For all the criticism it gets, fat is a workhorse in the body. It's crucial to the structure of every cell, helps regulate blood pressure and immune function, and facilitates the absorption of key vitamins. But all fats aren't created equal: Plant oils deliver far more heart-healthy benefits than solid fats like butter, says Roberta L. Duyff, author of the American Dietetic Association
Complete Food and Nutrition Guide.
Here, a few flavorful options:
Aromatic and emerald green, it's assertive but subtly sweet.
This rich oil contains a powerful dose of phytosterols, plant-based compounds that have been shown to reduce the risk of certain types of cancer and inhibit tumor growth in animals. And because phytosterols are structurally similar to cholesterol, they compete with the artery-clogging compound in the intestine, reducing the amount of cholesterol that's absorbed into the body.
For an elegant appetizer, Béatrice Peltre, author of the new cookbook La Tartine Gourmande
, suggests combining 2 Tbsp. unsalted chopped pistachios with ¾ cup sliced red grapes, 6 sliced pink radishes, and 3 ounces crumbled Roquefort cheese. In another bowl, whisk together 2 Tbsp. pistachio oil, 1 Tbsp. each canola oil and balsamic vinegar, a minced garlic clove, and salt and pepper. Toss mixture in dressing and spoon onto endive leaves.