The Best and Worst Oils For Your Health
1. Olive Oil
The famously healthy Mediterranean diet includes olive oil as a key ingredient. It is great for drizzled on pastas and salads. Palumbo states that extra-virgin olive oils are her favourite oil. Virgin olive oils are those in which the oil has been extracted without using chemicals, and extra virgin is the highest grade, according to Berkeley Wellness at the University of California. Palumbo says that "Extra-virgin Olive Oil" contains over 30 different phenolic substances, a group which includes many phytochemicals with blood vessel-expanding and anti-inflammatory actions.
A particular phytochemical, which research has shown to be protective against Alzheimer's disease, is receiving a lot attention. Palumbo says, "CERTAIN types of extra virgin olive oil contain an natural anti-inflammatory compound named oleocanthal." It can be tasted in olive oil as a mild peppery flavor in your mouth.
It is also good for your heart. She says that extra-virgin olive oils contain higher levels of monounsaturated healthy fats than other oils. According to MedlinePlus, monounsaturated fat can help lower your LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels. In a February 2017 study, Circulation published a report that showed that eating primarily Mediterranean foods and consuming 4 tbsp of virgin olive oil daily helped increase HDL (good) cholesterol.
It can be used in sauteed dishes or baked goods. However, olive oil is not suitable for deep-frying. Beth Warren, RD of New York City and author Living a Real Life. Last, don't believe the common myth that heating olive oil ruins its polyphenol content, according to a study published in January 2020 in Antioxidants. Some polyphenols may be destroyed by cooking, but enough remain to give their health benefits.
2. Canola Oil
Canola oil is low in saturated fat (only 7%) and high-in monounsaturated fat (like olive oil). It also contains high levels of polyunsaturated fat, according to Berkeley.
Still, it has been questionable whether canola oils are healthy. According to the Harvard T.H. According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, there is one major concern about the solvent, hexane. It's used to extract oil in rapeseed oil to make canola oil. There are also fears that it could be toxic. The final oil contains only trace amounts of hexane. A concern about trans fat in canola oils is also present. Harvard states that these low levels of trans fat are not different than other vegetable oils.
Levinson says that canola oil is more suitable for high heat cooking such as baking and frying. It has a lower smoke point than olive oils and a neutral taste. Warren warns against using canola oil in salad dressings, or any other dish where you need the oil to impart flavor.
3. Flaxseed Oil
Palumbo explains that flaxseed oils are a great source of alpha linolenic, an omega-3 form of fatty acids. Mount Sinai says that other types of omega-3 fatty acids are also available in fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines.
In addition to their benefits for your ticker, omega-3s, a type of polyunsaturated fat that your body cannot produce on its own, may lower your risk for certain types of cancer, according to the MD Anderson Cancer Center. Flaxseed oil in particular may help reduce symptoms of arthritis, according to the Arthritis Foundation.
A bonus? Mount Sinai says flaxseed oils contain omega-6 fat acids which can also be beneficial for your health. A study published in May 2019 in the AHA journal Circulation found that higher levels of omega-6 fatty acids were linked to lower odds of heart disease, stroke, and early death.
Harvard Health Publishing has stated that omega-6s can be harmful to your health.
Don't heat this oil, as doing so can disrupt the fatty acid content, according to research. Warren suggests that you use the oil in cold dishes such as smoothies or salads. Palumbo recommends that you drizzle it over whole grain greens, salads, and marinades.
4. Avocado Oil
If you love avocados, why not give avocado oil a try? Levinson states that both avocado oil, and avocados are full of healthy monounsaturated oils.
According to a review published in Molecules in June 2019, avocado oil is high in nutritional value, both at low temperatures and high. Levinson says that avocado oil is more suitable for high-heat cooking because it has a lower smoke point than olive oils. Sara Haas RD (Chicago-based chef and spokesperson of the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) says that it can be used to stir-fry, sautee, and sear. Levinson recommends avocado oil for baking due to its neutral flavor.
5. Walnut Oil
Levinson says Walnut oil can be a healthy option and is rich in omega-3 fatty acid, particularly alpha-linolenic.
Walnut oil has an unrefined smoke point and should be avoided when cooking. Levinson says that walnut oil has a rich and nutty taste and can be used to flavor enhance a dish or as salad dressing. Warren says walnut oil works well in desserts, and any other recipe that requires a strong nutty flavour.
