A small amount of fat is required for the healthy functioning of the body. Cooking oil and fats supply calories and essential fats and help your body to absorb fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K. The type of fat is as important for health as the total amount of fat consumed. That’s why it’s important to choose healthier fats. Eating too much and the wrong kinds of fats, such as saturated and trans fats, may raise unhealthy LDL (bad) cholesterol and lower healthy HDL (Good) cholesterol. This imbalance can increase your risk of heart issues like high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), heart attack and stroke.
There are many types of oil to choose but which oils are best for each task and best for your heart matters. There are so many different types of oils is because they can be extracted from a wide range of seeds, nuts, legumes, plant fruits, and grains. E.g. sunflower seeds, walnuts, soybeans, olives and grains like rice can all be used to produce vegetable oils. The healthiest oils are those which mostly contain heart-healthy poly- and mono-unsaturated fats. Foods that are rich in these heart-healthy fats like nuts, seeds, avocado, olives, and vegetable oils help to reduce levels of harmful cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein – LDL) in the blood.
In comparison, palm oil and coconut oil are high in saturated fat which increases LDL cholesterol and risk of heart disease. In recent years, coconut oil has become more popular and although using small amounts to add flavor is ok, it’s a good idea to choose another oil like olive oil as the main cooking oil.
Monounsaturated fats help improve blood cholesterol levels. They are found in Canola Oil, Olive oil, Peanut oil, Avocados, and some nuts (almonds, pistachios, cashews, pecans, and hazelnuts).
Polyunsaturated fats help to lower bad cholesterol levels (LDL cholesterol). Omega-3 is one type, which can help prevent clotting of blood, reducing the risk of stroke and also helps lower triglycerides, a type of blood fat linked to heart disease. The best sources of omega-3 fats are cold-water fish (mackerel, sardines, herring, rainbow trout and salmon), Canola and soybean oil, eggs, flaxseeds, walnuts, pine nuts.
Another type of polyunsaturated fat is omega-6. It helps lower LDL cholesterol, but in large amounts, it’s thought to also lower the good HDL cholesterol. Eat it in moderation. It is found in safflower, sunflower and corn oils, non-hydrogenated margarine and nuts such as almonds, pecans, brazil nuts, and sunflower seeds. It is also in many prepared meals.
So choose your cooking oil wisely and take care of your heart!