Have you ever actually looked at the ingredients in a typical salad dressing? Many might automatically think it’s healthy, since it’s meant to accentuate a nutritious bowl of vegetables. But what if we told you that a typical bottle of dressing is full of preservatives, additives, and sodium? You may even find some that say they’re fat free, which usually means they’ve removed the fat and replaced it with sugar! Numerous marketing tricks are used to fool us into thinking we’re making healthy choices by eating salad, but if we top it with a dressing packed with things that aren’t good for us, we’re defeating the purpose!
Some dressings have focused on reducing the number of ingredients and turned towards “healthier” oil-based vinaigrettes, but many of the top dressing brands still use oils that can negatively impact our bodies, or even some that aren’t meant for human consumption. Our dressings? We’re the only brand that uses extra virgin olive oil as our number one ingredient. One of the tenets we stand by at our company is that we carefully source each ingredient in our products. We create our Dressings and Pita Chips with thoughtful consideration of health benefits and taste, in equal proportions! We’ll use this article to explain what to look for in an oil and why extra virgin olive oil comes out as our top choice for our dressings.
Oils: the good and the bad
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
There have been numerous studies focused on cooking oils over the years, and the main consensus is that extra virgin olive oil is the healthiest option with abundant health benefits (see our article about the top 15 health benefits of olive oil). As a major component of the Mediterranean Diet, extra virgin olive oil is cold-pressed and minimally-processed. The less processing, the more natural, and the better for our bodies. Loaded with monounsaturated fats and antioxidants, extra virgin olive oil is great for use in salads, but can also be used safely for cooking at low or medium heat since it has a low smoke point.
Coconut oil is our second favourite … alright, they might be tied? In our previous blog article, we talked about the reasons we’re nuts for coconut oil. Even though coconut oil is 80-90% saturated fat, it’s the type that’s good for you and in the form of MCTs (medium chain triglycerides). The main reason we love coconut oil is that it’s stable at high temperatures, which means it’s safe to use for frying our favourite Pita Chips!
We think “vegetable oil” is such a misnomer. It makes people think it’s healthy just by having vegetable in the name. Any oil that comes from a plant source can be labelled as vegetable oil, including corn, safflower, sunflower, palm, or soybean oils. They’re often highly refined, processed, and come from genetically-modified sources. In processing, their chemical structures can be modified to the point where they become a compound our bodies can’t even break down. Refined vegetable oils weren’t available until the 20th century, when chemical solvent or oil mill extraction methods were invented. Our ancestors didn’t eat this way; our bodies aren’t meant for it! We’ll stick with the cold-pressed methods invented in the Mediterranean around 2500 BC. ;)
The Really Bad
A bright-yellow flowering member of the family Brassicaceae (also including mustard, cabbage, and broccoli), this plant is used to produce both industrial and culinary oils. So the same oils that are used for engine lubricants and biodiesel are also used for cooking (...ew?). To be fair, these two types of oils are from different varieties of the rape plant, but still.
The main problem with rapeseed oil was the industrialization of the culinary version in the 1970s, when scientists created a plant that had higher levels of oleic acid (a type of monounsaturated fat) and renamed it canola oil. Today, many canola plants are genetically modified so they’re resistant to herbicides, which means we’re ingesting those when we eat canola oil. The extraction method for obtaining canola oil is often completed using chemical solvents, and then further processed until the end product is a flavourless oil with a high smoke point. With all of this processing, any benefits of the antioxidants or vitamins that might have been present in the original plant are all but erased. Also, who wants to eat something that’s flavourless?
In conclusion, it’s important to take into careful consideration what we put in our bodies - remember, you are what you eat!