I see a lot of “healthified” recipes on the internet that use canola oil to replace other fats, usually butter. Let’s think about the logic of this: take out an ingredient made up of naturally occurring fats and replace with a highly processed ingredient, and you have a healthier recipe! Hmm…I’m not convinced.
First of all, saturated fat may not be all that bad for you. Yes, you read that right. Here is why:
- Saturated fats are essential in providing the structure to our cell membranes. Our cell membranes are composed of at least 50% saturated fat.
- They allow calcium to be effectively incorporated into our bones.
- They allow the absorption of fat soluble vitamins: A, C, D, E, and K. (This means that when you drink skim milk fortified with vitamins A and D, you may just be excreting them.)
- They help elongated omega-3 fatty acids be retained in our tissues. (How about some grilled salmon with lemon basil butter for optimal omega-3 absorption…yum!)
- Short-chain and medium chain saturated fatty acids have antimicrobial properties and protect our digestive tract from microorganisms.
But don’t they clog our arteries??! Not so much — only 26% of fat in arteries is saturated; the rest is unsaturated, of which over half is polyunsaturated.
On to canola oil. Canola is composed of 5% saturated fat, 57% oleic acid, 23% omega-6, and 10% omega-3. The oil comes from rape seed, which must be genetically modified for human consumption because it naturally contains a fatty acid called erucic acid, which can cause heart lesions. During processing, the omega-3 fatty acids in the rape seed are transformed into trans fatty acids. I’ll stop now to avoid boring any non-science nerds, but you can read on here for more in depth info.
If you are trying to eat healthier, you should probably avoid sweets and baked goods, but if you must indulge sometimes (like me!), here are some links to some all natural baking recipes:
- Oatmeal, Coconut, and Sunflower Seed Cookies: This entire recipe only calls for 1/2 cup of sugar for 2 dozen cookies. It also uses whole wheat pastry flour.
- Chocolate Hazelnut Spiced Cookies: This one actually calls for white flour, but there is only 1/2 cup. You can skip the frosting to cut down on sugar. Real butter, roasted hazelnuts, cocoa powder, cinnamon, cloves, orange zest, and Frangelico…yum!
- Niki’s Healthy Cookies @ 101 Cookbooks: This is an amazing recipe. It calls for mashed bananas, coconut oil, rolled oats, and almond meal. There are no added sweeteners or refined flours!
At risk of oversimplifying, processed food = bad; natural food = good. Don’t be afraid to use that stick of butter (or non-processed oil like coconut or grapeseed if you are vegan). Happy baking!
Facts gathered from:
Enig, Mary, PhD and Fallon, Sally. The Skinny on Fats. From: Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats, 2nd Ed. <http://www.westonaprice.org/knowyourfats/skinny.html>