Archive for Wednesday, April 17, 2002

Oils aren’t created equal

April 17, 2002


Do you have a recipe for a pie crust that includes oil?

There are many recipes in low-fat cookbooks that use oil instead of solid shortening or lard. Here's a one-crust recipe that I have shared during various healthy heart classes. For a two-crust pie, double the ingredients and chill the dough before rolling it.

Single-Crust Pie Shell

1 cup flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup cooking oil

2 tablespoons skim milk

In an 8-inch pie plate, stir together flour and salt. Combine oil and skim milk in a bowl and whip until frothy. Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients and mix together with a fork.

Using your fingers, press and form the dough into the pie plate. (Or, shape the dough into a ball and chill. Roll the chilled dough between two 12-inch squares of waxed paper using short, brisk strokes. Peel off top paper. Invert crust and place on pie plate. Carefully peel off paper and gently fit into pie plate.)

For a single-crust pie shell, flute the edges and prick with a fork. Bake in a preheated 450-degree oven for 12-14 minutes or until lightly browned.

Are soft margarines preferred to hard stick margarines?

Yes. Softer margarines contain fewer hydrogenated fatty acids, or trans fats.

Nutrition labels do not list how much trans fatty acid there is in a product. But you can come close if you add the grams of saturated fat, polyunsaturated fat and monounsaturated fat and subtract that sum from the total grams of fat listed. The answer is the number of grams of trans fatty acids in the product. The higher the number, the more hydrogenated the vegetable oil is.

Although trans fats are unsaturated, they appear similar to saturated fats in terms of their effect on blood cholesterol levels. Some studies suggest that trans fats may raise blood cholesterol levels much like saturated fats do.

Should I buy a highly unsaturated oil like sunflower and safflower oil or are olive and canola oils better?

While oils like sunflower and safflower are high in polyunsaturated fatty acids (good for lowering blood cholesterol levels), they carry some risks.

They can depress levels of the "good" HDL cholesterol (the one that removes cholesterol from artery tissue so it can be excreted) and are more subject to oxidation, such as rancidity, than oils like canola and olive oil that are high in monounsaturated fatty acids.

Monounsaturates do not lower HDL cholesterol and they are not easily oxidized, which is a desirable characteristic. Therefore, olive and canola oils both high in oleic acid are recommended.

How about no fat at all? Isn't that even better?

There are a growing number of products labeled "fat-free." Unfortunately, this often does not mean fewer calories. Sugar, salt and other added ingredients may increase calories and further unbalance the salt-to-potassium ratio in the total day's intake.

Everyone needs some fat in the diet for health. The goal is to limit the total amount of fat to prevent obesity and to choose fat sources like olive and canola oils that help build healthier tissues in the body.

Fats also help you absorb fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K and other fat-soluble substances in foods. Don't eliminate all fats in your diet, but choose the ones you do use carefully.

Susan Krumm is an Extension agent in family and consumer sciences with K-State Research and Extension-Douglas County, 2110 Harper St. She can be reached at 843-7058.

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