Cooking Oils: The Good And Bad

Can you differentiate good cooking oils from the bad? If you do, Congrats! You’ve obviously done your research, and you probably consume oils that are healthy for your heart and your waistline. For those who need to brush up on their cooking oil facts, here is a comparison of many common cooking oils, along with reasons why they should be added to – or removed from – your diet.

Olive Oil
Olive oil’s good reputation comes from its effect on cholesterol ratios.When used in moderation, olive oil raises the levels of good cholesterol and lowers bad cholesterol levels. Dieters who want to add a little fat to their diet without endangering their heart health are often told to use olive oil in their cooking.

Canola Oil
This popular cooking oil hails from Canada, and is widely regarded as a heart-healthy choice. Canola is rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. It is also very low in saturated fat, making it heart, and diet, friendly. One word of caution: heating canola oil to a temperature above 120 degrees may convert some of its fatty acids to trans fats. Use it at lower temperatures for maximum health benefits.

Sunflower Oil
Sunflower oil is the worst of the best cooking oils for dieters. It is high in Vitamin E and omega-6 fatty acids, but it is also typically refined and hydrogenated to extend its shelf life. Sunflower oil holds up well to heat, making it a popular cooking oil.

Peanut Oil
Compared to other vegetable-based cooking oils, peanut oil is fairly high in saturated fat. However, these fats don’t turn to trans fats at regular cooking temperatures, so peanut oil is still a decent choice for health-seekers.

Corn Oil
Corn oil is an old standby, but it is by no means among the healthiest choices. The problem with corn oil is the processing it usually goes through. Corn oil is typically highly processed and hydrogenated. Corn oil is nutritious, and has been shown to lower cholesterol levels – both good and bad. You could do better than corn oil, but you could also do worse.

Cottonseed Oil
You might be surprised to see how many processed foods contain cottonseed oil. Cottonseed oil is not a great choice for dieters. The oil comes from cotton plants which are frequently sprayed with harmful chemicals that can sometimes linger in the oil. This is also a delicate oil, so it is often hydrogenated to make it longer-lasting.

Palm Kernel Oil
Palm kernel oil is used by many food processors, especially in cereals and sweets. It gets low marks for its saturated fat content and for shady marketing tactics. Many foods that contain palm kernel oil are labeled as “cholesterol free”. While this might be technically true, the high amount of saturated fat in palm kernel oil can have a detrimental effect on cholesterol levels. Avoid it whenever you can.

Coconut Oil
Coconut oil has the Unfair distinction of being the world’s most unhealthy natural cooking oil. Coconut oil can lower cholesterol as a direct result of its ability to stimulate the thyroid. Coconut oil primarily consists of medium-chain fatty acids that has an effective energy value of  @6.8 calories per gram rather than 9 calories per gram, making it a good  choice for anyone who wants to lose weight and protect their heart. Refined, bleached and hydrogenated coconut oil will not produce beneficial effects. These chemical processes strip the oil of its naturally occurring nutrients and should be avoided.

As you can see, all cooking oils are not created equal. Some promote weight loss and lower your cholesterol, while others can be downright harmful to your health. Feel free to use this newsletter as a starting point, and research other cooking oils to find the one that best suits your needs – and your taste.

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