Cooking oils play an important role in our diet and health. But with so many different types of cooking oil on the market, it can be challenging to know which one is best for you and your lifestyle.
From olive oil to sunflower oil, there are a variety of options available—each with its own set of benefits and drawbacks. As with most aspects of nutrition and health, it's important to make informed decisions when choosing the right cooking oil.
Choosing the best oils for cooking can positively impact blood sugar-conscious individuals by helping them manage their intake of saturated fats, as some oils contain higher levels than others.
Read on to learn more about the various types of oils, what oils are bad for you and how they can provide a smarter alternative to your meals.
Types of Cooking Oils
Whether you are a beginner or a pro in the kitchen, these cooking oils provide various health benefits and can be used for multiple purposes. Here's a quick overview of some of the most commonly used oils in cooking and why you should consider using or consuming them.
Regardless of the type, olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats. In fact, it contains about 75% monounsaturated fatty acids by volume. When used as a replacement for saturated fat, these monounsaturated fats help lower your LDL cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Moreover, olive oil contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties associated with a 17% lower risk of cancer mortality.
Canola oil is made from pressed canola seeds and contains about 62% monounsaturated fats. Canola oil is relatively low in saturated fat, making it an ideal choice for those looking to limit their intake of unhealthy fats. What's more, contains omega-3 fatty acids and has a smoke point of approximately 400°F, making it suitable for frying.
Coconut oil has become a popular choice for cooking and baking, but it's important to be mindful of its high saturated fat content. Over 80% of coconut oil is composed of saturated fats, with one tablespoon containing 12 grams of saturated fat and 14 grams total. This puts it on the same level as bacon grease—hardly considered as a smart choice for your heart.
Studies have shown that coconut oil increases one's low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the "bad" cholesterol that clogs arteries and puts individuals at risk for heart disease. To protect your health and lower bad cholesterol, keeping saturated fat intake to less than 6% of your daily calories is recommended, which translates to 12 grams of saturated fat a day for those on a 1,800-calorie diet.
If you are looking for healthier options, try using oils that are lower in saturated fats, like olive and canola oil.
Is sunflower oil bad for you? No. Sunflower seed oil is a great option for those seeking a healthier cooking solution. It's one of the more widely used oils and provides various health benefits. Sunflower oil offers an excellent source of Vitamin E and contains omega-6 fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation in the body.
Furthermore, sunflower oil contains only 8% saturated fat, making it a healthier choice than other cooking oils, such as coconut oil. Sunflower seed oil also has a higher smoke point, so it can be used for high-heat cooking without losing its nutritional value.
Avocado oil is a unique and underrated type of cooking oil. It's made from the flesh of avocados, making it rich in monounsaturated fats and antioxidants that can help protect your cells from damage.
It contains vitamin E and also helps the body retain other fat-soluble vitamins. Additionally, avocado oil has the same heart-healthy monounsaturated fats as canola oil, making it another great choice for those looking to incorporate more nourishing oils into their diet.
Palm oil is a cooking oil derived from the fruit of the African palm tree. It's widely used in processed foods but contains an unusually high concentration of saturated fats – up to 50%. As such, this makes it one of the least popular cooking oils available, as consuming too much-saturated fat can increase your risk of heart disease.
Sesame oil is a heart-healthy cooking oil approved by the American Heart Association (AHA). It's made from sesame seeds and is rich in antioxidants and healthy fats such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
It contains various vitamins and minerals that can help reduce inflammation and improve immune function.
Which Cooking Oil Is For You?
With so many options available, cooks should consider each cooking oil's health benefits and flavors before selecting one for their meal plans. From olive oil to sesame oil, numerous cooking oils can be beneficial for your health and add flavor to your dishes.