Cholesterol is a type of waxy substance (blood fat) that helps make vitamin D, cell membranes, bile, and steroid hormones. The liver makes all the cholesterol to meet your body’s needs.
But you can also get cholesterol from eating animal foods, which are the dietary sources of cholesterol. However, foods high in saturated and trans fats stimulate the liver to produce more cholesterol.
It’s also important to consider saturated fats in oils because they can cause cholesterol buildup. For example, coconut oil, palm oil, and palm kernel oil contain saturated fats that can increase what’s called “bad” cholesterol.
Not all oils are the same, and choosing an oil rich in unsaturated or unrefined fats is essential for cholesterol management. Whether you’re sautéing some vegetables or frying an egg, you want an oil that isn’t overly processed or refined.
How to choose the healthiest oil for cholesterol?
From nutrient composition to flavour, many types of cooking oils are available in the market. However, it can be challenging when choosing the right oil for your cholesterol.
Oils are a mixture of several fatty acids and come from animal products, nuts, fruits, seeds, or grains. The heart-healthy oil that lowers your risk of high cholesterol and heart disease is rich in healthy unsaturated fats.
Unhealthy cooking oil is high in saturated and trans fats. Nutritionists recommend choosing oils with less than four grams of saturated fat per tablespoon, with no trans fats or partially hydrogenated oils.
Here are some factors to consider when choosing an oil:
The combustion point or “burn point” is the temperature at which the oil is no longer stable. As a result, the oil ceases to be glossy, begins to turn rancid, loses its nutritional value, becomes unpalatable, and produces harmful compounds or free radicals.
A study showed that free radicals disrupt cholesterol metabolism. Therefore, oil should not be cooked to a temperature higher than its burning point. Instead, use oils with a high smoke point to avoid overheating and the production of toxic chemicals.
The healthiest and safest oil for cholesterol should withstand high heat. Therefore, choosing the right oil suitable for different cooking methods is essential.
Repetitive and non-repetitive
Refined oils undergo a high-heat extraction process, which results in a loss of their natural nutrients, flavor, or aroma.
Conversely, unrefined or cold-pressed oils are extracted with no or little heat without compromising their natural nutrient content, taste, and aroma. Therefore, unrefined cooking oils are more nutrient-dense options.
Each cooking oil comes with its own fat profile. Health experts recommend using oils that contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats to benefit your overall health.
Daily consumption of oils rich in saturated and trans fats increases the risk of chronic diseases, including high cholesterol.
What is the right oil for cholesterol?
maiden olive oil, The least processed, olive oil is one of the healthiest options because it contains zero cholesterol. One tablespoon of olive oil contains 2 grams of saturated fat, 10 grams of monounsaturated fat, including oleic acid, and about 1 gram of polyunsaturated fat.
A study showed that the powerful antioxidants in olive oil increased HDL and lowered total cholesterol, LDL, and triglycerides more than other vegetable oils.
Choose cold-pressed olive oil because its pressing process never exceeds a certain temperature, ensuring maximum quality. Regular olive oil is also healthy and contains monounsaturated fats but has low anti-inflammatory properties. However, extra virgin olive oil does not have a high combustion point. Therefore, it’s best for slow cooking, sautéing over medium heat, and dressing on salads or as a topping for pasta.
Avocado oil, which is obtained from the pressed pulp of avocados, is good even at high temperatures. Unrefined avocado oil has a smoke point of 375 degrees, while refined avocado oil shows a high smoke point of 520 degrees. Avocado oil has the highest monounsaturated fat content of all oils, with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and heart-healthy benefits.
Avocado oil also contains beneficial antioxidants like lutein, which your body doesn’t produce on its own. So adding avocado oil is a great way to get some lutein, which supports your eye health. Unfortunately, although avocado oil is healthy, it can also be very expensive.
Soybean oil, the leading edible oil consumed in the United States, is an excellent non-fish source of omega-3 fatty acids. A study showed that soybean oil (1 and 1/2 tablespoons per day) lowered cholesterol levels. In addition, the phytosterols in soybean oil reduce LDL cholesterol.
Peanut oil is a high-heat cooking oil made from the seeds of the peanut plant. Unrefined or cold-pressed peanut oil preserves most nutrients and is a budget-friendly option.
The relatively high smoke point of peanut oil is ideal for grilling and roasting vegetables and grilling meats. While you can use peanut oil for deep-fat frying, this method of cooking is unsuitable for cholesterol and negates the health benefits of the oil.
