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Healthy Fats and Oils: A Guide to Healthy Cooking

Healthy Cooking Basics

When it comes to maintaining a healthy diet, the type and amount of fats and oils you consume play a crucial role. Eating the right fats can enhance your health, satisfy cravings, and even aid in weight loss. But how much should you be eating, and which fats are best? Let's find out...

Which Fats and Oils to Include

For optimal health, it's important to include certain fats in your diet regularly:

  • Oily Fish: Salmon, trout, tuna, and mackerel are excellent sources of essential fats. Aim to eat oily fish three times a week.

  • Nuts and Seeds: Incorporate at least one heaped tablespoon of nuts and seeds into your daily diet.

These foods will help you meet your dietary needs for essential fats, keep you satisfied, and support weight loss.

Healthy Cooking Methods

The way you cook your food is just as important as the fats you consume. Frying and burning foods can damage both the food and the oil, making them harmful to your health. Instead, opt for these cooking methods:

  • Steaming: Retains most nutrients and is gentle on food.

  • Baking: A healthy alternative that avoids excessive oil use.

  • Poaching: Ideal for delicate foods, preserving nutrients.

  • Steam Frying: Add a small amount of water to the oil, stir fry for a minute, then cover with a lid to cook. This method reduces heat and protects the oil.

Fat-Friendly Cooking Methods

When cooking with oil, choose those that remain stable at high temperatures. Coconut oil is an excellent choice:

  • Heat Stability: Coconut oil remains stable at high temperatures, preventing it from becoming damaged and harmful.

  • Thermogenic Effect: Coconut oil has been shown to speed up metabolism, aiding in weight loss.

Foods to Avoid

Avoiding certain fats is equally important for your health. Excess consumption of bad fats, such as hydrogenated fats and cheap, processed vegetable oils, is linked to obesity, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Foods to limit include:

  • French fries

  • Hamburgers

  • Deep-fried fish and chicken nuggets

  • Confectionery

  • Chocolate bars

  • Potato crisps

  • Biscuits

  • Doughnuts

  • Margarine

  • Mayonnaise

  • Many store-bought salad dressings

  • These should be occasional treats only, and always check food labels for hidden hydrogenated fats.

Top Tip for Healthy Dressings!

Skip the store-bought salad dressings, which often contain unhealthy fats and additives. Instead, make your own delicious dressings in seconds:

  • Use nut or seed oils.

  • Mix with garlic, herbs, and good-quality red or white wine vinegar.

  • Add fresh black pepper.

Homemade dressings not only taste better but also ensure you’re consuming healthy fats.

Better Choices for Fats

Opt for fats that provide a balance of omega 3, 6, and 9, and incorporate coconut oil into your cooking. These choices support optimum health and successful weight loss.

Cooking Suggestions for a Healthier Diet

  • Fresh and Unprocessed: Buy foods as fresh and unprocessed as possible and eat them soon after purchasing.

  • Eat More Raw Food: Raw foods retain more nutrients.

  • Be Adventurous: Try new foods you haven’t tried before.

  • Cook Whole Foods: Slice, cut, or blend foods after cooking to retain nutrients.

  • Use Minimal Water: Nutrients can leak into the water. Reuse any water used for soups or sauces.

  • Favour Slower Cooking Methods: These retain flavour and nutrients while using less heat.

  • Avoid Overcooking: Don’t overcook, burn, or brown food excessively.

  • Fry Less Often: Fry foods infrequently and switch to coconut oil for steam frying.

By following these guidelines, you can enjoy delicious meals that are also nutritious and support your overall health. Remember, making small changes in the way you choose and prepare your fats and oils can lead to significant health benefits.

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