Nowadays a lot of people becoming vegans for different reasons. Somebody becoming vegan due to their philosophy, another for health practices, somebody worries about planet ecology. The epidemic of cancer diseases spreads across the planet and first we can do to prevent and fight the problem is to start eating properly.
Three years ago we have got bad news from my father’s doctor. My father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. No any treatment can help, proper diet is the only way as I concluded and he became a vegan. Since that moment I have started asking myself about healthy eating and especially about vegan human nutritional needs in order to help my dad. I have started exploring this question from subject to subject and I would like to share my knowledge with you now.
Let’s start with first subject I was curious about: essential fatty acids in vegan nutrition and the source of it – vegetable oils.
Always remember that we are what we eat, and this is first thing we have to start with to
improve our life quality.
OILS IN YOUR KITCHEN
What vegetable oils do you have in your kitchen?
The most widespread oils used for cooking are canola, corn, soybean, olive and sunflower. We have already some ideas about its benefits and use in cooking, since using some of them all the time.
But before we move closer to the subject raised here, I have to mention some information about these oils.
These kind of popular and very advertised vegetable oils, like canola and corn oil, are produced in huge volumes and usually made from low quality products, which are 80-90% are genetically modified.
That’s why I have started looking for good alternatives.
But what kind of vegetable oils do exist and what should we know about them in order to take all the best from it?
I have made the research of 7 vegetable oils: avocado oil, grapeseed oil, hempseed oil, flaxseed oil, pumpkin seed oil, sesame oil and walnut oil.
In this article I will share some facts with you about these vegetable oils and made conclusions.
How to choose right vegetable oil according to different needs? Which is good for your nutrition? Which to choose for different cooking purposes?
So many questions to answer.
Let’s try to understand the issue.
*Since olive oil is the most popular in the area I live, I included some data about it for comparison as well.
NUTRITIONAL ADVANTAGES. OMEGA-3/6 RATIO.
The first important criteria is oil’s nutritional advantages. If you don’t eat meat and fish, you can be at risk of OMEGA-3 and OMEGA-6 deficit. These essential fatty acids can’t be produced by human body and have to be taken with food.
But it is not simply just like that, because the biggest issue here is imbalance of OMEGA-3 and OMEGA-6 fatty acids intake.
The balance between OMEGA-3 and OMEGA-6 is important for human health and should be taken in proportion 1:2 to 1:4. Nowadays humans are using a lot of processed food full of bad oils, which are high in OMEGA-6, but poor in OMEGA-3, what makes average human consume OMEGA-3 and OMEGA-6 in proportion 1:20, and this is very far from ideal healthy ratio.
The content of fatty acids in oils is very different and the idea of research is to understand how we can mix different oils together in order to get complete essential fatty acids complex from plant-based oils and how to use them in proper way for cooking.
OMEGA-3, OMEGA-6 and the ratio is given in the table below. All numbers are counted per 1 tablespoon in order to facilitate counting of necessary daily intake of each product.
|OILS||OMEGA-3, g||OMEGA-6, g||OMEGA-3/6 ratio|
* Data mentioned per tablespoon
Explanation of the numbers:
|OILS||OMEGA-3 (% of DV)||OMEGA-6 (% of DV)||OMEGA-3/6 ratio|
↓ – below DV ↑ – over DV √ – DV (daily value)
As we see from the table above there are three oils rich in Omega-3. Flaxseed is number one with the highest range of OMEGA-3, as high amount as in fatty fish. It is enough of 1 teaspoon of Flaxseed in order to reach recommended daily intake.
Hempseed and Walnuts oils have ideal amount of OMEGA-3 per tablespoon and especially those two have ideal OMEGA-3 and OMEGA-6 ratio and I consider them all-sufficient to use in dressing without mixing in other oils for reaching ideal ratio.
WHY OMEGA-3 IS SO IMPORTANT?
OMEGA-3 helps to reduce the risk for heart disease due to their inflammation-reducing abilities. They also are needed for proper neurological function, cell membrane maintenance, mood regulation and hormone production.
Avocado oil. One tablespoon of avocado oil contains 14g of fat, which is 21% of the DV fat intake. Although that fat percentage might seem high, 9.9 of the 14g are monounsaturated healthy fat and 1.9g are polyunsaturated fat (also a healthy fat). Avocados don’t contain any cholesterol or trans fats and are rich in vitamin E.
