With more choices comes more confusion! One or two oils were used in cooking earlier but now we see dedicated sections for oils in supermarkets. People are perplexed over the choices and finally land in more trouble than before. Health and lifestyle shape our lives and the foods that you choose have a direct impact on heart health. Excluding unhealthy foods is important but even more important is including foods that are rich in nutrients. Nutrients doesn’t include only fruits, veggies and nuts but is an umbrella term for all macronutrients, micronutrients and food groups. People are even more confused when it comes to fats. Articles talk about healthy fats, trans fats and saturated fats that are unhealthy and advise people to include a portion of healthy fat each day. This has taken people by surprise as they wonder how fats can be differentiated as healthy or unhealthy. Understand the role of cholesterol in your life and how it can take away good health by visiting the website www.firsteatright.com.
Boils Down to Oil Use
Cooking includes adding ingredients, seasonings and spices but let me ask you a simple question. What’s the base on top of which all these are added? Its none other than oil! The choice of your oil can make or break your dish adding health or making it unhealthy. Replacing saturated and trans fat (bad fats) with polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats (healthier fats) is good for the heart. Experts suggest using non-tropical vegetable oils instead of solid fats such as butter or tropical oils such as palm oil. There has also been data showing that replacing saturated/trans fat with poly/monounsaturated fats resulted in a 29% dip in heart disease risk. When such are the advantages, why not choose the oils carefully and cook food accordingly to experience maximized benefits?
Given here is a complete list of cooking oils that contain ‘healthy’ fats in increased proportion compared to unhealthy fats:
Canola oil:This oil not only contains maximum quantity of unsaturated fats including omega-3 fats but also has the lowest level of saturated fat. A study published in a renowned journal showed that replacing saturated fats with canola oil reduces total cholesterol levels and LDL cholesterol levels. This oil is made from the rapeseed plants widely cultivated in Canada. It has a neutral flavor and can be used in different ways right from baking and frying to making sautéing and dressing salads.
Olive Oil: Of course, olive oil is healthy as it occupies a prominent role in Mediterranean diets and contains the high amounts of monounsaturated fats. This oil is obtained from the fruit of the olive tree, a tree commonly found in the Mediterranean regions. Refined or pure olive oil is better suited for cooking at high temperature (such as frying) than extra-virgin olive oil which starts to burn at increased temperatures. The oils are used for making pizzas, added to dips or used for frying and salad dressing depending on people’s choices.
Peanut Oil:This is the oil made from the nut of the peanut plant. Peanut oil is high in monounsaturated fats and low in saturated fats, but the same oil has been shown to clog arteries in animals. It contains more saturated fats compared to other healthy oils suggested yet this can be included in making dishes that require withstanding high heat.
Safflower Oil:Procured from the safflower plant this oil is used widely for cooking purpose. It’s said to contain chemicals that can thin blood and prevent a clot and also lower BP levels. On the whole, it is said to lower the risk of heart disease and cholesterol levels.
Soybean Oil:Soybean oil is extracted from the soybean plant and used to lower total cholesterol levels and LDL cholesterol levels. It contains essential fatty acids and promotes good health.
Sunflower Oil:Pressed from the seeds of the sunflower this oil is used to lower LDL cholesterol levels. It contains more of monounsaturated fats and vitamin E. This can withstand high heat and is often used for frying purpose.
A combination of any of these oils is what is sold as ‘vegetable’ oil. There are other oils such as avocado, rice bran and sesame which are also healthier, but the problem is that they are quite expensive and also not commonly found. A good rule of thumb is to choose oils that contain less than 4 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon and no partially hydrogenated oils or trans fats. Also, its better to explore the various oils mentioned here and taste them before finalizing on your day-to-day ones. Each of these have a distinct flavor and taste and the preference varies according to the individual’s choice. Enjoy a great dish made with any of these oils-use them in stir fries, drizzle over foods, make your salad dressing, season them, use them instead of butter and even bake foods with them.
AVOID FRAUD. EAT SMART.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.