Fats: This formerly four-letter word has finally been given its proper place in our diets — a front row seat! Nutritious fats are essential for good health, while highly processed ones, the black sheep of the fat family, are best avoided. But if you find yourself scratching your head when trying to make a choice in the grocery store, you’re not alone. “There’s still a tremendous amount of confusion,” says Roxanne B. Sukol, MD, medical director at Cleveland Clinic Wellness Enterprise. When in doubt, choose plant oils that have stood the test of time, says Dr. Sukol. Look for the words “cold-pressed” or “expeller-pressed” on the label — this means that the oil has been extracted mechanically rather than with a chemical solvent. For stir-fries and other high-heat cooking, peanut oil and avocado oils are good bets, says Dr. Sukol. For everything else, she says, look to the Mediterranean: olive oil, olive oil, and more olive oil! “It’s nutritious and delicious,” says Dr. Sukol. “The rules for making it were codified 2,000 years ago.” Avoid oils “invented” in the 20th century, like soybean oil and corn oil — shown to increase inflammation in the body — as well as Crisco and margarine, says Dr. Sukol. In other words, save technology for the office, and kick it old school in the kitchen.
“The olive tree is surely the richest gift of heaven.” Thomas Jefferson