Grapeseed oil nutritionally is not so valuable, though this oil can be considered as a good source of vitamin E. The main advantage comparing to other oils is a high Smoke Point. One tablespoon of grapeseed oil has about: 14g of fat (about 10% of which is saturated fat, 16% monounsaturated and 70% polyunsaturated), 9 mg of vitamin E (19% DV).
Pumpkin seed oil is a handy ingredient to keep around and use on a daily basis to improve your metabolic and physiological health. Packed with tryptophan, unsaturated fatty acids and a high level of antioxidative substances, it provides a long list of benefits to both men and women. Pumpkin seed oil is a powerhouse of nutrition. The oil is not 100 % fat which is very rare among oils. This oil is especially rich in proteins (amino acids). The fat concentration in pumpkin seed oil is only about 30 – 50 %. The WHO recommends consuming pumpkin seeds as a useful way to obtain zinc, which is found in large quantities in the small seeds and maintained through the oil production process.
Sesame oil contains 14.2g of saturated fats, 39.7g of monounsaturated and 41.7g of polyunsaturated fats.It is surprising to know that the most prominent health benefits of sesame oil are attributed not to the major OMEGA–6, but to the three sesame specific nutrients – sesamolin and sesamin. This asserts that even the micro-nutrients found in trace amounts can hold the key to the strongest and most powerful medicinal effects of foods.
Hempseed oil. Most of the health benefits of hempseed oil come from its excellent OMEGA-3/6 ratio, which is exactly what the body needs. Hempseed oil provides powerful nutrition and can be used topically as well as internally. The seeds themselves are an excellent source of protein and protein content in hempseed oil is about 20%. The good thing about this protein is that it is a complete protein, because it contains all the amino acids required by the human body. This amazing protein content makes this oil very helpful for all protein related health issues of the body. It can help the body recover faster after workout, build muscle and tone the musculoskeletal system. It is also good for people suffering from chronic inflammatory diseases due to high content of OMEGA-3, which is strongly anti-inflammatory. Taking 1 tablespoon of hempseed oil daily is good enough to start seeing its effects.
Flaxseed oil. Flaxseed oil is the more “natural” kind of oil and it is extracted by cold pressing. *Not usable for cooking! This keeps its nutrients in their original form, making it fit for human consumption. It is rich in OMEGA-3, OMEGA-6 and OMEGA-9 fatty acids. In addition it also contains lignans that are powerful antioxidants. Flaxseed oil is extremely vulnerable to rancidity. It has poor shelf live and must be refrigerated and kept away from sunlight at all times. After opening the bottle, it should be consumed within 3 months. Flaxseed oil can be used as pack to relieve inflammation and pain, because of high content of OMEGA-3.
Walnut oil is among those few oil with ideally balanced OMEGA-3/6 ratio. It contains many micro-nutrients in small concentrations which have potent health benefits. 100g contains 9.1g of saturated fats, 22.8g of monounsaturated fat and 63.3g of polyunsaturated fats. Consumption of walnut oil can help in reducing inflammation all over the body. Walnut oil intake in diet helps to deal with stress better. It may also improve mental faculties and lower stress naturally.
ADVISE: The essential OMEGA-3 can be found in just a handful of plant foods. To meet your body’s needs, it’s important to include any of the following in your diet every day:
- 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed (note that it has to be ground, otherwise it won’t be absorbed fully)
- 1 teaspoon of flaxseed oil
- 6-8 walnuts
- 4 tablespoons of hempseeds
- 1 tablespoon of walnut, hempseed, soy or canola oil
- 1-2 tablespoons of chia seeds
OILS FOR COOKING
Another important criteria is oils smoke point. Smoke point is the temperature at which oil begins to smoke. When oil reaches its smoke point, the structure of the oil begins to break down, nutrients are lost, flavor is changed and most dangerously, compounds can be created that are damaging to your health. Different oils have different smoke point and that is why some are good only for dressing, some are good for dressing and sautéing, but only few are suitable for frying.
Let’s compare the numbers and consider which oils we are going to use for what cooking purposes.
Only some few refined oils are good for cooking at high temperatures.
Even healthy oil becomes unhealthy when it reaches its smoke point. That is why we have to choose oils for deep frying properly.
Refined avocado is the best for frying. Refined sesame and refined olive oils are also suitable.
