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If you are like most people your head might be spinning from all the new modern ways people tend to cook these days. Advice is coming from all angles, as you seem to hear from: cooking blogs, TV shows, friends, Facebook shares and the list goes on. How do you navigate through the sea of this new information? Is Olive oil good for you or is it not anymore?
I got curious and wanted to do a little investigating on my own, and give you the condensed information on the facts of what cooking “fat” is actually good for you, and which ones should be banned from your kitchen.
Let’s look at the most popular and most talked about oils out there. The criteria we are mostly going to look at which oil has the highest amount of “good” fats, and minimal amount of saturated fats and trans fats. Let’s start from the bottom.
Coconut Oil 1 Tbsp – 117 calories
The promoters of coconut oil have gone as far as to claim that coconut oil can cure Alzheimer’s disease. Shockingly, the Alzheimer’s association came back with a sarcastic reply that if it were in any way beneficial it would be shouted about from every rooftop. Believe it or not coconut oil is the worst when it comes to cooking. It has about 7% “good” fats, 5% of neutral fats and 88% of “bad for you fats.
Besides the fact that coconut oil delivers a high amount of “bad” fats it also can contribute to a decline of heart health, increase in LDL cholesterol and overall health as it is known to cause an increase of inflammation.
Canola Oil 1 Tbsp – 124 calories
Canola oil has about 72% of “good” fats, 24% neutral fats and only about 4% of bad fats. It is nice that canola oil has neutral flavor and does not start to smoke from a very high heat right away as some other oils do. Don’t you just hate running to open all windows and doors as the oil smoke fills the kitchen and smoke alarms start blaring? Another great characteristic of canola oil is that it has a relatively long shelf life. Not that cooking oils stay for very long on the shelf at my house. One of the key factors of why canola oil is good for you is the fact that it has the highest amount of alpha-linoleic acid, and omega 3 fat, which is known to improve heart health.
Flaxseed Oil 1 Tbsp – 130 calories
Flaxseed oil has about 77% of “good” fats, 17% neutral fats and 7% of “bad” fats.
Studies show that flaxseed oil can actually help treat some medical conditions like: high cholesterol, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, constipation and even cancer (can help prevent the growth of tumors in a breast tissue).
Flaxseed is a very good source of alpha-linoleic acid and can help decrease inflammation.
Olive Oil 1 Tbsp-119 calories
There is a lot of information on how good this particular oil is. Most recommend using extra virgin oil because it helps to keep “bad” cholesterol levels low and increase the levels of “good” cholesterol. You can drizzle it on salads, steamed veggies, sauté with it, or even use it in place of butter on toast. I have to admit when my mother started oil pulling about 20 years ago the smell of the olive oil made me want to gag. I never even dreamt of using it for cooking. But the smell grew on me and now I crave a beautiful toast with avocado, salt and pepper and a drizzle of an extra virgin olive oil. I am now craving breakfast, is it tomorrow morning yet?
How Much Fat Should Be Used?
Fat is an essential nutrient and is very important especially for kids in brain development, healthy skin, healthy hair and nails, blood clotting and it can help to control inflammation. It is also important to note that consuming too much of it can increase your chances for heart disease.
If you are one of the lucky people that have never struggled with weight or have lost weight and achieved your “ideal” shape you should probably still have an idea of not only what kind of fats but how much fat you should be consuming on the daily basis.
Contrary to a popular believe that a person on a diet should not have any fat or be “fat free” it is actually recommended that healthy fat be included in everyone’s diet on daily basis. It is, however, important that guidelines for consumption be followed.
One gram of fat provides about 9 calories. So the amount of fat will really depend on how many calories you consume on the daily basis and if you are trying to sustain your weight, lose some, or maybe even need to gain some. If your body requires about 1,600 calories a day you should be consuming about 44 – 62 grams of fat. For a 2,000 calorie diet 44 -78 grams of fat per day is recommended.
If you are trying to reduce your weight, your fat intake should be around 28-38 when a 1,200-calorie diet is followed.
Some healthy food ideas that provide plenty of good fats are avocados, salmon, all types of nuts, eggs and the healthy oils we have just talked about above.
Remember your body needs all sources of nutrients. Do not fear fat as it can actually help you stay healthy and lean!
Akhtar S, Ismail T, Riaz M. Flaxseed – a miraculous defense against some critical maladies. Pak J Pharm Sci. 2013;26(1):199-208.
Bassett CM, Rodriguez-Leyva D, Pierce GN. Experimental and clinical research findings on the cardiovascular benefits of consuming flaxseed. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2009;34(5):965-74.