The last thing you want is to have your healthy diet saturated with unhealthy oil, especially when you work so hard to choose and select the best food for cooking.
Dishing out dietary information has become quite a fuss nowadays, with pretty much everyone trying to score one with ads and offering little to you. Expect here a hard hitting, unbiased review of some of the misconceptions surrounding what is the healthiest oil (and what’s not).
First, a little Backgrounding
Oils and fats are pretty close. Both are lipids. Meaning that both are made up of saturated fats and/or trans fats, with solid fats (at room temperature) packing more of both (fatty acids) than oils (liquid at room temperature).
This further determines how “resilient” your choice of oils is both while cooking at high temperatures and when stored in a rather cold place.
When exposed to high temperatures, some oils tend to react with atmospheric oxygen (oxidation) and form unhealthy compounds, or become rancid. Saturated and monounsaturated fats tend to maintain their chemical structure for longer when heated, and oils generally have more of these than solid fats do.
With this in mind, here are scientifically proven healthy oils you can have all day and worry less about your heart. Ok, maybe not all day – keep in mind that too much of a good thing can quickly turn out profane.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
Your favorite chef uses EVOO.
That’s because olive oil is super healthy, tasty and versatile. You can use it for roasting healthy on-and-off-the-grill-in-15 minutes-foods, spread on bread, as well as drizzle on soup for that extra tangy, fruity flavor.
The Mediterranean native oil type is largely made up of monounsaturated fatty acids—great for your heart and waistline. Specifically, it contains a healthy dose of lauric acid which helps minimize levels of LDL or “bad” cholesterol in the bloodstream and promotes higher levels of HDL, the “good” cholesterol.
There are two caveats here; EVOO is pretty pricey. Fortunately, simple virgin olive oil offers a better bargain with almost similar benefits. Actually, both only differ in the method of extraction.
The former is derived from the very first squeeze of ripe olives while the latter takes some more squeezing to fill but both contain about 120 calories per table spoon, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).
- Coconut Oil
Multiple recent studies show there’s never been a better time to consume coconut oil. Coconut oil, like extra virgin olive oil, benefits from fewer squeezes.
Virgin coconut oil is semi-liquid at room temperature, lasts longer before it can go rancid and is great for cooking at low to medium and even at higher temperature probably the most heat-resistant and healthy oil type you’ll want.
Feel free to use it as an alternative to animal oils for cooking and butter for spreading on toast.
It contains about 92% saturated fats all right, but is good for your energy supply needs. Oh, and that vanilla flavor. If you do hit the gym or workout anywhere else, you’ll need a substantial amount of saturated fats in your diet to provide the energy and vitality needed or risk losing more than your fitness and recovery ambitions.
Healthy levels of saturated fat in the body help, among other things, cushion your vital internal organs against shock– including your brain, heart, lungs and liver.
- Cod Liver Oil
Abundantly harvested in a variety of fish types such as tuna, cod liver oil is a rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids make up the majority of the 60% fatty matter in your brain.
Recent studies conclude that frequent intake of the nutrient increases your chances of fighting off cognitive degeneration conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia and boost overall brain function.
Use cod liver oil harvested from cold water fish and as an alternative to vegetable oil to help supply your body with the essential fatty acids it needs. The human body is pretty slow at naturally producing fatty acids, so supplementing your body with these is pretty health-smart.
However, cod liver oil largely comprises of polyunsaturated fats making it a very poor choice for cooking.
- Avocado Oil
These buttery and green fruits pack good amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E as well and will befriend your cardiovascular system.
Moreover, avocado oil tests positive for testosterone-boosting agents too. The higher your T-score the easier it becomes to gain and maintain a lean figure—and some good performances between the sheets for men, especially.
You can use avocado oil for certain salad dressings, adding to some soups and cooking at low to medium heat.
- Palm Oil
This oil type packs abundant vitamin E goodness.
Palm oil is deep with antioxidant and immune-boosting benefits and is also good for reproductive health. It can be used to add an earthy flavor to a selection of soups and salads.
- Vegetable and Nut Oils (not all)
Don’t cringe just yet.
Sunflower, corn, safflower, walnut and sesame oils are great alternatives to all-conquering olive oil—and come cheaper.
These vegetable and nut oils comprise 0 amount of cholesterol. So, anyone diagnosed with a cardio condition can get their serving of oils using these oils.
Walnut and sesame oils, for example, are good sources of .
Grapeseed oil in particular is made up of 72% polyunsaturated fats. It follows then that it can resist burning off at higher heat levels and still maintain its natural nutritional value and neutral flavor.
Watch out though because contrary to popular belief, seed oils tend to contain large amounts of Omega 6 fatty acids which hinder absorption of the more important Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty is a biologically active compound that’s harmful in plenty amounts.
Soybean oil in particular contains these polyunsaturated fats compound and some people report having allergic reactions to the oil type. Then there’s the problem of using polyunsaturated fats for cooking.
To aid with Omega-3 fatty acids absorption, eat together vitamin C rich supplements or fruit. One orange is enough.
- Canola Oil
Here is a controversial squeeze from canola plants.
“Discovered” to be fit for human consumption in the 1970s, Canola oil divides opinion like a kitchen dagger.
Some, including the AHA, term it as great oil for use for marinating, sautéing and frying. On the other hand, Canola oil (and its disgusting “purification” process) is believed to be the most popular genetically modified organism (GMO) oil.
If you are okay with this (I’m not), canola oil is great for your cooking.
The USDA reports that about 7% of the American diet is saturated with unhealthy oils. The above listed healthiest oils can serve you better. Also, remember to store your best oils in a cool, dark and dry place and always keep the container’s lid sealed shut.