A Guide To Good & Bad Oils (Which Should You Choose & When?)

Whether you’re frying a piece of fish, drizzling it on a salad, or using it as a binding agent when baking, oil has a number of uses. While all oils make food taste great, the reality is, some oils are healthy and some are not. We take an in-depth look at some of the best options, and explain why some are not such great choices for your health!

Don't be afraid of oil, but make sure you're choosing the right ones...



 

What Is Oil?

The dictionary definition of edible oils goes something along the lines of: ‘a greasy hydrocarbon liquid substance, formed by natural resources or the breakdown of fats’. We take a look at some of the best, and worst, options for your health.

‘Good’ & ‘Bad’ Oils

We certainly don’t like to dis fat anymore in the health world, but there are definitely good fats and, well, not so good fats, to put it politely. There are many cooking and edible oils on the market, and, for many years, they were considered detrimental to weight loss. That was when fat-free everything took over the supermarket shelves when fats were considered the enemy. Lots has changed in the nutrition world since then, and, while there are unhealthy oils that are commonly used, there are also oils that come with a number of health benefits, including aiding weight loss!

cooking oil

Coconut Oil

This is the go-to oil that every health conscious person knows and loves. Touted as a weight loss ingredient, a metabolism booster, a shampoo and even a toothpaste, it is definitely flying off the grocery shelves around the world. This ‘health fad’, as it was called a few years ago, hasn’t disappeared yet and probably won’t because it really is a winner on all fronts – it’s versatile, healthy, yummy and easy to use. Like any food, you should not overconsume it, but it should definitely have a place in your pantry!

Nutritional Information (100 grams)

Calories – 862
Total Fat – 100g
Cholesterol – 0mg
Total Carbohydrates – 0g
Sugars – 0g
Fiber – 0g
Protein – 0g
Sodium – 0mg

coconut oil

What’s So Great About Coconut Oil?

Where to begin… Lots of research has gone into this white, or, translucent when fully melted, oil recently. Some studies have found it could potentially help people lose weight because of its unique combination of fatty acids that boost metabolism, burn calories and keep you feeling fuller for longer. A study out of the University of Geneva found men who ate one to two tablespoons of medium-chain fatty acid (MCFA) before meals increased energy expenditure by 5%, losing about 120 calories per day. Another two-week study found healthy men who ate a diet high in MCFAs immediately ate 256 fewer calories per day.

How To Use It

As studies have shown, coconut oil can be a beneficial ingredient in meals to keep you fuller for longer. But it also has some other benefits. Coconut oil can also be used as a hair conditioner or treatment. And, in the popular Ayurvedic tradition of oil pulling. That involves swishing the oil around your mouth when you first wake up in the morning for 10 to 20 minutes. The fats in the oil mix with the biofilm and other substances in your mouth, cleansing oral cavities and trapping bacteria. You then spit it out and rinse your mouth. Sesame oil and ghee were traditionally used in Ayurvedic culture for oil pulling, and today, people also substitute with sunflower oil or olive oil. However, a study from the Athlone Institute of Technology in Ireland found coconut oil to be the best option because of its effectiveness in preventing Streptococcus Mutans from binding to the enamel and damaging it.

coconut

Avocado Oil

If you’re not on the avocado bandwagon yet, you should jump on it quick smart! This green fruit packs a seriously powerful nutritional punch, brimming with healthy fats, important vitamins and essential minerals. If you’re not a fan of dealing with the squishy flesh, however, you can reap the benefits from the oil.

Nutritional Information (100 grams)

Calories – 884
Total Fat – 100g
Cholesterol – 0mg
Total Carbohydrates – 0g
Sugars – 0g
Fiber – 0g
Protein – 0g
Sodium – 0mg

avocado oil

What’s So Good About Avocado Oil?

There are so many good things about avocado oil, it needs its own post to cover them all. Oh wait, we have one of those already! To summarize, it can potentially lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol, increase good cholesterol, decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, reduce arthritic symptoms and boost nutrient absorption, to name just a few of its benefits.

Nearly 70% of avocado oil consists of oleic acid, which is a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid. That’s where it gets its cardiovascular disease fighting powers. Oleic acid has been proven to help lower high blood pressure and lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, known as ‘bad’ cholesterol. At the same time, it can increase high-density lipoprotein, or, ‘good’ cholesterol. Moving onto nutrient absorption, and one study found the consumption of avocado or avocado oil increased the absorption of carotenoids from salad. That’s because the salad vegetables need lipids to help the body absorb their goodness. The salad on its own is low in lipids, so by adding avocado oil as a lipid, nutrient absorption was significantly increased.

How To Use It

The best way to use avocado oil is by simply drizzling it on fresh salads. However, you can also get creative and turn it into a dressing, by adding vinegar, such as apple cider or coconut, as well as your choice of herbs and maybe a little lemon juice and maple syrup. Because it has a high heating point, you can also use it to shallow fry foods and marinade food in before cooking it.

avocado

Olive Oil

Moving away from the newer healthy oil fads, and this ancient Mediterranean food staple is still one of the best options to keep in your pantry. It is full of healthy fatty acids and antioxidants and is proven to reduce the risk of a number of diseases and conditions. In fact, this golden liquid is an important and widely consumed food in some of the world’s healthiest populations.

