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Healthy Oils Eating At Home And Out?

by Outlook Health
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Most people have a notion that eating fatty meals is always an unhealthy lifestyle choice as it would contribute to high cholesterol levels that are risky for heart health and overall well-being. Well, the fact is that all fats or oils in food are not bad. It is essential to consume certain oils and fats having essential fatty acids, particularly omega 3s and omega 6s. This is because these fatty acids are found in every cell structure of the body. Their role is to reduce inflammation, lower hypertension, and decrease bad cholesterol as well as be the building blocks for hormones. Not only this, but oils also provide satiety and taste.

So, it’s good to be cautious about what oils one must consume to remain healthy. Knowing which are the right kind of oils to use is much easier when cooking food at home but a little trickier when eating food outside as one must be unaware of which oils have been used and as it is outside food one has no control over it. Picking the healthiest oils can play a part in deciding on a daily eating plan.

Still, figuring out the best healthy oils to eat at home and when outside? Keep reading to know what dieticians and nutritionists say in this regard. [1]

Healthy Vs Unhealthy Oils

Generally, the healthiest oils are plant-based and in liquid form at room temperature while the unhealthy oils come in a semi-solid state and have more saturated fats. The intake of unhealthy oils can raise the levels of bad, low-density cholesterol which can increase the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Some of the oils that fall under the category of healthy oils include olive oil, canola oil, soybean oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, and safflower oil. On the other side, unhealthy oils examples include palm oil, butter, coconut oil, and lard.

The fats present in foods are composed of a combination of fatty acids that could be either saturated or unsaturated. Researchers have shown that unsaturated fats that are liquid at room temperature are healthier than saturated fats that are solid at room temperature. As unsaturated fats can withstand high temperatures, they are chosen as cooking oils.

As per a recent review article published in 2022, when cooking oils (primarily those rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids) are heated beyond their smoke point or repeatedly heated, the oil starts burning which destroys the beneficial nutrients in it and releases free radicals which when inhaled or ingested can increase the chances of having chronic diseases.

In addition, grocery stores sell two kinds of oils- refined and unrefined. Refined oils are processed with chemicals and heat. They have higher smoke points, meaning they can tolerate high cooking temperatures. However, the unrefined oils (virgin oils) are not processed and have low smoking points. They contain a higher amount of polyphenols-the powerful antioxidants. So, which one is healthy? Well, healthier ones are the unrefined oils. [1,3]

Eating Fatty Foods At Home And Eating Them Outside

If eating food at home, people have the choice to use healthy oils for cooking their food. Whether using oil for salad dressing, sautéing, or frying, people have full control of all the factors, and the amount of oil that has been used is also not a concern. The concern of eating unhealthy fats or having too much of it is more when people more often eat outside oily or fried foods.

Usually, the oil used for making fried foods outside is not changed timely. It is repeatedly re-heated which results in the formation of trans fats. When this fat is consumed, it can cause inflammation inside the body, which can lead to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and even result in the breakdown of the cell membranes. Occasionally eating fried foods is not at all harmful to the body. [1]

Top Healthiest Oils Options

Most of the healthiest oils contain higher amounts of essential vitamins and monosaturated fats. They can be used for healthy cooking and even make the food taste better. Here are the top 10 healthy oils:

  1. Extra virgin olive oil- It has a lower smoke point and oxidation rate, meaning it releases few free radicals. It contains Vitamin E- an antioxidant that helps fight inflammation within the body and prevent cancer and heart disease.
  2. Almond oil- It is packed with vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, copper, and magnesium. It is a rich source of antioxidants and has proven to reduce oxidative stress, improve heart health, encourage neuroprotection, and maintain stable blood sugar levels.
  3. Avocado oil- Is rich in antioxidants and oleic acid- a monosaturated omega-9 fatty acid.
  4. Sesame oil- This oil contains heart-healthy fat (i.e. antioxidants) and even helps protect against neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
  5. Flaxseed oil- It is rich in essential fatty acids like omega-3 alpha-linoleic acids which are known to be related to lower lipid profile and lower blood pressure.
  6. Safflower oil- When used in moderation, it can help increase good HDL cholesterol, reduce inflammatory markers, and improve insulin sensitivity.
  7. Walnut oil- It contains more naturally produced antioxidants, unsaturated fatty acids, minerals, and polyphenols. Evidence suggests that it can aid in blood sugar control, reduce inflammation, and minimize the risk of cancers. [2]

Which Oils to Avoid?

One must steer clear of oils that are high in trans fats and saturated fats and those that can raise the levels of bad LDL cholesterol. Such oils are majorly found in lot many processed foods as they tend to be solid at room temperature and longer shelf life. Here are the most common unhealthy oils that must not be bought for consumption purposes:

  • Palm oil- Vast majority of fats in such oil are less healthy medium-chain triglycerides-the saturated fats that raise bad cholesterol levels.
  • Vegetable shortening- These are typically composed of partially hydrogenated and hydrogenated vegetable oils such as cotton seed, corn, or soybean oils.
  • Coconut oil- It is a 90 percent saturated fat found to raise bad LDL cholesterol.[2,3]

References:

  1. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/healthy-oils-at-home-and-when-eating-out-202204122724
  2. https://www.realsimple.com/health/nutrition-diet/healthiest-cooking-oil
  3. https://www.insider.com/guides/health/diet-nutrition/healthiest-cooking-oil

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