Oil can be healthy – here's how to choose what's best for you

Are you overwhelmed by the wide array of cooking oils available on supermarket shelves? Too much choice can be confusing. According to experts, oils or oil blends that are high in unsaturated fats, known as “good” fats, are a healthier option for daily cooking. That’s because these oils contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids which can lower your cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease, as well as conferring other health benefits.

However, since oil is a fat and therefore loaded with calories (1 tsp has an average of 40 calories), it’s important to consume it in moderation, say dietitians. You can reduce your oil consumption by adopting healthier cooking methods such as baking and steaming, instead of frying.

Your choice of a cooking oil will also depend on its smoke point; that is, the temperature at which it produces smoke. This smoke can contain toxins and be harmful for health.

Oils with a higher smoke point can be used for frying, roasting and stir-frying while those with a lower smoke point are more suitable for light sautéing, marinades and salad dressings.

5 cooking oils that are a healthier choice

Canola: This versatile oil, which features on the American Heart Association’s list of healthy cooking oils, is low in saturated fats and contains omega-3 fatty acids. It has a high smoke point.

Olive: Popular in Mediterranean countries, olive oil is a good source of monounsaturated fats and vitamin E. Light olive oil has a high smoke point.

Peanut/groundnut: This oil is high in unsaturated fats and is a good source of vitamin E. It has a high smoke point.

Soybean: This is high in omega-6 fatty acids. It has a medium smoke point so is not a good choice for frying foods.

Sunflower: This oil, compressed from the seeds of the sunflower, is high in monounsaturated fats. It has a high smoke point.


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