Sesame oil is cholesterol-free but has a lower smoke point than other types. Plus, it contains a healthy mix of fats, with each tablespoon containing more than 5 grams of monounsaturated fat and 2 grams of saturated fat.
You can use sesame oil to saute vegetables or as a salad dressing ingredient, but its more intense, nutty flavor may conflict with general-purpose cooking.
Chia seed oil
Chia oil is a golden-colored oil full of alpha-linolenic acid, which helps form heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. It has a very high smoke point and a neutral flavor, and is suitable for light stir-fries, pastas, and salads.
While chia seeds are rich in fiber, the oil lacks fiber due to the extraction process. Therefore, do not rely on chia seed oil to meet your fiber needs.
Some oils are unhealthy or lead to an accumulation of cholesterol in the body because they contain a high percentage of saturated and trans fats. A healthy oil should contain less than four grams of saturated fat per tablespoon, such as olive oil. Furthermore, never cook oils above their smoke point.
Cooking oils should be avoided or used sparingly
Coconut oil is very popular on the keto diet and Paleo diets, but it is made up of 90% saturated fat. Therefore, coconut oil is controversial with regard to cholesterol and blood pressure.
Since it is high in solid fats, it is best to use coconut oil in moderation. However, virgin coconut oil, which is extracted at lower temperatures, may benefit from regulating cholesterol levels.
Palm oil is a tropical oil rich in palmitic acid, a type of saturated fat that increases the risk of heart disease and high cholesterol. It contains about 7g of saturated fat in one tablespoon. Therefore, palm oil should be limited or avoided in a heart-healthy diet.
Lard is an animal product that comes from pork fat. It is high in calories, saturated fat, and cholesterol, with each tablespoon containing 12 mg cholesterol, 115 calories, and 5 g saturated fat.
In addition, the small amounts of naturally occurring unsaturated fats in lard cause a cholesterol imbalance by raising LDL cholesterol.
Partially hydrogenated oils
Partially hydrogenated oils are the main source of unhealthy trans fats. Trans fats, also called trans fatty acids, can raise levels of “bad” cholesterol and lower “good” cholesterol.
This should be avoided, especially when trying to control cholesterol levels. These artificial trans fats shouldn’t be your go-to, especially when trying to lower cholesterol. Therefore, always check “Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil” in the ingredient list.
Take control of your cholesterol with HealthifyMe
You can receive stats and numbers about your health from your doctor or import cholesterol readings from various sources, but you may not always have the right tools to understand or take action on the results.
Launching HealthifyPRO brings you closer to understanding your health and how you can better manage it. The app provides a simple view of your cholesterol, glucose levels, and other metabolic parameters over time, along with personalized interpretations of your lipid profile. High cholesterol, like high blood pressure, has no symptoms.
Therefore, HealthifyMe provides accessible insights to help you understand how your eating behaviors are affecting your heart health and empower you to take action to improve outcomes.
HealthifyMe coaches will use your body metrics, such as BMI, BMR, muscle mass, and body fat percentage, to build a plan customized to achieve your fitness goals. Thus, you can manage your cholesterol with a customized diet and exercise plan as per your lifestyle and preferences. CGM also gives you real-time insights into your blood glucose levels, which coaches use to tailor your diet and fitness plan.
In addition to choosing heart-healthy oils when cooking, here are some other tips for controlling your cholesterol:
- Aim for 150 minutes (30 minutes five days a week) of moderate-intensity exercise each week.
- Choose wholegrain varieties and eat 4-5 fruits and vegetables daily.
- Replace red meat with lean protein options such as chicken, turkey, fish, eggs or beans.
- Choose healthy cooking methods, such as baking, boiling, poaching, or grilling instead of frying.
- If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation.
You may have noticed a large number of cooking oils on grocery store shelves. However, not all cooking oils are created equal, and the oil you choose can be good for your cholesterol or vice versa. Whatever your diet, the oil you use should contain monounsaturated fats, or omega-3 fatty acids.
Healthy cooking oil is an oil that is free of saturated and trans fats. But the composition of the oil is only one part of its health. Oils also have a range of smoke points, and you need oils that can withstand high heat to prevent the release of harmful chemicals.
There are many factors that must be evaluated and compared when trying to manage cholesterol. HealthifyMe helps you get accurate nutritional information. With Pro Coaches’ input, you can find the best oils and foods that will bring the most benefit to your cholesterol levels and overall health.