Battle of the Oils: The Best Oil for Your Health

November 11, 2013

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When you start a weight loss plan, the first step you may take is shunning all fats and oils from your diet. While it’s important to keep saturated fat intake to a minimum, in moderation, unsaturated fats can do the body a lot of good. Here’s the catch: Not all oils are created equal. A number of factors determine the best oil for your health.

Olive Oil: A staple in the Mediterranean diet, olive oil has been touted as a healthier choice, and the hype has some truths. Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fats, known as MUFAs, which studies show help lower bad, LDL cholesterol and promote a healthy heart. Research also shows consuming a healthy amount of olive oil can help shed belly fat. However, the downside, like all oils, is olive oil is high in calories, clocking in at 120 calories per tablespoon. Use it in stir fries and as a base in homemade salad dressings.

Coconut Oil: Is coconut really king? Although a small study published in Lipids found coconut oil promotes reduction in abdominal obesity, the tradeoff is it contains more saturated fat than any other non-hydrogenated oil—13 grams (92 percent) per serving. This could be dangerous if you’re trying to lose weight. More research needs to be done to examine other potential benefits, but too much saturated fat could send your bad, LDL cholesterol through the roof.

Canola Oil: Canola oil is made from crushed seeds of the canola plant. It is high in alpha-linolenic acid, which studies show help control blood pressure, cholesterol, and reduce inflammation. Switching to only canola-based products could reduce your saturated fat intake and increase your ALA intake by nearly 73 percent, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. Canola oil has enough good qualities to receive the FDA’s heart-healthy stamp of approval, but all fat should be consumed in moderation.

Peanut Oil: Peanut oil has a nutty flavor and gets it claim to fame because it’s high in vitamin E, which promotes heart health. A study published in Journal of Food Science found peanut oil can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. Often used in Asian cooking, peanut oil will bring out the flavor of your veggies in stir fries.

Who wins the battle of the oils? Dietary guidelines recommend 20 to 35 percent of your calories come from fat—mostly the healthy kind. Olive oil has the most substantial research to prove it’s the best oil for your health, with canola oil coming in a close second. Stick to these oils for your best bet to lose weight and promote a healthy lifestyle.

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