Healthy Fats: Which Oils Are Best?

Vegetable oils can contain lots of healthy fats, but which ones are best?

(RxWiki News) By now, most people know that vegetable oils often contain healthy fats, but which ones are best?

That's the topic we explore in this article. Read on to learn more.

Fats to Avoid

Let's begin with fats you generally want to limit in your diet. First, we have saturated fats.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, less than 7 percent of the calories from fat you consume each day should come from saturated fats. These are found in animal products like butter, whole milk, cheese, lard, bacon fat, red meat and poultry skin. You can also find saturated fats in coconut oils and palm oils.

Then, we have trans fats, which you should try to avoid entirely. Any food product that contains partially hydrogenated oils is likely to contain trans fats. These oils are common in processed foods like cookies and frozen pizza, although many states are beginning to set limits or even bans on trans fats. Still, it's best to check for and avoid these fats whenever possible.

Both saturated and trans fats are considered unhealthy because they can raise your level of "bad" (or LDL) cholesterol. That, in turn, can lead to cardiovascular problems that can be deadly.

Healthy Fats in Cooking Oils

Now for the fun part. Which healthy fats are best in cooking and edible oils? The healthy fats you will find in oils will fall into two categories: monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. Both of these types of fats are thought to actually reduce the level of bad cholesterol in your blood.

Monounsaturated Fats

Extra virgin olive oil is one of the most popular healthy oils that contains monounsaturated fats. Other options include avocado oil and many nut oils.

Particularly if you are cooking with high heat, peanut and almond oils can be a great alternative to unhealthy oils you might typically use.

Polyunsaturated Fats

Polyunsaturated fats are less common in cooking oils and more common in foods high in omega-3s, such as salmon, mackerel, herring, chia seeds and flaxseeds. However, you can find polyunsaturated fats in oils derived from walnuts and sunflower seeds.

Other Considerations

While eating more healthy fat and less unhealthy fat is generally a good idea, it's important to note that all fats are high in calories and can still have negative impacts on your health when consumed in excess.

Additionally, no oil is considered healthy when it has reached its smoke point — the point where it gets so hot that it begins to smoke — so if you accidentally burn your oil, don't cook with or eat it.

Finally, even healthy oils can go bad. Store all oils in a cool, dry, and dark place and throw them out if they smell rancid.

Always speak with your health care provider before making any major changes to your diet.