Thursday, July 28, 2011

Healthy Cooking Tips (Part 2)

Bake, Boil, Broil or Roast This I learned from my Cardiologist that the healthy ways to cook lean meat, fish or poultry are baked, boiled (or steamed for fish), broiled or grilled or roasted.  If frying cannot be completely avoided, stir-frying is the better option than deep frying.  And use the right kind of oil.

Use cooking oil with high amount of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats – Firstly, let us distinguish the “bad fats” from the “good fats” and let us define what monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are.  Monounsaturated fats lower total blood cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (the so-called bad cholesterol) and increase HDL cholesterol (the so-called good cholesterol).  Polyunsaturated fats, where Omega-3 fatty acids belong, also lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol.  Both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are the “good fats”.  On the other hand, saturated fats increase total blood cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (the so-called bad cholesterol) while trans fat increases LDL cholesterol and lowers HDL cholesterol (the so-called good cholesterol).  Both saturated fats and trans fat are classified as the “bad fats”.

Based on the above classification, the best cooking oil to use should contain high amount of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, and with low or no saturated fats and trans fat.  Good cooking oils of this type are canola oil, olive oil, almond oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, soya oil, and peanut oil.  Bad cooking oils with high percentage of saturated or trans fat that are to be avoided are coconut oil, palm oil, butter, hard margarine and vegetable shortening.  For frying foods, choose canola oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil or soya oil as these oils have higher smoke point while olive oil has a lower smoke point.

Limit your use of salt – I read that we only need less than 500 milligrams of sodium a day to stay healthy.  Excessive sodium intake can cause fluid to be retained in the tissues, which can lead to hypertension (or high blood pressure) and can aggravate many medical disorders, including congestive heart failure, certain forms of kidney disease, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS).  And the best way to limit sodium in your diet is to limit your use of salt when cooking and dining.  Likewise, avoid eating processed foods and using seasoning mixes when cooking, which often contain excessive amounts of sodium.

And in choosing between sea salt and the common table salt, sea salt is a more natural and healthy alternative because table salt is more heavily processed and contains additives to prevent clumping.

Happy healthy cooking!

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