. So, if you are in a rush whizz one of these up and take it with you! Don’t skip breakfast!
(Makes 1 large glass or 2 smaller ones)
1 handful of each of the following: Fresh or frozen Raspberries, blueberries and blackberries
1 heaped tablespoon of chia seeds
100ml of milk of your choice
Place into a blender and whizz together! Enjoy!
Sue Bedford (MSc Nutritional Therapy)
400g cherry tomatoes, halved
7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1000g/2lb mixed medium and large tomatoes, cut into thin slices
8 ounces mozzarella of your choice torn into pieces
Ground black pepper
Fresh basil leaves
How to make:
Mix the cherry tomatoes with 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a small bowl; season with a pinch of salt (if required).
Arrange the tomato slices on a platter and season with a little salt and pepper. Arrange the mozzarella over the tomatoes. Spoon the cherry tomatoes over the salad and drizzle with remaining 6 Tbsp of olive oil; season with pepper. Let stand 30 minutes to let flavours mingle together. Place the fresh basil leaves over the top and enjoy with bread or fish/chicken.