ADVISE: These three oils are good for frying only, because the process of refining oils degrades it, removing its phytonutrients and antioxidants. Refined oil is missing healthy benefits and that is why Ido advise you to use unrefined oils for dressings and low-heat cooking.
According to smoke point level of unrefined avocado and grapeseed oil, they are perfect for sautéing, but not suitable for frying as we see from the table above. All refined oils are good for sautéing, due to its high level of smoke point.
All unrefined and rich in nutrients oils are suitable for dressings. The cooking art here is to choose taste and flavor according to dish ingredients. Express yourself here to get unexpected results and to experience new tastes.
Avocado oil makes a beautiful light salad dressing and holds an emulsion well. Pair it with citrus fruits, tomatoes, and white wine vinegar.
Grapeseed oil is perfect for dipping and salad dressings. Create a Latin-inspired vinaigrette by mixing grapeseed oil with lime juice, minced garlic, cilantro and chipotle chili powder.
Pumpkin seed oil often is used as a condiment or finishing oil. This oil’s flavor marries well with citrus, maple syrup, mustard, corn, winter squash and certain vinegars. Pumpkin oil is delicious poured over ice cream with a sprinkle of roasted pumpkin seeds.
Sesame oil is a staple in Asian cooking and pairs nicely with ginger, mustard and rice wine vinegar. Good for stir-frying in combination with peanut oil and a dash of dark sesame oil for a bolder flavor. Sesame oil has got a nice, sweet taste and mild aroma. Sesame oil can be added to salads and foods like chicken. One can also use toasted sesame oil, which has a richer flavor and great for additive in recipes.
Hemp seeds oil is healthiest when used cold, for example in salad dressings or drizzling on toast. The taste is nutty and earthy – making it a great oil to use in salad dressings, as a bread dip, but not really suitable for anything sweet, or anything delicate that might get overpowered by the strong flavor.
Flaxseed oil. It is the only plant-based oil with OMEGA-3 higher than omega-6. I use it mostly blending with other oils for salad dressings in order to reach balanced omega-3/6 ratio.
Ideal proportion for reaching 1:3 of OMEGA-3/6 ratio:
Walnut oil is terrific on salads, particularly when you combine it with bits of walnuts. Add walnut oil to chicken or turkey salads along with red grapes and chopped walnuts. Brush a thin coat of walnut oil on grilled fish and steaks just before serving. Try walnut oil in dessert recipes that will be enhanced by the nutty flavor. Adding a few drops of this oil to bread dough makes the bread carry a walnut smell.
Check the recipe for cucumber-tomato salad with walnut oil in my blog: www.gingerbite.co/georgia
Having detailed profile for all mentioned oils, now we need to understand how to use all this knowledge in practice. Let me give you some tips and inspiration to be creative in you kitchen.
DRESSINGS WITH BALANCED OMEGA-3/OMEGA-6
I will give you 3 dressing examples with balanced Omega-3/Omega-6 ratio and perfect dish examples to pair them with.
#1. FLAXSEED OIL & PUMPKIN SEED OIL
Flaxseed oil – 1 tbsp
Pumpkin oil – 3 tbsp
White balsamic – 2 tbsp
Soy sauce – 2 tbsp
Garlic – 1 clove, minced
Ginger juice – 1 tsp
Fresh orange juice – 4 tbsp
Salt and freshly ground rose pepper (Taste mixed dressing before to add salt, because soy sauce gives salty tastes already)
#2. FLAXSEED OIL & GRAPESEED OIL
Flaxseed oil – 2 tbsp
Grapeseed oil – 4 tbsp
White wine vinegar – 2 tbsp
Dijon mustard – 2 tbsp
Honey – 1 tbsp
Onion- 1 small, finely chopped (shallot or any other sweet onion type)
Garlic -1 clove , finely chopped
Juice of lemon – 2 tbsp
Salt and pepper – by taste
#3. FLAXSEED OIL & SESAME OIL
Flaxseed oil – 1 tbsp
Sesame oil – 4 tbsp
Rice vinegar – 2 tbsp
Soy sauce – 2 tbsp
Garlic -1 cloves, chopped
Honey (or brown sugar) – 1/2 tbsp
Ginger juice – 1/2 tbsp
Toasted sesame seeds – 1 tbsp
ADVISE: Since these salad dressing includes flaxseed oil, which is prohibited to heat up over 107°, don’t use them for cooking. Use them for dressing salads or already cooked dishes before serving.
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Leave your comment below with idea for my next research.