Which cooking oil is best for your health?

Estimated read time 10 min read

Fat plays a vital role in our health. Appropriate intake of healthy fats can improve nutrient absorption, promote heart health, and help enhance the flavor and satiety of food. However, choosing the right type of fat, including cooking oil, is crucial. While some oils are better suited for high-heat cooking and may provide health benefits, some oils may be harmful to your health if used too frequently.

Here are some tips on cooking oils and how to choose the best one based on your personal needs and preferences.

Cooking oil
Cooking oil

olive oil

Olive Oil
Olive Oil

Olive oil is obtained by crushing, grinding and pitting olives. It’s rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, vitamin E, and polyphenol antioxidants, which promote health in a variety of ways.

Research shows that a diet rich in olive oil has many benefits, such as reducing the risk of common health conditions such as heart disease.

A diet rich in olive oil has been shown to prevent the development of atherosclerosis , considered the leading cause of heart disease. A diet rich in olive oil may also reduce your risk of heart disease by preventing and reducing other heart disease risk factors , such as high blood pressure and high blood fat levels.

2020 study

A 2020 study that included data from nearly 923,000 U.S. adults found that those who consumed more than ½ tablespoon of olive oil per day had a 14% lower risk of total heart disease compared with those who did not consume olive oil. The risk of coronary heart disease is 18% lower.

There are many types of olive oil to choose from, most of which are suitable for everyday medium-heat cooking. Virgin olives, including extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), are considered the highest quality because they are unrefined and richer in protective compounds like vitamin E and polyphenols than refined olive oils. Refined oils undergo a refining process that extends their shelf life and makes them more stable at higher temperatures, but also strips them of their protective nutrients. Extra virgin olive oil has a smoke point between 176 and 210 degrees Celsius, while refined olive oil has a smoke point between 198 and 243 degrees Celsius.

Olive oil is an excellent choice for most low-to-medium heat cooking methods. When purchasing olive oil, try to choose olive oil that comes in dark glass or opaque metal containers, as heat, oxygen, and light can affect the quality of the oil. Research shows that most olive oil products have a shelf life of between 12 and 18 months, but it’s a good idea to check the bottle’s exact “use by” date.

avocado oil

avocado oil
avocado oil

Avocado oil is another heart-healthy fat that makes it a great choice for cooking. Avocado oil is made from the oil extracted from ripe avocado fruits. Like olive oil, most of the fat in avocado oil is monounsaturated, which has been linked to heart-healthy benefits, such as supporting healthy blood lipid levels.

Avocado oil is rich in vitamin E, as well as plant compounds such as polyphenols, proanthocyanidins, and carotenoids, all of which are powerful antioxidants that help protect cells from oxidative damage. Although there are more studies investigating the effects of olive oil on human health, limited evidence suggests that adding avocado oil to the diet may have anti-inflammatory effects and may help prevent heart disease by lowering LDL cholesterol levels.

Like olive oil, you can buy unrefined or refined avocado oil, the latter of which is best for high-heat cooking methods like frying and baking. Both refined and unrefined avocado oil have higher smoke points than olive oil, at 250 degrees Celsius and 271 degrees Celsius respectively.

When purchasing avocado oil, it’s important to choose a product made from 100% avocado oil, as many avocado oils contain cheaper oils such as avocado oil and soybean oil. Like olive oil, avocado oil is sensitive to light, so it’s best to choose avocado oil products that come in dark glass or opaque metal containers.

According to research, the shelf life of avocados stored at room temperature is approximately 210 days.

sesame oil

sesame oil
sesame oil

If you’re looking for a delicious oil for medium-heat cooking, try sesame oil. Sesame oil is derived from roasted or raw sesame seeds, which are tiny seeds that are rich in vitamins, minerals, healthy fats and plant proteins.

Sesame oil is a good source of healthy fats, including monounsaturated fats, as well as antioxidants like sesamin and sesamin, all of which contribute to sesame oil’s health benefits. Studies show that consuming sesame oil can help reduce heart disease risk factors such as LDL cholesterol and may also promote healthy blood sugar levels.

A 2022 review of 12 studies found that compared with control treatments, consuming sesame oil significantly reduced fasting blood glucose levels, inflammatory markers, blood pressure and levels of hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), a marker of long-term blood sugar control.

Unrefined sesame oil has a smoke point of 176 degrees Celsius, while refined sesame oil has a smoke point of 232 degrees Celsius, similar to olive oil. Sesame oil has a nutty and earthy flavor and is widely used in Asian dishes such as stir-fries and noodles.

