Cooking with Oil—Which is Better?

October 15, 2012 at 3:29 pm Leave a comment


A common tip for healthier cooking is to cook with oil.  Cooking oils promote heart health since they do not contain Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL), which is the “bad” cholesterol contributing to heart attacks and strokes.  Many oils are also a good source of unsaturated fat, which is often referred to as the “good” fat.  With the variety of oils to choose from, how do you decide which oil you should use?  It depends on what you’re cooking and what benefits you’re hoping to achieve. Let’s take a look at the differences in a few examples:

Canola Oil– Some studies show it improves High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) in the blood, which is the “good” cholesterol that helps protect against the negative effects of LDL cholesterol.  It has a higher smoke point, which means it can withstand higher temperatures.  That makes this oil a good choice for frying.

Olive Oil has been known to reduce inflammation in the body, decrease LDL cholesterol, and to stabilize rhythms of the heart muscle.  Although this oil has a better flavor, it also has a low smoke point and is not ideal for frying.

Soybean Oil includes Omega-3 Fatty Acids, which are especially important in heart health.  Omega-3 FA are known to help reduce triglycerides, which are a type of fat in the blood that can contribute to the hardening and narrowing of arteries leading to the risk of heart attack and stroke.  This oil has a smoke point recommended for stir fry.

Extra Virgin, Pure, or Light? The main difference is how the oil is extracted and processed.  Extra virgin olive oil, for example, is considered the highest quality because it has the strongest flavor.  It is recommended for salad dressings or for bread dips.  However, if you are baking or cooking with olive oil where a strong flavor is not desired or needed, the pure or light olive oil would be appropriate.

While the nutrition benefits may differ from the different types of oils, it is still important to remember that oil is fat.  Good or bad, fat is dense in calories.  1g of fat equals ~9 calories.  A little bit goes a long way.  The recommendation is to aim for about five teaspoons of oil per day.

*Sources: LiveStrong.com, ChooseMyPlate.gov*

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Entry filed under: Diabetes, Diet/Nutrition, Health, Healthy Lifestyle. Tags: , , , , , , .

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