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Oils are packed with fats and calories but their chemistry and effect on our health can be very different.
Cooking oil is one of the kitchen essentials. But, there’s a lot of conflicting information regarding the health benefits of each of them. With so many oils being available like coconut, olive, vegetable, canola, avocado, and grapeseed oil, which of them should you use for maximum health benefits and which ones must be completely avoided?
The oil used for cooking gets its name from the nuts, seeds, fruits, plants, or cereals they are extracted from either by extracting, crushing, pressing, or processing.
Cooking oils are categorized by their high-fat content which includes saturated fat, monosaturated, and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
In recent years, coconut oil, which is around 90 percent of fat has become the latest trending food. It’s been hailed as a superfood that is likely to be stored in the body as fat and more likely to be expanded as energy.
Consuming too much saturated fat, more than 20 grams for women and 30 grams for men per day makes the body produce cholesterol in our bodies that increases the risk of heart disease.
All fat molecules are made of chains of fatty acids that are held together with single bonds or double bonds.
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Coconut oil enjoyed huge popularity three or four years ago when there were claims that it had a special effect.
But when you look at studies that compared it with other oils, the results showed that coconut oil had high saturated fats.
Most randomized trials showed that coconut oil increases the level of harmful cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein, which are directly linked with heart disease and stroke.
Lipoprotein contains a high amount of lauric acid which raises the level of HDL in the bloodstream. Studies suggest that coconut oil contains C12 fatty acid which acts as long-chain fatty acids that are directly transported to the liver.
Longer chain fatty acids are more likely to store in the liver as fats and experts suggest opting for an oil lower in saturated fat.
Which types of fats can you consume?
Polyunsaturated fats including omega-3 and omega-6 and monosaturated fat have been found to reduce the cholesterol levels and provide essential fatty acids and vitamins.
They are found in many types of vegetable oils although the exact amount depends on the plant and the technical process used for their manufacturing.
It is recommended to replace unsaturated fat with polyunsaturated fats which are found in plant-based oils and nuts and seeds.
Which oil should you use?
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Studies found that replacing saturated fat with olive oil lowers the risk of heart disease.
Studies by the Public Health Nutrition department in Boston suggested that usage of any kind of olive oil reduced the heart disease risk by 15 percent.
Olive oil is made by crushing olives and separating the oil from their pulp. It is renowned to be the healthiest of all oils.
Olive oil’s health benefits can be attributed to its monounsaturated which contains vitamins and minerals derived from plants.
Extra virgin olive oil can even prevent cancer and type 2 diabetes.
The compounds found in olive oil can prevent non-communicable diseases.
There are numerous types of olive oil but the extra virgin olive oil is by far the best as it is associated with more health benefits.
By Gayatri Yellayi