Heart healthy fats and oil choices

Heart healthy fats and oil choices

Donovan Grant

Monday, February 24, 2020

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Dear Donovan,

Which is the healthiest cooking oil? I want to ensure that I live my best life, and there are so many options out there when it comes to oils for preparing meals. For example, I would hate to be eating healthy proteins like fish, and then have my efforts be sidelined by choosing an oil with high fat content. So can you share the pros and cons of some of the more popular oils, sprays and margarines so I can get the heart healthy fats in my diet.

The key to a healthy life is to consume adequate amounts of food from each food group. The fats and oils group is good for us because it contains essential fatty acids which are crucial for the proper working of the various organs and cells in the body. In addition, fats and oil contain high levels of vitamin A, which is important for healthy mucus membranes, improving the immune system, and providing protection against infections, bacteria and viruses. Also, one type of fat, phospholipids, is vital for use in cell membrane development.

You are right about having lots of options when choosing oils for cooking. The best type of oil for cooking would depend on what kind of cooking you are doing. All oil will have a smoke point. This is the point at which the oil starts to burn and produce smoke. This is one of the major factors when choosing an oil for cooking.

An example of an oil used in cooking is the well-known olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil is a good oil because it is not refined and it contains a large amount of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat. Many studies have shown this oil to promote better heart health.

Another popular cooking oil is coconut oil. Depending on who you ask, coconut oil should either be avoided or used in moderation. The main source of concern for coconut oil is its high saturated fat content. Unlike other plant oils, coconut oil is high in saturated fats. However, scientists are now coming to believe that not all saturated fats are bad for you and coconut oil is one of the good ones. The smoke point of coconut oil is higher than most other oils, so it is therefore a healthier oil to use when cooking at high temperatures, for example when frying.

Another popular cooking oil is vegetable oil. This is basically an oil that comes from a plant source. Most vegetable oils is a blend of canola, corn, soya bean, palm and sunflower oil. In most cases vegetable oils are refined and processed, which means that they are usually lacking in flavour and nutrients. Also, in most cases vegetable oil has been pushed past its smoke point during preparation. However, a good factor about vegetable oils is that they are usually cheaper than most other oils.

Canola oil is also a popular oil used in cooking. Canola oil is made from the rapeseed plant, and this oil is a good source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Canola oil tends to have a high smoke point. This means that it can be helpful for high-temperature cooking. However, canola oil is often highly processed which makes it low in nutrients.

Margarines are also used in cooking; however, I personally don't think this is a good idea. There's always the chance for the creation of free radicals during the cooking process.

Cooking sprays are also used in cooking. Cooking sprays are actually oil in a spray form, and it allows you to use less than if you were pouring it. The amount of oil used by spraying could also be less because it needs a small amount to coat the pan. However, when the oil is sprayed a small amount of gas propels its spray. There was some concern about this gas used to spray the oil; however, it has been found to be generally harmless.

We will answer your weight-related questions

Are you struggling to lose weight or just need some advice on living a healthier life? Tell us about your health issues and we'll have nutritionist and wellness coach Donovan Grant answer them for you. Grant has over 12 years' experience in the fitness industry and is the owner of DG's Nutrition and Wellness Centre, 39 Lady Musgrave Road. Call him at 876-286-1363. E-mail questions to clarkep@jamaicaobserver.com.

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