They say don’t judge a book by its cover. The same is true with food. Sometimes the foods we eat may seem healthy, such as baked chicken or fish and sautéed vegetables, but the type of oils used to cook these foods may contain unhealthy fats that increase cholesterol and blood pressure. There are, however, many types of cooking oils that contain the healthier fats and these are better for your heart.
One way to replace unhealthy fats with a healthier option is by looking for nontropical vegetable oils. According to the American Heart Association, these cooking oils contain the healthier fats that are desirable in cooking oils:
To better understand which cooking oils to choose while standing in the grocery store aisle, take a deeper look into “bad” fats versus “good” fats.
The “bad” fats
- include saturated fats which are mostly contained in dairy items (milk, cheese, yogurt, etc). These fats increase overall cholesterol levels, specifically LDL, or “bad” cholesterol. Highly saturated fats are also found in plant-based products such as coconut oil, palm oil, and palm kernel oil.
- Another “bad” fat to avoid is trans fats. To eliminate trans fats from your diet, read the ingredient list and stay away from foods that contain hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils. Trans fats contribute to clogged arteries which are a sign of heart disease; they increase your risk of both heart attack and stroke. Oils with trans fat are found in margarine or vegetable shortening.
The “good” fats
- include monounsaturated fats like avocados, olives, and nuts. Try and use olive oil for cooking and canola oil for baking. Monounsaturated fats reduce cholesterol levels. It is recommended to consume this fat to improve a blood lipid profile, lowering the risk of heart attack and stroke.
- Another “good” fat is polyunsaturated fats. These fats are packed with Omega-3 and can be found in oils such as corn oil and soybean oil. Polyunsaturated fats reduce bad cholesterol levels in your blood and can lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.
There are plenty of ways to use oils. You can create your own salad dressing, marinades, dips and sauces. They can be used to grill, sauté, stir fry, bake or roast foods. Drizzling these oils on food gives them a little extra flavor, or on a food pan to keep from sticking