Nutritional Information (100 grams)

Calories – 884g
Total Fat – 100g
Cholesterol – 0mg
Total Carbohydrates – 0g
Sugars – 0g
Fiber – 0g
Protein – 0g
Sodium – 0mg

olive oil

What’s So Good About Olive Oil?

The monounsaturated fatty acids found in olive oil are considered by modern scientists as healthy, essential fats. By increasing the amount of monounsaturated fats in your diet and minimizing saturated and trans fats, you may help lower the risk of heart disease. One of many similarly conclusive studies found monounsaturated fats may regulate blood clotting and improve insulin levels, which is particularly beneficial to people with type 2 diabetes. According to research, people who follow a traditional Mediterranean diet, rich in olive oil, suffer far less from chronic inflammatory-related diseases, according to research.

How To Use It

Olive oil is very versatile and can be used in simple and more complicated ways. You can simply drizzle it on salad, along with apple cider vinegar, coconut vinegar or balsamic vinegar, or you can use it as a dressing ingredient if you’re making your own. You can also substitute butter with olive oil in sweet recipes, make your own homemade pesto or other dips, and, of course, use it to shallow fry foods.

olive oil pesto

Macadamia Oil

The only thing you won’t like about macadamia nut oils is the price tag! The health benefits and taste, on the other hand, will be very satisfactory. Macadamia oil is high in monounsaturated fats, and has beneficial omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid ratios.

Nutritional Information (100 grams)

Calories – 1412
Total Fat – 159g
Cholesterol – 0mg
Total Carbohydrates – 0g
Sugars – 0g
Fiber – 0g
Protein – 0g
Sodium – 0mg

macadamia oil

What’s So Good About Macadamia Oil?

Macadamia oil actually has more monounsaturated fat that olive oil, which is traditionally known for it. More specifically, it contains a large reading of the monounsaturated fat oleic acid, which, as mentioned above, has been proven to help lower high blood pressure and lower bad cholesterol. Macadamia oil also has a good amount of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which play a role in the prevention of arthritis, cancer and cardiovascular disease.

How To Use It

Again, this is a good salad drizzle option, but, because of its subtle nutty taste, it can also be a good binding ingredient when baking, as a substitute for butter or cheap vegetable oils. You can try it in pancake batter, or healthy nut cookie recipes, for example.

nut oil

Argan Oil

This golden oil is most notably known for its skin and hair health benefits, applied topically. But its powerful nutrients are actually extremely beneficial for your health from the inside out! It has impressive levels of vitamin E, A and F, healthy fatty acids, antioxidants and minerals. Benefits range from reducing insulin resistance to fighting cardiovascular disease.

Nutritional Information (100 grams)

Calories – 884g
Total Fat – 100g
Cholesterol – 0mg
Total Carbohydrates – 0g
Sugars – 0g
Fiber – 0g
Protein – 0g
Sodium – 0mg

argan

What’s So Great About Argan Oil?

As far as health benefits go, argan oil is right up there with the healthiest oils on the planet. The problem with having it as a regular kitchen staple is its price tag and limited availability on supermarket shelves as an edible oil. However, if you use it sparingly as a drizzle for salad every now and then, it’s a great option for your pantry. Studies have shown argan oil may help prevent cardiovascular disease. Consuming the ‘liquid gold’ may protect against atherosclerosis and cancer, because of its various biological mechanisms. It helps regulate blood cholesterol and lower blood pressure because of its unsaturated fatty acids and abundance of nutrients, and it can even improve blood circulation.

How To Use It

As mentioned, you probably don’t want to go overboard with your use of argan oil, largely because of the cost involved. It is delicious and beneficial to use drizzled on salad, or as a dip for bread. You can also use it in its more known and popular form as a moisturizer or hair treatment. However, in that case, you want to go for the cosmetic version, not the culinary version. Be careful, however, not to be tricked by marketing. Make sure what you are buying is actually pure argan oil, or a quality concoction made with other healthy natural ingredients.

argan oil

Oils To Avoid

Some of the best oils for deep frying are the worst oils for your health. As a general rule, avoid cheap vegetable oils, like canola, corn and soy. Cooking with these vegetable oils at a high temperature creates oxidized cholesterol, which has been linked directly to vascular disease. There are also potential risks associated with certain herbicides used on many US crops. Roundup, for example, is used in many crops that are grown to produce vegetable oils. The herbicide has the potential to cause adverse effects on human health, according to research. One animal study found GMO corn sprayed with roundup caused cancerous tumors in rats, potentially resulting from the toxic effects of the herbicide, or the genetic modification. The study was retracted, but then republished in a different journal. The other thing to be aware of with these cheap vegetable oils is their ratio of omega-6 fats and omega-3 fats. Most Western diets include the consumption of far too much omega-6 fatty acid and not enough omega-3, and by consuming too much cheap vegetable oil, you can increase that negative ratio.

vegetable oil

Take Home Message

There are plenty of healthy oils to choose from. Some, as mentioned above, are rather expensive for everyday use. Having said that, you shouldn’t be gulping cup fulls of oil daily anyway, in which case, a bottle should last you a month or two if you’re using it as a salad drizzle, for example, or using a tablespoon to shallow fry food. Certain healthy oils are packed full of healthy fatty acids, essential minerals and vitamins, and come with some disease-boosting, anti-inflammatory health benefits. You definitely shouldn’t be afraid of oil!

P.S. Take a look at the 5 veggies that boost female metabolism and burn off lower belly fat.

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