Despite what you may believe fats and oils have their place in a balanced, healthy diet. It’s all about knowing the types to use.
There are some oils, like hydrogenated types that can contribute to heart disease, cancer and stroke, but other types like olive and coconut oil, are useful in helping to reduce blood pressure, cholesterol levels, as well as your risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Plant oils deliver far more heart-healthy benefits than solid fats like butter.
Olive oil is something that should be used in your diet because of the high level of monounsaturated fatty acids, these help to boost the good cholesterol our body needs and regulate the bad cholesterol that we need to control.
Fighting inflammation is important for our overall health, and oils like walnut, avocado, olive, flaxseed and coconut are all known to have anti-inflammatory benefits.
Healthy oils you need to use in your diet
It’s also important to note that different oils have different smoke points, the temperature at which it begins to break down, losing nutritional value and releasing potential carcinogens. It’s important that you avoid heating oil beyond its some point because it can create toxic fumes and free radicals that can harm your body.
Olive has quite a low smoking point, so it’s best to use this chilled or at room temperature. If it exceeds 200 degrees you'll lose the flavour, as well as altering the fatty acid chains.
But enough about the bad points, it contains more monounsaturated fatty acids than any other natural oil and it’s so easy on the digestion that it even has a beneficial, calming effect on stomach ulcers.
Use it on salads, add to cooked pasta dishes and drizzle over risotto. And if you’re wondering whether to opt for standard, virgin or extra virgin olive oil, go for extra if you can. Although there isn’t a huge amount of nutritional difference between the different types (extra virgin contains more antioxidants), the main difference is in the superior flavour.
Avocado oil’s smoke point is an incredibly high 510 degrees, which makes it a safer option for high-heat cooking like frying and broiling.
It’s also rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, which lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and raise good cholesterol (HDL).
Coconut oil has quite a high smoking point, so it’s great for using in cooking like baking, frying, sautéing and deep frying.
Not only that, it has a huge number of health benefits; it increases energy thanks to what it’s made up being transported directly to the liver where it’s converted to energy. It helps to fight infection, normalise brain function and decrease hunger.
Daily consumption of coconut oil has been shown to help with weight loss too, particularly around the midsection. By regulating appetite and improving digestion, coconut oil can make it much easier to reduce your daily calorie intake and lose weight at a healthy rate.
Just remember that coconut oil is high in calories though, so you need to limit your intake to one or two tablespoons per day. A little goes a long way though.
Omega-3 fats help to ensure normal brain function, reduce artery-damaging inflammation and may the reduce the risk of dementia, cancer, and heart disease. If your diet isn’t rich in oily fish like salmon and seeds and nuts, try adding walnut oil to the mix.
This is a rich source of the omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid, which can help prevent heart attacks and stroke. It’s also an excellent source of omega-6 fatty acids.
It’s important to note that you shouldn’t heat this oil. It’s best used in marinades, dips and dressings. It can even change its chemical structure when exposed even to warm temperatures, so keep this one in the fridge.
Sunflower oil is a good source of the protective antioxidant vitamin E; in fact, your entire daily requirement is in 1-2 tablespoons. Plus the polyunsaturates it contains help lower your cholesterol too – but be aware that these are largely omega 6 polyunsaturates, so you need to ensure you’re getting omega 3s from other sources of your diet.
This type of oil is ideal for low-fat diets because it created a film more easily than other oils – spreading itself more thinly over a salad, for example. It’s less volatile than many other vegetable oils and so can be used for frying too.
It doesn’t have much flavour which can be good in some instances, but you may want to add some herbs to your bottle, like rosemary, thyme, garlic or chilli, to give it an extra kick.