Know Your Oils

Jamie Vallone, RD, CDN

One part of eating a heart healthy diet is including foods with beneficial fats called monounsaturated fats (MUFA) and polyunsaturated fats (PUFA). MUFA and PUFA are known as the heart healthy fats because when replacing the unhealthy fats known as saturated fats and trans fats in the diet, they can help lower low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels in the blood, which is a risk factor for heart disease. Oils, including these healthy fats, are a good source of essential nutrients. Oils are made from different seeds, nuts, and plants and each oil has unique health benefits and uses.

Olive Oil

• Very high in MUFA, which may help lower risk for heart disease
• A good source of vitamin E and contains antioxidants

• Can become smoky if cooked to high temperatures, so best used in dips, marinades, salad dressings, and pasta

Canola Oil

• Lowest amount of unhealthy saturated and trans fats of all oils
• Good source of omega-3 fatty acids (a type of PUFA)

• Very versatile
• Best used for cooking such as with roasting, baking, and sautéing
• Can also be used in salad dressings, sauces, and marinades

Flaxseed Oil

• High in omega-3 fats, which can help decrease chronic inflammation in the body and may help lower risk of some chronic diseases

• Do not use this oil for cooking. Use for cold dishes like smoothies, yogurt, and dressings. Store in your fridge in an opaque bottle

Peanut Oil

• Contains high amounts of antioxidants, which can help lower your risk for cancer
• Helps lower your risk for heart disease by increasing “HDL” or “good” cholesterol levels

• Can be cooked to a high temperature, so best used for pan-frying, roasting, and grilling

Avocado Oil

• Good source of vitamin E, which is good for the skin
• Some studies have shown avocado oil to help reduce symptoms of arthritis and prevent gum disease

• Good for use in both cooking and in cold dishes

It’s important to remember to use oil and other types of dietary fat in moderation as they are high in calories. Look for oils that have less than 4 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon and have no trans fats.