If you want to make better nutritional choices in the new year, you are in good company. Living a healthier lifestyle is one of the most common New Year’s resolutions. When I appeared on Oregon’s KUIK radio, I shared simple ways you can accomplish this goal, such as switching to a healthier cooking oil. Malaysian certified sustainable palm oil is a favorite because it has more nutrients than more commonly used cooking oils. It also aligns with another goal of mine, caring for our planet.
Some edible oils are harmful
In 2015, the Food and Drug Administration issued an order limiting trans fats from processed foods. This is great news, since this factory-made fat is bad for your cardiovascular system. Unfortunately, the FDA has given food manufacturers until 2018 to update their recipes. It also currently allows food producers to claim a product is trans fat-free, even if it contains up to 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. You must read labels to ensure your foods are free of this harmful ingredient. Avoid products which contain partially hydrogenated oils, the primary source of trans fats.
Choose oils which benefit your health
There are many cooking oils on the market. Some have limited nutritional value. Choose oils which support your health. Olive oil is heart-healthy. Other healthier cooking oils include avocado oil, almond oil and Malaysian certified sustainable palm oil. I learned about palm oil when I lived in Southeast Asia. This orange-red oil looks similar to carrot juice. It’s rich in beta carotene and brain- and skin-supporting vitamin E tocotrienols. It’s also non-GMO and naturally trans fat-free. This is why palm oil is increasingly being used as a wholesome substitute for hydrogenated oils.
Consider the planet when making food choices
Whether your shop at a big-box store or a farmer’s market, think about how your food choices affect the planet. For example, a chicken raised on organic feed is less taxing on the planet, because of reduced pesticide and herbicide use. Perennial food crops, such as Malaysian sustainable palm oil, are better for the planet. Oil palm plantations are also incredibly land-efficient. Per acre of land, oil palm produces 11 times more oil than soybean, and seven times more than canola.
Chef Gerard Viverito, is an culinary instructor as the Director of Culinary Education for Passionfish, a NGO non-profit organization dedicated to educating people around the globe on the issue of sustainability in the seas. He is also operator of Saveur Fine Catering.