While too much fat, especially of the “bad” variety, can lead to weight gain and health problems, a moderate amount of fat is essential to a healthy lifestyle.
Adding a little fat to your food, either through cooking or drizzling over salads, can help to fill you up and feel more satisfied after a meal, as well as boost health by helping the body absorb several fat-soluble vitamins.
However, with the recent news that coconut oil, long believed to be a “healthy” fat, should actually be avoided, many of us may be wondering once again which fats are the good ones.
Here we round up some advice from the University of Kentucky on which oils to keep on hand in the kitchen, and which to avoid.
This oil is the lowest in saturated fat, just 7 percent, while also containing high levels of monounsaturated fatty acids, which lower LDL and in recent years have been studied for potentially helping control blood glucose.
This oil is great for stir-frying, grilling, and replacing many solid fats — the ones to avoid — in recipes.
An important ingredient in the popular and healthy Mediterranean diet, olive oil is well-known for its many health benefits, including lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease and a reduced level of inflammation in the body.
Use extra-virgin and virgin olive oils for uncooked dishes, like salads, and choose refined olive oils for cooking as they are better at higher temperatures.
High in monounsaturated (good) fat, peanut oil also contains vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps maintain a strong immune system, healthy skin and eyes, and helps with the formation of red blood cells.
Thanks to a high smoke point, this oil is ideal for frying, roasting and grilling.
This oil is also high in monounsaturated fats and vitamin E, and also has a tasty but mild flavor, making it great to add cold onto salads.
It also has a high smoke point for those who prefer to cook with it. However, if avocado oil is too expensive or difficult to find, canola oil makes a good budget-friendly alternative.
And the oils to avoid
Saturated or “solid fats” should be consumed sparingly — these are the oils that are solid at room temperature such as coconut oil, butter, palm oil, beef tallow, and lard.
Because saturated fat contributes to a rise in the level of LDL cholesterol, also known as “bad” cholesterol, the AHA recommends that saturated fat should make up a maximum of 10 percent of total caloric intake for healthy Americans, and a maximum of 6 percent for those who need to lower cholesterol levels.