Crash Course in Oils and FatsJul 28, 2023
Nowadays, there are so many ways to get fats into our diets. As a beginner in the world of nutrition, it gets extremely confusing when you want to get yourself a simple cooking oil and realize there are 50 different options on the shelf. In my 12 years of clinical experience in addition to much research, I have found that the fats from olive oil and sardines are top-notch for many health reasons. The research covered in the book called The Blue Zones sheds light on the Mediterranean culture of Ikaria, Greece. These are people that are free from dementia, chronic disease, and inflammatory conditions. They attribute this to their diet and lifestyle. A large part of their diet is mono-unsaturated fats from olive oil and essential fatty acids from smaller fish such as sardines. Just to clarify, not all olive oils or sardines are created equally so here is your guide.
Olive oil is comprised of mainly monounsaturated fats called oleic acid which makes it anti-inflammatory and heart-healthy by fighting off free radicals. To receive maximum benefits from olive oil, it should be organic, cold-pressed, and unfiltered. With that being said, your olive should be darker in color [like the color of a green olive]. If your olive oil is light in color, it has most likely been mixed with refined vegetable oil. They say up to 70% of olive oils on the shelves of grocery stores are fake olive oil options. Another important detail is that your olive oil should be in a dark glass bottle which prevents it from becoming rancid or damaged. Lastly, if you place your olive oil in the refrigerator it should become solid. Olive oil that stays in a liquid form, after refrigeration, indicates that it is not pure olive oil.
Sardines are not always everyone's go-to food but provide tremendous health benefits due to their expansive nutrient profile. Sardines are backed with anti-inflammatory and anti-aging fats in addition to nutrients such as B12 and selenium. In the US, you can often find sardines that are canned in either water or olive oil. The best option for sardines is fresh sardines that you can find fresh at select fish markets. I often grill the sardines with olive oil and sea salt to then debone them. I find they are less intense in flavor when they are fresh. If you opt to try the canned version, it is best to get wild sardines sourced from the Mediterranean that are preserved in water and NOT oil. Many times the oil that the sardines are canned in can become rancid over time which will spoil the nutrient value of the sardines.
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