April 03, 2019 7 min read

We all had this notion that oil or fat is what causes us to be heavy, and lazy, and unhealthy. In reality, going for the good kinds of oil - the healthy ones - offers so much health benefits that we often tend to ignore because we don’t really know much about them. We’re going to look at some of the healthiest oils that you can include in your diet without guilt.

Why Fat Is Not The Enemy

Fat has always been touted as the number one reason why people develop certain diseases such as heart disease, and why a growing number of the world’s population is overweight.Research shows that about 160 million Americans are overweight as of 2018, and the number will continue to grow for as long as the normal diet and eating patterns of people do not improve. While a good amount of physical workout is essential in keeping your body fit and healthy, choosing the right kinds of food has a great impact on your health which goes beyond just physical fitness. The kind of food that you eat can spell the difference between being healthy and being unhealthy.

But where does fat fall in this discussion? Fat derived from vegetable sources are normally better than fat that comes from animals. Not all fats are created equally and thus, their benefits and effects on the body also differ greatly. Trans Fat and saturated fat are the two types of fat best avoided yet they are the ones most easily found in food served in fast food chains, restaurants, and bakeries. They are also found in most, if not all, prepackaged snacks and chips which makes them incredibly easy to access despite being the unhealthiest fat option there is. On the other hand, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat are the kinds of fat that you need to be including in your diet and those which offer healthful benefits. They are the types of fat that your body needs in order to function properly. Although finding them in grocery food items or in restaurant menus may be difficult, it is not that difficult to include them in meals that you prepare in the comforts of your own home.

The type of fat you include in your diet can spell the difference between good health and poor health

Difference of Good Fat and Bad Fat

There are four kinds of fat that can be included in your diet but not all of them are good for you. As mentioned, not all fats are created equal and some can do you more harm than good if you eat too much of them.

  • Trans Fat is created as a by-product of the hydrogenation of healthy oils in order to prevent them from becoming rancid. It is the unhealthiest form of fat available and yet it is widely used and can be found in a lot of food items readily available in grocery stores and in fast food chains. It is commonly found in margarines and shortening, and it is known to increase the body’s low density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol while decreasing the high density lipoprotein (HDL) at the same time which can serve as one of the reasons for the development of a plethora of health risks including heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. Having a diet that consists of high levels of this fat can also make weight loss a much more difficult challenge.

Transfat is usually found in dessert items, particularly donuts, cookies, and pastries

Burgers are delicious but they are also high in saturated fat

The Mediterranean Diet is rich in monounsaturated fat and is dubbed as one of the most heart-healthy diets

Walnuts are high in healthy polyunsaturated fat which is the healthiest fat you can have in your diet

  • Saturated Fat is oil that is solid at room temperature and which can drive up levels of LDL in the body. Though nominally better than trans fat, a diet rich in saturated fat, thanks to bacon, high-fat burgers, and the like, saturated fat still poses the risk of developing heart diseases and diabetes if eaten without limitation. Saturated fat is most commonly found in whole-milk dairy products, coconut oil, and cheese and can be easily found in commercialized food products found in grocery stores.
  • Monounsaturated Fat, which can be derived from olive oil, canola oil, or high-oleic safflower oil remain liquid in room temperature and have shown to have positive health benefits such as increasing the HDL in the body while lowering LDL. These oils have shown evidence of reducing the risks for the development of certain debilitating disease such as cardiovascular diseases and have shown to help boost the body’s insulin sensitivity. Themediterranean diet, which has shown to have positive effects on heart health, is rich in monounsaturated fat and has been dubbed as one of the best diets that promotes longevity.
  • Polyunsaturated Fat, is considered as the healthiest oil that you can include in your diet. This fat which can be derived from corn oil, sunflower oil, walnut oil, or safflower oil, is considered an essential fat because your body needs it to maintain healthy bodily functions but it needs to be taken in through food because the body cannot produce this fat on its own. The two types of polyunsaturated fat, omega-3 and omega-6, are known to help in reducing blood pressure, increasing HDL, keeping heart rhythm in check, and in preventing heart diseases from happening.

Healthy Oils To Include In Your Diet

Including the right kind of oil into your diet is crucial in maintaining a healthy body. Not only does the unhealthy kind carry with it the possibility of you developing diseases such as heart disease, it also makes it harder for you to keep the weight off or to reduce it the way you would want to. Evaluating your options and going for the best one is one of the smartest ways to include good fat into your diet.

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oilcontains about 75% monounsaturated fat and has anti-inflammatory properties which have been shown to reduce swelling and inflammation in the body. It is widely used in the heart-friendly mediterranean diet as it is also known to promote arterial function and it is also a good source of antioxidants. This oil is best used on salads as dressing or as a finishing for your pan seared meat.
  • Algae Oilis a good source of DHA, which is an essential omega-3 fatty acid. It is also known to have anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce swelling. Other benefits of algae oil is the reduction of blood pressure, regularization of the heart beat, reduced risk of heart disease, and the reduction of blood clots in the body. It also reduces triglycerides and LDL for the body, and has been shown to reduce the risks of dementia. It is also a vegetarian source of omega-3 fatty acid which makes it a more sustainable source of this essential fatty acid as compared to fish like salmon and mackerel.

Extra virgin olive oil has anti-inflammatory properties and is highly recommended for heart-friendly diets

Oil extracted from seaweed is high in omega-3 fatty acid

Canola oil is said to be the healthiest oil variety that you can use for cooking, and is high in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids

  • Canola Oilis a neutral-flavored oil that you can use for frying food which makes it a healthier option compared to other vegetable oils that can also be used for frying. It is a good source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and has been known to reduce the risks of coronary heart disease from developing. It is known to contain a good amount of vitamin E and potassium, and has shown to have helpful effects on reducing early signs of skin aging. Because there are concerns about the quality of canola oil that you can buy due to the use of GMOs, you can opt to buy the organic canola oils that can also be found in grocery stores and your local health stores.

Sesame oil has an earthy and rich scent and aroma, and is known to be a good source of antioxidants

Grapeseed oil is a good source of Vitamin E and antioxidants

  • Sesame Oil is known to have a wide-range of health benefits which include boosting heart health, reducing blood pressure, and helping in the management of rheumatoid arthritis. This oil derived from such tiny seeds are packed with essential nutrients such as calcium, copper, iron, and zinc, and has been known to help in improving blood circulation and metabolism. It is also known to be a good source of antioxidants that can help prevent the negative effects of free radicals to our bodies. This oil can be used as a dressing for your salad because of its earthy taste, or can be used for light frying or stir frying of your food.
  • Grapeseed oil is a known source of vitamin E which is a fat-soluble vitamin that has been known to provide antioxidative properties against free radicals that can cause premature aging. Not only that, the antioxidative properties of grapeseed oil has also been shown effective in preventing coronary heart disease and some types of cancer. It is also known to help in managing blood cholesterol levels as well as being helpful in reducing swelling and helps in delaying the onset of alzheimer’s disease. This oil, which is derived mostly from the seeds of red grapes, can be used for stir frying and sauteing your food.

Which One Is For You?

Because there are a variety of oils that you can choose from that not only offer good flavor but health benefits as well, going for the one that suits your culinary needs is the best way to go. Having oils in your pantry that you can use for salads, for frying, or as a finishing touch to your meals assures you that you will always be able to include healthy fat options into your diet with no problem.