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With so much emphasis on losing weight due to the current obesity epidemic many people are changing how they cook their food. But what really is the best cooking oil to use?

With obesity across the world on the up even in the UK there is 48% rise in the amount of obese men and women in a relatively small population, so people need to start thinking about how they can lower their fat intake. Cooking oil has had some bad press in being the reason that many people are struggling to cut calories but are they really that bad and if so which is the most healthy.

Cooking oils are made up of fat but there are three different forms that they can be combined from.

  • monounsaturated - these tend to be liquid at room temperature but would be solid if left in the fridge and when you use this type of fat instead of saturated it can help improve blood cholesterol levels.
  • Polyunsaturated - these are always liquid and are also known as omega - 3 or 6 fatty acids which are essential for the body.
  • Saturated - these are solid at room temperature for example butter or lard. These types of fats will increase your cholesterol level and can increase the risk of heart disease.
Now we understand the different fats that can be found in cooking oil it is clear to see that you want your oils to be predominantly made from mono or poly unsaturated fats.

These types of fat are very good for the body so the higher these are the better and make sure the saturated fats are low.

Most common types of oil used for cooking

Olive Oil - Made up of 77% monounsaturated fat with 9% poly and 14% saturated. Although it is high in mono fats the saturated fat is still relatively high so you need to use in small amounts. It has the highest amount of antioxidants among other oils which are essential for bodily functions. It can be used for a range of recipes for example in salads and cold dishes but it can also be used to cook in stir fry's etc. The second most popular is

Canola Oil - 62% mono, 32% poly and 6% saturated. This is one of the most popular "healthy" oils to use in cooking. It has a very low saturated fat content and you can get this in a spray form as well as oil. Using canola oil has been linked to lowering your risk of heart disease. This is a great choice and can be used in all-purposes for cooking and dressings.

Hazelnut Oil - 76% mono, 14% poly and 10 % saturated. This is a good breakdown of fat content and is a healthy option if you are looking to lower your fat intake. It has a high smoke point so is mostly used to flavour meats and dressings.

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