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Best and Worst Cooking Oils

February 24th, 2015

Learn what to embrace and what to avoid in a cooking oil.

If you’re pairing healthy food choices with the wrong oils, you’re actually undermining your own efforts to eat right. Here are 3 key points to consider when choosing a healthy oil for cooking.

Healthy Fats

If you’re still a believer in the no-fat or low-fat diet, it’s time to update your scientific knowledge of nutrition. Researchers now know that fat is actually an essential component of our diet. The key is, you must be sure you are choosing healthy fats. These fats can help you metabolize important fat-soluble vitamins, keep skin soft, and actually protect your heart. Unhealthy fats, on the other hand, raise cholesterol, contribute to weight gain, and increase your risk of many health problems.

So how do you tell whether your favorite cooking oil contains healthy fats? Check the label. Oils high in polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats are good choices; products very high in saturated fats or trans fats should be avoided.

Extra Nutrients

You should also consider what extra nutrients your cooking oil may contain. For example, extra virgin olive oil is an excellent source of antioxidant compounds called polyphenols, which are great for supporting heart health. However, some oils may contain nutrients you don’t want to add to your diet. For example, many industrial seed oils contain high levels of omega-6 fatty acids and low levels of omega-3s. Using these oils makes it all the more difficult to achieve the 1:1 balance of these fatty acids that is necessary for optimum health. Instead you may wind up with excess omega-6 in your diet which may increase inflammation in the body and contribute to many health problems.

Smoking Point

Finally, don’t neglect to consider whether your oil is appropriate for the type of cooking you’re planning. Some oils such as flax seed oil or walnut oil make excellent heart-healthy additions to cold foods, but are unsuitable for even low-temperature cooking.

And the Winners Are…

Two of the best healthy cooking oils are:

  • Olive Oil: This makes a great all-around staple for all kinds of cooking applications. Remember that the more refined the oil is, the hotter you can cook without your oil smoking. However, refined or “pure” olive oil does not have the same antioxidant benefits of virgin olive oil.
  • Peanut Oil: Peanut oil has a very high smoke point, making it very useful for cooking over high heat. Even better, it contains plant fats called phytosterols, which help reduce cholesterol and prevent cancer.

Two of the worst cooking oils are:

  • Vegetable Oil: Beware of any hydrogenated oil, including partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. The saturated fats in a hydrogenated oil can increase bad LDL cholesterol and decrease good HDL cholesterol.
  • Sunflower Oil: This type of oil may seem healthy at first, but it contains up to 70 percent omega-6 fatty acids. If you are not supplementing your omega-3s, this can throw your omega-6 to omega-3 ratio way off.

Need More Nutritional Advice?

Eating right can get complicated, especially as menopause starts affecting your nutritional needs. For personalized guidance, please contact Renew Woman™ and take advantage of our virtual nutritionist services.

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