Friday, February 17, 2006

Good fat, bad fat & a contest

Now that Valentine's day is over, it's time to get back to trying to eat healthy again. Not that chocolate isn't healthy of course. But what about fat? There I said it. Fat. It's not a bad word. It's a vital component to our health. We need fat in our diet, but how much and which fats are the source of much debate. Making sense of it all can be difficult but here goes.

Right off the bat it's important to know that trans-fats are bad news. Trans-fats are the hydrogenated fats that are slowly but surely being replaced in snack foods and margarines. Other fats fall into several big categories, saturated fats, mono-unsaturated fats, and poly-unsaturated fats. The right proportion is key. Unlike trans-fats,none of them are completely bad.

While it's best to limit saturated fats, recent research indicates some saturated fats have significant health benefits. For example coconut oil while high in saturated fat, has medium-chain fatty acids which provide energy and contains lauric acid, common in breast milk, which is antiviral and antibacterial. The easiest thing to do is to remember that fish oils, olive oil, flaxseed oil, rice bran oil, walnuts, and almonds are all good for you, in moderation of course. Other fats need to be judged on a case by case basis.

I've been cooking with olive oil for as long as I can remember. It's a "good fat" relatively speaking. I used to use canola oil, but I was never crazy about the flavor. I then used grapeseed oil. It is very mild flavored and not a bad choice. But my latest favorite is rice bran oil.

Rice bran oil has a high smoke point, meaning it is ideal for frying and it has a toasty, nutty mild flavor I really like. It's a very common cooking oil in Asia. The reason I favor it over grapeseed oil is that while grapeseed oil is high in unsaturated fat, it has more than the American Heart Association (AHA) recommendation for poly-unsaturated fat. Rice bran comes closest to the AHA recommendations for all three fats. It's high in Vitamin E, and many other naturally occurring antioxidents, such as tocopherol, tocotrienol, and oryzanol and phytosterols.

And now, a contest! Which of the following statements about rice bran oil is false?

Rice bran oil:
A. is good for cooking tempura and popcorn
B. has been proven to lower cholesterol
C. has twice as much saturated fat as canola oil
D. is produced in India, Japan, China, Thailand and Italy

The first person to correctly guess will win a bottle of California rice bran oil. California rice bran oil has no preservatives and is GMO free. The second two runners up will receive a handy dandy combination tasting and teaspon, tablespoon measuring spoon.

Choose the false statement and post your guess in the comment section, be sure to include your email so I can contact you, if you win! Mailing address must be in the U.S. Only one entry per person so choose carefully. Good luck!

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