These days, there are many kinds of cooking oils. There is avocado, coconut, sunflower, olive, canola… and that is only scratching the surface of the available options.
This begs the question: How do you decide which is the best cooking oil for your heart health?
This week, the American Heart Association answered this question once and for all with their formal comment revealing the ten key factors of a heart-healthy approach to eating. You have probably heard most of them before: Eat plenty of veggies and fruits, choose whole grains, go for unprocessed foods and limit your alcohol intake. But the group has also advised using “liquid non-tropical plant oils such as olive or sunflower oils” when a heart-healthy meal is desired.
Lisa Moskovitz, RD, agrees that there is nutritional clout with AHA’s new recommendation. “Although you would imagine anything to do with tropics is a great thing, in this case, tropical oils like coconut or palm oil are not always the top choice,” says Moscovitz. “That is because these commonly used fats are higher in inflammation causing saturated fats.” Too much saturated fat can boost your LDL cholesterol, which can also increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.
The health benefits of olive oil
Olive oil on the other hand has a heart-healthy reputation from its high amount of monounsaturated fatty acids, a healthy form of fat that can help lower your chances of getting heart disease. One 2014 study of 35,512 men and 63,867 women — all of whom were free from heart disease, cancer, and other forms of chronic illness at the start of the research—found that people who took a half a tablespoon of olive oil each day had a 15 percent lower risk of having heart disease. Plus, they also had 21 percent lower risk of getting coronary heart disease. But the benefits of olive oil go well beyond the heart.
“Apart from being good for your heart, extra-virgin olive oil gives antioxidants that fight the inflammation that is triggered by dietary habits and daily stressors,” says Moskovitz.
Author: Steven Sinclaire