Despite what you may have heard, “fat” is not a dirty word. Its functions include promoting cell growth, protecting your organs and playing a role in the absorption of nutrients. Our bodies need fat to absorb certain fat-soluble nutrients such as vitamins A, D, E, and K, as well as beta-carotene.
Fats also contribute to satiety, or the feeling of fullness, after a meal. The body processes fat, as well as protein, more slowly than carbohydrates, which can help you feel fuller and maintain a healthy weight. Fats like oils are an excellent source. Every day, women 30 and older should aim for 5 teaspoons of oil, and men in the same age group should aim for 6 teaspoons a day.
Make sure you choose the right oil. Replace oils containing saturated fats with oils high in healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which may help reduce the risk of heart disease.
1. Olive oil
Olive oil is a staple ingredient of the famous heart-healthy Mediterranean diet. It is perfect for tossing salads and pasta. Virgin olive oils are those whose oil has been extracted without using chemicals. Extra virgin oil is the highest quality. Extra virgin olive oil contains over 30 different phenolic compounds. A group of phytochemicals, many of which have anti-inflammatory and blood vessel expanding action.
One particular phytochemical is attracting a lot of attention because of its potential protective effect against Alzheimer’s disease. Some types of extra virgin olive oil contain a natural anti-inflammatory compound called oleocanthal. If this compound is present in olive oil, you can smell it like pepper in the back of your throat.
Additionally, extra virgin olive oil contains higher amounts of healthy monounsaturated fats than other oils. Monounsaturated fats can help lower your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels. A study published in February 2017 in the journal Circulation found that a Mediterranean diet supplemented with 4 tablespoons (tbsp) of virgin olive oil daily helped improve HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels. ).
You can use olive oil for stir-fries and baking, but it has a relatively low smoke point (the temperature at which the oil begins to break down and smoke). So it’s not good for frying. While cooking can break down some of the polyphenols, enough remains to give them their health benefits.
2. Rapeseed oil
Rapeseed oil is only 7% saturated fat and, like olive oil, is high in monounsaturated fat. It also contains high levels of polyunsaturated fats.
Rapeseed oil has a higher smoke point than olive oil and a neutral flavor. It is therefore better for cooking over high heat. Since it doesn’t have as much flavor as some other vegetable and seed oils, it’s not recommended for salad dressings and other dishes where you want the oil to add some flavor.
3. Linseed oil
Flaxseed oil is an excellent source of alpha-linolenic acid, a form of omega-3 fatty acids. Fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines provide the other forms (eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid).
Omega-3s, a type of polyunsaturated fat that your body cannot produce on its own, may lower your risk of certain types of cancer. Flaxseed oil, in particular, can help reduce arthritis symptoms.
Another advantage. Flaxseed oil contains omega-6 fatty acids, which are also important for your health. You may have heard that omega-6s aren’t good for your health, but that’s not true. Just be sure to balance your intake of omega-3s and omega-6s.
Do not heat this oil, as this can disrupt the fatty acid content. Instead, use it in cold dishes like salads. It is fantastic when poured over green vegetables or whole grains, or in a marinade.
4. Avocado Oil
If you love avocados, why not try avocado oil? Avocados and avocado oil are high in healthy monounsaturated fats.
Avocado oil has excellent nutritional value at low and high temperatures. Avocado oil has a higher smoke point than olive oil, so it’s better for high-heat cooking. It can be used for sautéing, sautéing or grilling. The neutral flavor of avocado oil makes it a good option for baking.
5. Walnut oil
Walnut oil is a healthy choice and a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, primarily alpha-linolenic acid.
This oil is unrefined and has a very low smoke point, so it should not be used for cooking. It has a rich, pronounced nutty flavor and is ideal for salad dressings and as a flavor enhancer to finish off a dish. Walnut oil is great for desserts and other recipes that benefit from a nutty flavor.
6. Sesame oil
Sesame oil is a staple in Asian and Indian cooking and is on the list of heart-healthy cooking oils. It is another polyunsaturated fat. Sesame oil has known anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis.
It has a high smoke point, which makes it good for high heat cooking like stir-frying, but it has a strong flavor.
7. Grape seed oil
Grapeseed oil is low in saturated fat and has a high smoke point. Making it a healthy choice for all kinds of cooking and grilling. Its nutty but mild taste is also suitable for salad dressings or grilled vegetables.
Like flaxseed oil, grapeseed oil contains omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Grape seed oil also contains vitamin E, which acts as an antioxidant to help fight free radicals. It is a key vitamin for immune system support. 1 tablespoon of grapeseed oil is an excellent source of vitamin E.
8. Sunflower oil
Sunflower oil is high in unsaturated fat and low in saturated fat. Research shows that opting for sunflower oil instead of an oil high in saturated fat can lower LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Like grapeseed oil, 1 tablespoon of sunflower oil is an excellent source of vitamin E.
Oils to Limit or Avoid
1. Coconut oil
This oil is controversial. Indeed, coconut oil, which is solid at room temperature, is about 90% saturated fat, but some believe that not all saturated fat is created equal. It contains a large amount of medium-chain fatty acids, which are more difficult to break down into stored fat by the body. Another benefit: A study published in March 2018 in the BMJ Open found that the oil significantly increased HDL cholesterol levels, although not all studies came to the same conclusion.
That said, coconut oil may also raise your LDL cholesterol levels, according to a study published in January 2020 in Circulation, and that’s not good news. If you want to use coconut oil for cooking or baking, do so in moderation, within the recommended limits for saturated fat intake, and as part of a larger healthy diet.
2. Partially hydrogenated oils
The main source of unhealthy trans fats in the diet is partially hydrogenated oil. It is found in processed foods. These artificial trans fats are created by an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid.
Small amounts of trans fat can build up in your arteries quickly if you’re not careful.
3. Palm oil
Palm oil is made up of roughly equal parts saturated fat and unsaturated fat. Since it is semi-solid at room temperature, it is often used in processed foods in place of partially hydrogenated oils. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, considering it’s lower in saturated fat than butter and contains no trans fats.
However, when cooking, palm oil should not be your first choice, especially if you can easily choose to use oils with lower saturated fat content. In addition, people with diabetes should be very careful with their intake of saturated fats (because they are more prone to heart disease) and avoid fat sources such as palm oil.
The use of palm oil also raises ethical concerns, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature, as palm oil production has been linked to deforestation and unfair labor practices.
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