Heart Healthy Oils
Plus, pro tips on how to use them right!
By Dani Rodriguez-Brindicci, MS, RDN
(Contributor Christina Kirklin, Nutrition Intern)
Fat is an essential part of a healthy diet, with current recommendations suggesting intake of 20% to 35% of calories from fat. For a 2000-calorie diet, this is between 400 and 700 calories (44g to 78g) of fat daily. Evidence suggests that replacing dietary saturated fat with unsaturated fats may reduce the risk of developing coronary heart disease*. One way you can do this is by choosing healthier vegetable oils when cooking and preparing foods.
Here is a list of common cooking oils that contain more of the good fats and less saturated fats that can be damaging to the heart: canola, olive, peanut, soybean and sunflower. Some specialty oils—like avocado, sesame and grapeseed—can be healthy but may also cost a bit more or be more difficult to find. Disclaimer: Even the “good fats” in some oils listed above are still fats; just because an oil is healthy does not mean you should add it to everything like it is calorie-free.
You can use cooking oils in a variety of ways. For example, use them to:
- substitute for butter, margarine or solid fats in recipes
- coat pans to keep foods from sticking
- spread or drizzle on foods for flavor
- grill, sauté, stir fry, bake or roast foods
- make your own salad dressings, marinades, dips and sauces
Before you pick which oil to use, it is important to assess the needs of your recipe. If you are trying to fry something, you will want to select oil with a neutral flavor and a high smoke point. Oils with high smoke points are typically those that are more refined, because their heat-sensitive impurities are often removed through chemical processing, bleaching and filtering.
In celebration of Heart Healthy Month, we have developed this nutrition comparison of eight commonly used cooking oils, illustrating the different levels of saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat content, as well as average price, smoke points, recommended cooking usage and calories per serving. Oils that are great sources of polyunsaturated fat include corn, soybean, grapeseed and sesame oil. Some excellent sources of monounsaturated fat include avocado, canola and olive oil. The average price of each oil was derived from a minimum of five different brands of similar products.
For more information contact one of our Registered Dietitian Nutritionists at the Torrance Memorial Specialty Center: 2841 Lomita Blvd., 3rd Floor, Suite 335 • 310-891-6707
Sources: *Nettleton JA, Brouwer IA, Geleijnse JM, Hornstra G. Saturated Fat Consumption and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease and Ischemic Stroke: A Science Update. Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism. 2017;70(1):26-33. doi:10.1159/000455681