What’s the healthiest cooking oil to use for your holiday meals?
During this holiday season busy families everywhere are planning or having festive feasts.
Holidays are a time to celebrate — but that doesn’t have to mean ignoring your health. Using the healthiest cooking oil can help you and your family eat better this season. Here are a few tips for choosing the right oil.
Replace saturated fats with unsaturated fats
According to the American Heart Association (AHA) the healthiest oils for cooking include unsaturated fats. For optimal cardiovascular health experts recommended replacing saturated and trans fats with unsaturated fats either monounsaturated or polyunsaturated.
Most plant oils — including canola peanut olive corn safflower soybean and sunflower — are a source of unsaturated fat the AHA noted. Saturated fats like butter margarine shortening and lard and tropical oils like coconut or palm are typically solid at room temperature and are best used in moderation. Polyunsaturated fats are also found in sunflower soybean safflower and corn oils as well as in flaxseeds walnuts and fish. Monounsaturated fats are present in avocados olives and many nuts and seeds.
Focus on omega-3 and omega-6 oils
According to the University of California at Berkeley omega-3 fatty acids are heart-healthy polyunsaturated fats that are often found in fish and some plants. Omega-6 fatty acids are a different type of polyunsaturated fat which is typically found in vegetable oils like corn sunflower safflower and soybean.
While a high omega-3 intake has been touted as heart-protective and anti-inflammatory Berkeley explained that the evidence isn’t clear on the ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats. What is clear they say is that most people could use a boost in their omega-3 intake.
Flaxseed and canola oils are typically the highest in omega-3 fatty acids while avocado olive and sesame oils are typically lowest in omega-6. If you want to boost your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio stick with these oils.
Use the right oil for the job
The Cleveland Clinic emphasized the importance of using the right oil for the right purpose. That means knowing the smoke point of an oil or the temperature at which it begins to smoke and produce free radicals and toxic fumes.
Light-colored olive oil as well as sunflower avocado hazelnut and almond oils all have a high smoke point which make them good for recipes that require searing and browning the clinic explained. Medium-high smoke point options (like canola grapeseed light virgin olive oil and peanut oil) are more suitable for oven cooking baking or stir-frying. For lower-heat baking light sauteing and sauces try corn sesame soybean hemp and pumpkin seed oils. Flaxseed oil wheat germ and walnut oil are best used without any heat at all in dressings or dips.
When deciding which oils to use for cooking it helps to consider the heat level that each dish requires. There’s no single healthiest cooking oil but understanding the difference between the options is a great step toward a better diet.
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