The Best and Worst Cooking Oils for Your Health

28 August, 2020
In addition to all the information that’s out there about vegetable oils, the different options on the market can make you hesitate when it comes to choosing the best one for your health. In this article, discover the best and worst cooking oils!

Today, there are several cooking oil options on the market. This, and all the information regarding the benefits and risks of consuming different types of fat, means that, many times, you don’t know for sure which one you should choose for your preparations. In this article, learn all about the best and worst cooking oils!

For many years, fat has earned a bad reputation due to its link, among other health problems, to excess weight and obesity. However, this information is only related to saturated fats.

Regarding this issue, a study by Missouri Medicine suggests that cooking oils contain healthy fats, and that they should be consumed in moderation to make sure you get those nutrients. We’ll you more about this below!

Are all types of cooking oils recommended?

One of the main sources of fat are the oils that people frequently used in cooking. Although most are of plant origin, people also use those of animal origin (such as fish or liver).

A post in Harvard Chan Home suggests that replacing bad fats (saturated and trans) with healthier fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) could be good for your heart.

For this reason, experts recommend using plant-based oils instead of butter, lard, and oils such as palm oil, which can contain harmful fats. Here are some of the best cooking oils:

  • Canola
  • Corn
  • Olive
  • Peanut
  • Safflower
  • Sunflower
A woman cooking with healthy olive oil.
Due to their composition, some oils are healthy for the body. In fact, their moderate consumption is advised.

You should also read: 6 Health Benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

The best cooking oils for health

Although studies on good and bad fats are constantly evolving, experts consider that certain oils have a positive influence on your health.

Here are three plant-based oil options that you could incorporate into your diet to cook in a healthier way.

1. Olive oil

Olive oil is a basic ingredient in the Mediterranean diet and is characterized by being a monounsaturated fat with cardiovascular health benefits.

A good option is extra virgin, since it’s cold-pressed, which helps to preserve all its properties and a higher degree of purity.

The Spanish Heart Foundation highlights the following benefits of olive oil. It:

  • Helps raise good cholesterol levels and lower bad cholesterol levels.
  • Benefits hypertension control.
  • Helps reduce the occurrence of thrombosis.
  • Helps lower the risk of diabetes.

Don’t forget to read: 10 Surprising Benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2. Canola oil

One of the advantages of canola oil is that it doesn’t change the taste of food due to its neutral taste. In addition, it’s low in saturated fats and contains monounsaturated fats, which is a good contribution to a healthy diet.

According to a publication by Mayo Clinic, this oil is also a good option when it comes to cooking oils, since its properties represent a safe and healthy option for cooking food.

Canola oil.
Canola oil has a neutral flavor that doesn’t alter the natural flavor of foods. In addition, it’s healthy and promotes well-being.

3. Sesame oil

This Asian oil is recognized as a source of monounsaturated fats. Its main benefits are attributed to its high antioxidants content that aren’t destroyed when subjected to moderate heat.

According to a descriptive review published in the Cureus Journal of Medical Science, evidence suggests that canola oil has the potential to lower cholesterol levels and inflammation, reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, and delay the onset of cardiovascular diseases.

The worst cooking oils for your health

Some of the vegetable oils that are marketed as healthy contain bad fats, also called saturated or trans fats. Because they’re more affordable, the consumption of these types of oils has become one of the main causes of high cholesterol problems. What are these oils?

1. Soybean oil

This type of oil, which is commonly used in processed foods, is subjected to a hydrogenation process that has the purpose of delaying its expiration and preserving the flavor of foods. This same process is responsible for turning its fats into unhealthy foods.

This hydrogenation, according to the information contained in a study by Intech Open, removes essential fatty acids that are necessary for the body. In turn, it turns some of the oil into trans fat.

2. Butter

Although this dairy product has been used for years as a spread on certain bakery products, it’s also used for cooking food.

According to a publication by Mayo Clinic, butter is made from animal fat. Thus, it contains saturated fats. Also, some varieties contain trans fats due to the processing they’re subjected to.

Therefore, experts believe that the excessive consumption of this food can lead to an increased risk of high blood cholesterol and heart disease.

Although you can identify butter that’s high in trans fats due to its solid texture, it’s important to read the foods labels of products before buying them to ensure that they don’t contain a lot of trans fat.

A stick of butter.
If possible, it’s best to avoid overly solid butter, as it contains trans fat.

We recommend you to read: Excessive Salt or Sugar Intake: Which Is Worse for Your Health?

How do you get the best out of healthy cooking oils?

Although the oils we mentioned as the best cooking options are supported by studies, it’s important that you take these data into account to get the most out of them:

  • Don’t leave food cooking in oil for a long time.
  • Any oil, even of vegetable origin, oxidizes and loses properties when it burns. If this happens, it’s best to throw it out.
  • Don’t reuse or reheat the oil.

Following these tips can help you enjoy the benefits of good cooking oils. However, if you want to make healthy preparations, it’s best to opt for those that require another type of cooking method. Keep that in mind!

  • Boskou Dr., D. (2011). Olive Oil. In Vegetable Oils in Food Technology: Composition, Properties and Uses, Second Edition. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781444339925.ch9
  • Psaltopoulou, T., Naska, A., Orfanos, P., Trichopoulos, D., Mountokalakis, T., & Trichopoulou, A. (2004). Olive oil, the Mediterranean diet, and arterial blood pressure: the Greek European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/80.4.1012
  • Fats and cholesterol. (n.d.). hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/fats-and-cholesterol/
  • Nutrición y comida saludable. (2019). Clínica Mayo. Recuperado el 12 de marzo de 2020. https://www.mayoclinic.org/es-es/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/canola-oil/faq-20058235
  • Hsu, E., & Parthasarathy, S. (2017). Anti-inflammatory and Antioxidant Effects of Sesame Oil on Atherosclerosis: A Descriptive Literature Review. Cureus. https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.1438
  • Fred A. Kummerow (February 20th 2013). The Effects of Hydrogenation on Soybean Oil, Soybean – Bio-Active Compounds, Hany A. El-Shemy, IntechOpen, DOI: 10.5772/52610. Available from: https://www.intechopen.com/books/soybean-bio-active-compounds/the-effects-of-hydrogenation-on-soybean-oil
  • DiNicolantonio, J. J., & O’Keefe, J. H. (2017). Good Fats versus Bad Fats: A Comparison of Fatty Acids in the Promotion of Insulin Resistance, Inflammation, and Obesity. Missouri medicine114(4), 303–307.