When purchasing sesame oil, choose sesame oil products that come in dark or opaque containers to protect the oil from light and temperature fluctuations.

Cooking oils to limit or avoid

Although your diet is of paramount importance when it comes to overall health and disease prevention. It is recommend to prioritize healthier fats, such as the oils listed above, while minimizing intake of less healthy oils and foods made with them .

Highly refined vegetable oil

Highly refined oils such as canola, corn, and soybean oil undergo a refining process. To extend their shelf life and give them a more neutral color and flavor. This process includes bleaching and deodorizing, which removes the beneficial compounds in the oil. Such as polyphenol antioxidants and vitamin E.

Additionally, some vegetable oils, such as corn oil and soybean oil, contain higher levels of polyunsaturated fats. Which are susceptible to a process called oxidation when exposed to very high temperatures. Oxidation is a reaction between fat and oxygen that produces harmful compounds called free radicals. These oils are often use in fried foods and are often heat repeatedly. Which makes these oils more susceptible to oxidation. Compounds produced during oxidation can cause cell damage and harm overall health. Which is why it is recommend to reduce the intake of fried foods.

Repeatedly heat

In fact, research shows that regular consumption of repeatedly heated vegetable oils may increase inflammation and harm heart health by increasing blood pressure, cholesterol, and inflammation of blood vessels.

These vegetable oils are also much higher in omega-6 fats than healthier oils like olive oil. Although omega-6 fats are necessary for health. Most Americans’ diets are too high in omega-6 fats and too low in omega-3 fats. This imbalance causes inflammation in the body and is linked to many health conditions. Such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Unfortunately, these oils make up a large part of most people’s diets. As they are often use to fry foods and are add to many products, from sandwich bread to salad dressings.

While there’s no need to completely avoid highly refined oils. Consuming them too regularly can be harmful to your health. So it’s best to limit vegetable oils like corn and soy oils. And blends in favor of oils with health benefits like olive oil.

low smoke point oil

In addition to choosing healthier fats for cooking, it’s important to avoid oils like flax oil that aren’t suitable for cooking. Some oils have very low smoke points, which means they should not be heat. Refine fats like flax oil are best use as garnishing oils. And in dishes like salad dressings because they have a low smoke point.

For example, flax oil has a smoke point of only 102 degrees Celsius, making it unsuitable for cooking.

Oils with low smoke points also include fish oil, walnut oil, and pumpkin seed oil. Exposing these oils to high temperatures can cause damage and produce harmful compounds that can negatively impact health.

If you’re not sure whether an oil is suitable for cooking, check the product label. Manufacturers often list the smoke point of the oil. And share the best cooking methods for the oil to ensure proper use.

Factors to consider when choosing cooking oil

When purchasing cooking oil, there are several things to keep in mind, including:

Smoke Point : It’s a good idea to have a range of oils in your kitchen for different cooking methods. For example, extra virgin olive oil is a good choice for low to medium heat cooking. While avocado oil is suitable for high heat cooking methods like frying and baking.

Flavor : Some oils have a more unique flavor than others. For example, sesame oil has a rich, nutty flavor that pairs well with some recipes but overpowers others. If you want a milder flavor, choose avocado oil or olive oil.

Price: Unrefined oils, such as premium olive and avocado oils, tend to be more expensive than refined oils. That said, there are plenty of affordable olive and avocado oil options in the market. So it’s best to shop around until you find one that fits your budget.

You also need to consider dietary preferences when purchasing cooking oil. For example, if you like to eat organically, it’s best to choose certified organic oils. Additionally, it is recommend to purchase oils in dark or opaque containers. Which will protect the oil from light and help maintain its quality.

How to use cooking oils in your diet

Although fats are often demonize for their high calorie content, they are vital to health and should not be feare. Keep in mind that although the Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range (AMDR) for fat is between 20% and 35% of total energy intake. Research shows that high-fat diets, like low-carbohydrate diets, are safe. That can Provides health benefits such as weight loss and lowered blood sugar levels.

If you’re not sure how much fat you should be eating each day. It’s a good idea to work with a healthcare provider or professional. Such as a registered dietitian, who can help you choose the best macronutrients for your specific needs.

Here are some ideas for incorporating cooking oils into your diet:

  • Adding sesame oil to stir-fries and noodles adds flavor
  • Use avocado oil for higher-heat cooking methods, such as frying
  • Cook eggs in olive oil for a healthy way to start your day
  • Add oil a little bit to soups and stews

To make sure you always have the right cooking oil in hand. Stock your pantry with a variety of healthy oils. Just be sure to protect them from light and heat. Use them by the “best before” date listed on the product label.

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