6. Sesame Oil
Sesame oil is a staple ingredient in Asian and Indian cuisines. It's on the AHA list of healthy cooking oils.
Levinson states that sesame oil, another unsaturated fat, is also available. According to Cureus, a July 2017 review found that sesame oil had anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and potential for lowering the risk of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. This is caused by the accumulation of fat in the walls of the arteries, which causes them to shrink and increases blood pressure.
Levinson states that sesame oil has a high smoke level, so it's good for cooking high-heat dishes like stir-frying. But, she says it also tastes great in marinades and sauces. Palumbo, who is also a big fan of sesame, says that she has a small bottle in her fridge that imparts a sweet, nuanced flavor to stir fries and marinades.
7. Grapeseed Oil
Warren says that grapeseed oil has low saturated fat and a high smoke point which make it an excellent choice for cooking and grilling. You can use it in salad dressings and drizzled on roasted vegetables for a mild, nutty flavor.
Grapeseed oil is rich in omega-6 polyunsaturated fat acids, similar to flaxseed oil. Grapeseed oil also contains vitamin E, which acts like an antioxidant to help fight free radicals and is a key vitamin for immune system support, according to the National Institutes of Health. According to the USDA, 1 tbsp of grapeseed oil is an excellent source of vitamin E.
8. Sunflower Oil
Sunflower oil, another approved cooking oil by AHA, is rich in unsaturated fats but low in saturated fat. Studies show that sunflower oil is better than oil rich in saturated fat. This could help lower LDL cholesterol levels and reduce triglyceride.
Like grapeseed oil, 1 tbsp of sunflower oil is an excellent source of vitamin E, according to the USDA.
There are 3 oils to limit or avoid
1. Coconut Oil
The controversy surrounding this oil has been raised. According to an article published in September 2016 in Ghana Medical Journal, coconut oil, which is solid at room temperature, is composed of roughly 90 percent saturated fat - but some believe that not all saturated fats are equivalent. Warren states that coconut oil is not as saturated as the red meat saturated fats, which can cause clogging of your arteries. She adds that coconut oil contains a lot of medium-chain fat acids. These are more difficult to absorb and convert into stored fat. Another perk: A study published in March 2018 in BMJ Open found that the oil significantly increased HDL cholesterol levels, although not all studies have come to this same conclusion.
That said, coconut oil may also raise your LDL cholesterol levels, according to a study published in January 2020 in Circulation, and that isn't good news for your ticker. Kimberly Gomer, RD director of nutrition at Pritikin Longevity Centre in Miami, says that it would be hard to lower your LDL cholesterol levels by eating a lot coconut oil.
Coconut oil can be used in cooking and baking. However, it is recommended by the Cleveland Clinic that this coconut oil use should not exceed the limits of saturated fats.
2. Petroleum Partially Hydrogenated oils
The primary source of unhealthy trans fats in a person's diet is partially hydrogenated oil, which can be found in processed foods, according to the AHA. This industrial process adds hydrogen and other vegetable oils to create artificial trans fats.
FDA determined that trans fats were so harmful to health, and manufacturers had until January 2020 to remove them from all their products. Warren states that partially hydrogenated oils should be eliminated from your diet. In the United States however, you can't buy food with less than 0.5 grams (g) of trans fat, a company can label it 0 g of trans fat, according to the Mayo Clinic, and those small amounts of trans fat can quickly add up if you're not careful. Check the ingredients for "partially hydrogenated vegetable oils" to determine if they are in your product.
Palumbo recommends people to avoid trans-fatty acids in partially hydrogenated oils. Palumbo says that although they can prolong a product’s shelf life, trans fatty acids are harmful for human health.
3. Palm Oil
Research has shown that palm oil contains roughly the same amount of saturated fat as unsaturated fat. Harvard Health Publishing found that palm oil, which is semi-solid at room temperature when it's warm, is often used to replace partially hydrogenated oils in processed foods. That's not necessarily harmful, since it contains less saturated and trans fats than butter.
Palm oil should not be used for cooking. You can use less saturated fat oils. The American Diabetes Association recommends that people suffering from diabetes pay attention to how much they are consuming in saturated fat.
According to the World Wildlife Fund there are ethical concerns about palm oil use. Palm oil production is often linked with unjust work practices and deforestation.