Have you ever looked at the nutritional facts box on food packaging and felt good after seeing low levels of cholesterol? We all have. Even after consistently paying close attention to things like sodium and cholesterol levels, have you ever gone to the doctor and still received a stern warning that you need to watch your cholesterol levels? We’ve all been there. How do we raise or lower our cholesterol levels? Which of the newest oil trends is right for me? This blog is here to offer a simple, repeat SIMPLE, explanation as to how we can effectively navigate the confusing world of cooking oils and help bring cholesterol levels under control.
Let’s begin by talking about cholesterol. Many people don’t find out what cholesterol is all about until their doctor advises them it’s too high. So when you’re looking at the nutritional facts box, the simple label, “cholesterol,” can be misleading. There are actually two forms of cholesterol:
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) – This is the good cholesterol. A diet rich with the right fatty acids can raise your HDL levels and lower your blood pressure.¹
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) – This is the bad cholesterol. Make sure you keep this number low. High LDL levels can lead to clogged arteries and put us at risk for heart disease and stroke.²
What about cooking oils?
We need to understand what oils essentially are: fats.³ Before you leave the post and throw out all your cooking oils, understand there are good fats and bad fats. Well, what are they?
The Good (oils that remain liquid at room temperature)
Monounsaturated fats – these are the oils containing omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids your body needs. They help your body build healthy cell membranes and allow your body to absorb important vitamins. The best overall oil to use is olive oil for general cooking. Canola oil is decent for baking.⁴ ⁵
Sources? Olive oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil, sesame oil⁶
Polyunsaturated fats – these oils largely do the same thing, but with a little less of the essential fatty acids your body craves.⁷
Sources? Soybean oil, corn oil, safflower oil, flaxseed oil⁸
The Bad (oils that remain solid at room temperature)
Saturated fats – these are the fats that can raise our LDL levels and put us at risk for heart disease and stroke.⁹
Sources? Butter, lard, palm oil, coconut oil, hydrogenated vegetable oil¹⁰
The Ugly (see the Bad)
Trans fats – Run far away. Trans fats not only raise LDL cholesterol, but also lower HDL cholesterol.¹¹ There is no safe amount of trans fat that should be consumed by any human being, ever.¹² In fact, in June 2015, the United States Food and Drug Administration banned trans fats from use by the food industry.¹³
Sources? Shortening and stick margarine¹⁴
These are the basics to navigating the cooking oil aisle and taking control of your cholesterol levels. Follow these guidelines and you’ll strut through the doctor’s office with confidence! Good luck!!