During the late 1980s, fat-free and low-fat foods were the rage. People adopted the mindset that all fats were bad and did their best to avoid them entirely. Fortunately, scientific research has now proven that the right fats, such as healthy food oils, actually deliver health benefits. In this post, we explore what healthy fats are and how seniors can add them to their diets.
Instead of simply saying that all fats are unhealthy, we need to distinguish between good and bad fats. The so-called bad fats are saturated and trans fats, substances that are usually in a solid form at room temperature. On the other side are the healthy fats: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that remain in liquid form at normal indoor temperatures.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) recommends avoiding trans fats and limiting saturated fats to less than 10% of your total calories per day. Their guidelines also state that 20% to 25% of daily calorie intake should come from healthy fats, such as food oils.
Consuming food oils that provide monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats has been shown to provide health benefits for seniors, such as:
The biggest downside to cooking oils is that they're more calorie dense than carbohydrates and protein. This means the recommended serving size for food oils is small. If you're not careful about how much you consume, you could greatly increase your calorie intake and potentially gain weight.
Also, food oils expire. If you keep them too long, they can turn rancid. Make sure you check the sell-by dates on oils before you use them. You can typically continue to use them for 30 to 60 days after the printed date, but give the oil a sniff test and check its color before you consume it.
There are many polyunsaturated and monounsaturated food oils that older adults can try. Let's take a look at them based on their smoke point, which determines the best ways to use them.
Use the following oils for searing and browning at high temperatures:
Make these your go-to oils for stir-frying, baking and roasting in the oven:
These oils are just right for quick sautéing, low-heat baking and sauces you simmer on the stove:
Save these more delicate oils for recipes you prepare without heat:
Many of the meals we serve here at Collinwood senior living community in Fort Collins include healthy food oils. Here are some of our tips for how to use them:
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