Choosing a Healthy Cooking Oil

Making the right choice of cooking oil aids in maintaining healthy cholesterol levels

Most healthy cooking oil A lot of us are aware of the bad impact of high cholesterol on health. If you are among the informed public who have decided to lower cholesterol by proper diet, read on. The type of cooking oil you choose in preparing your meal matters a huge deal.

A lot of health authorities have affirmed the benefits of preparing one's own meal. Various studies have shown how eating out has contributed to a rise in diseases among people. The practice of preparing one's meal, on the other hand, is an effective means of regulating one's health, particularly the resulting levels of fat and cholesterol in the body.

Anne Nedrow, MD, associate professor of medicine at the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, reports that the bulk of dietary fat and cholesterol comes from commercially sold food. She adds that the majority of Americans simply must take in less saturated fat in their meals.

The challenge is that veteran chefs themselves are confounded with the different origins of fat (and their kinds) and cholesterol. The controversial marketing ballyhoo printed on labels of practically all sorts of food products add to the confusion.

The Four Fundamental Fats Found in Cooking Oils

There are four major kinds of fats that are in food products. These are saturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, monounsaturated fats, and trans-fatty acids (or "trans fats").

Saturated fats are often in solid form at room temperature. Examples of this include butter and lard.

Meanwhile, trans fats are the combination of hydrogen and vegetable oils. These sustain the taste and lengthen the shelf life of commercially sold products.

These two types of fat -- saturated and trans fats -- are the major origins of our dietary cholesterol. High amounts of these were associated to ailments such as stroke, heart disease, diabetes, and many others.

Dr. Nedrow dismally reports that around 11 to 12% of the calories in a typical American's diet come from saturated fats. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the proper level should only be 7% at most.

Palm oil, coconut oil, and palm kernel oil (dubbed "tropical oils"), as well as beef fat, lard, cocoa butter, chicken fat, butterfat, and Pacific salmon fat all contain at least 30% saturated fat. The darkest devil among them is coconut oil, which gives monstrous 92% saturated fat.

A lot of food products that many of us eat on a regular basis contain prohibitive amounts of saturated and trans fats. Among these products are cookies and crackers. Commercially sold baked products, including cakes, bread, and pies are also teeming with these bad fats.

The 'Good' Fats: Our Heroes in Cooking Oils

Nature is truly amazing, for while we have bad fats, there are good fats available to neutralize and combat their effects. Unsaturated fats -- monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats -- aid in decreasing the amount of cholesterol in the body. This is particularly true when they replace the use of bad, saturated fats. Cooking oils that contain these good fats include corn and olive oils. These good oils are normally in a liquid state at room temperature.

Good sources of good, unsaturated fat are seeds, nuts, avocados, and olives. If you want to prepare truly heart-friendly meals, it is best to use cooking oils that are produced from these ingredients. You could try making olive oil-based salad dressings. You could also prepare meat dishes like chicken sautéed in peanut or canola oil. Let the creative chef in you come out!

Two of the food products that create some contention in terms of health benefits are margarines and food spreads. These two are available in many different brands, and each of them has a different type and quantity of fat. Many of them are not much better choices than butter. To help solve your dilemma on what margarine or food spread to opt for, the AHA endorses products that declare liquid vegetable oil as the first ingredient on their label. Those that have two grams (the less, the better) of saturated fat for every tablespoon are recommended for good health.

Dr. Nedrow shares that only around 3% of the typical American diet is comprised of heart-friendly monounsaturated fats. This is in contrast to traditional Asian and Mediterranean diets which contain these fats in way higher values.

Keep in mind that all excessive things are bad. Moderate your use of cooking oils, for even heart-friendly ingredients could bring about a substantial increase in weight. Fats in general have more than twice the calories that carbohydrates or protein offer. "Fat is still very calorie-dense," Dr. Nedrow quips.

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By: PRANITHA 12 years ago

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