Healthy Oils for Cooking – Know Your Choices
Consumers have read many reports on the importance of healthy fats in their diet, and the dangers of trans fats. However, many people may find the marketing of these products and range of choices confusing. A closer look at some healthy oils will help you to navigate the complicated range of oils on your supermarket shelves so you can choose those that are highest in monosaturated fats for overall good health.
Olive oil is probably the best-known healthy fat because of the popularity of the “Mediterranean diet” that is associated with healthier aging and longer lifespan. Olive oil is pressed from the fruit of olive trees and is available in a number of grades. “Extra-virgin” olive oil comes from the first pressing of the olives. “Virgin” olive oil is the second pressing. Third and later pressings may require additional processing to be suitable for use. Olive oil contains both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, phenolic compounds and vitamin E, which are all recommended for good health. However, olive oil is high in calories and should be used sparingly when managing weight.
Canola oil is pressed from oil rapeseed, a plant that is part of the cruciferous family of vegetables. Canola oil contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that are necessary for good health, vitamin E and plant sterols. Although high in calories, the calories are from healthy fats that aid in cardiovascular function.
Peanut oil imparts a nutty, sweet taste to foods and is low in saturated fat. It contains omega-6 fatty acids, plant sterols, vitamin E and an antioxidant called resveratol that can help to cut the risk of strokes. Peanut oil is a good choice for deep-frying of foods because it can be heated to a higher temperature before smoking and will absorb less fat into foods.
Another healthy oil that is often recommended by nutritional experts is flaxseed oil. Though it is a little harder to find, it is worth the effort in terms of nutritional benefit. Flaxseed oil is made from pressing the seeds of the flax plant. The oil is high in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and vitamin E. It is associated with high cholesterol and cardiovascular problems. It may also be helpful in reducing stiffness and inflammation from arthritis. Flaxseed oil can interact a number of medications. You should consult your physician before using it in your daily cooking if you take medication on a regular basis.
Grapeseed oil, pressed from the seed of ordinary grapes, is high in plant sterols and reservatrol, a health promoting antioxidant, omega-3 fatty acid and omega-6 fatty acid. And vitamin E. It is said to promote healthy cholesterol, good vascular function and can help protect against cancer.
Sunflower oil is made by pressing the seeds of the sunflower. For vitamin E, vitamin B1, magnesium, selenium and manganese, sunflower oil is a good choice. It also contains plant sterols to aid in cardiovascular function and lower cholesterol. It is also high in omega-6 fatty acids.