You might be surprised to learn that not all cooking oils are created equal, especially if you are trying to get rid of that belly. Like many of us, you probably grab a spray can of oil or whatever bottle of cooking oil is on sale, or rely on the kind your mom used to use.
I’m going to let you in on a secret, though. The type of oil you choose really does matter. And if the oil you depend on is yellow and is sold in big, gallon-size jugs… this is probably the last type of oil you should be using for your health.
Let’s take a look at five oils you should most definitely avoid if you want to be healthy and have a flat stomach. Then we’ll look at the 5 best oils to replace them with.
5 Cooking Oils to Avoid
Okay, it’s not actually an oil. But it is made from “vegetable oils” (soybean oil, corn oil, canola oil) that are unhealthy, which we’ll talk about in a bit, as well as (often) added man-made trans fat, which helps it stay in a solid form. Synthetic trans fat (as opposed to the naturally occurring trans fats found in some meat and dairy products) is probably the worst fat you can eat. It raises your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and lowers your HDL (“good”) cholesterol, which increases your risk of heart disease.
Now, there are so-called trans-fat-free margarines available, but these are really no healthier than their trans fatty cousins. In these margarines, the trans fat is replaced with another chemically constructed fat that may increase blood sugar and insulin resistance. Not only that, but it still lowers HDL and increases LDL, so not only are you increasing your risk of heart disease but you’re also increasing your risk of diabetes and weight gain!1,2
And another little tidbit you may not be aware of: The labels “trans fat free” and “zero trans fat” are a bit misleading. Manufacturers can have 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving and still claim to have no trans fat.3 While this is a very small amount, it all adds up, especially since health experts agree there is no safe level of trans fats.
The bottom line is there is nothing nutritionally useful in margarine. It is a man-made, highly processed chemical spread that can lead to serious health issues.
2. Soybean Oil
Soybean oil is also known typically as vegetable oil. Yup. The same stuff that margarine is made from. Soybean oil is very high in linoleic acid, which is also known as omega-6 fatty acid. Now, omega-6 fatty acids are needed by your body. In fact, they are essential for proper brain function, regulated metabolism, bone health and more. However, we need a balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids for optimal health.
Today’s typical diet gives us a major imbalance in these essential fatty acids. We don’t get enough omega-3 (the kind found in fatty fish and fish oil) and we get way too much omega-6 (due to the vegetable oil and soybean oil that’s added to virtually every processed food). This imbalance can contribute to obesity as well as various other serious health issues.
Soybean oil is also very unstable and goes rancid quickly. Rancid oils form free radicals that, as you may know, can lead to cancer, accelerated aging and other diseases.
When you heat soybean oil, it goes rancid even faster. It simply cannot withstand the heat used in your cooking (and many soybean oils may be rancid before you even begin cooking, due to heat and light exposure during storage and transport).
And if all that isn’t enough to convince you that soybean oil should be a no-no in your kitchen, consider the fact that almost all soybeans are now genetically modified. Genetically modified soy is linked to fertility problems, allergies, and more.
3. Canola Oil
Like soybean oil, canola oil is typically genetically modified. It has also been linked to vitamin E deficiency and heart problems. There is a great deal of controversy over canola oil because it was originally derived from rapeseed, which is very high in erucic acid, a compound linked to heart damage. Today’s canola oil contains much lower amounts of erucic acid, but it hasn’t been eliminated.
Note that canola oil was originally intended as an industrial lubricant. It is highly processed and contains trans fats, like margarine. It’s also easily damaged by heat… so definitely not a good choice for your stir-fry.
4. Corn Oil
Corn oil is popular for cooking and is probably the most popular of oils for frying. But that doesn’t mean it is healthy. Like soybean oil, corn oil also has far more omega-6 fats than omega-3 fats, contributing to the imbalance that so many people face today.
And corn oil, like other “vegetable oils,” is not as stable as you’d like to think. It goes rancid fairly quickly on the shelf and even faster in the frying pan. While it may last longer than soy and canola oils, depending on how long it sat on the store shelf before it made its way to your kitchen, it may be rancid before you even buy it. Not to mention, most corn is genetically modified to produce a built-in pesticide that splits open insects’ stomachs when they eat it – which you then get to eat when the corn is harvested and processed. Yummy!
5. Olive Oil
Surprise! You thought olive oil was healthy, didn’t you? Well actually… it IS. Very, BUT, it is not a good oil for cooking. It is unstable at high temperatures. This causes it to form those nasty free radicals we discussed earlier.
Olive oil actually has lots of wonderful health benefits. It is full of antioxidants and monounsaturated fats that have been shown to reduce belly fat and help your heart. So enjoy it drizzled over salads and vegetables or as a dip for your whole grain bread, but don’t cook with it if you want to keep all those great benefits intact.
Now that you’ve removed all the unhealthy oils from your kitchen, You’ll be happy to find that there are several delicious options that provide lots of health benefits — they may even help you lose that belly you’re working so hard to get rid of.
5 Best Oils for Cooking
1. Sesame Oil
Sesame oil is ideal for frying and sautéing because it can handle high temperatures without breaking down. It also imparts a wonderful flavor that can really make your favorite dishes pop. This tasty oil isn’t just for cooking though. It is also great in salad dressings. Makes me hungry just thinking about it…
In addition to its value in cooking, sesame oil has numerous health benefits as well. It is made up of monounsaturated and poly-unsaturated fats, which means it may lower your LDL cholesterol. It is also very high in antioxidants and vitamin E and is a powerful anti-inflammatory. Studies have shown sesame oil may actually lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels. There is also evidence that it could inhibit cancer cell growth.
Oh, and did I mention it also helps you lose flab? That’s right. In one study, researchers noted “a significant reduction was noted in body weight and body mass index (BMI)” when study participants used sesame oil in place of all other cooking oils and they believed this was due to the poly-unsaturated fatty acids, which increased the “satiety” hormone leptin in the blood.
2. Avocado Oil or Grapeseed Oil
Avocado oil, surprisingly, comes from the actual avocado flesh and not the seed. Like sesame oil, it is great for sautéing and salad dressings. It has an unusually high heat tolerance so you don’t have to worry about it going rancid while you cook. And because it is more than 50 percent monounsaturated fat, it is great for your heart as well. It may also protect your cells from cancer-causing free radicals.
Grapeseed oil is wonderful drizzled over a salad or veggies and is good for sautéing and baking. In addition, it is a potent antioxidant. It is rich in vitamin E, flavonoids and linoleic acid. Because it is high in poly-unsaturated fats, it may also help to prevent diabetes.
Okay, this isn’t exactly an oil, but neither was the margarine we talked about earlier. Thankfully, if you threw out that nasty margarine, butter makes a healthy and tasty alternative.
Butter contains lecithin, which helps your body metabolize cholesterol. It is also rich in antioxidants such as vitamins A and E. Grass-fed butter, in particular, is also a good source of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), the fat-fighting oil which is also known to be heart healthy and inhibit cancer-causing substances and belly fat. Really… eating real butter made from the milk of cows that are allowed to roam free on pasture and eat grass can help you lose belly fat.
So what makes grass-fed butter so much better than regular old butter? Well that’s easy. When cows are fed their natural diet, they are healthier. Healthier cows produce healthier milk that’s richer in natural super-nutrients like CLA. Which means healthier milk products like grass-fed butter. So you can feel like you’re indulging, but really you are taking care of your body. It doesn’t get much better than that.
4. Coconut Oil
We’ve discussed coconut oil before. It is a very stable oil that can handle high-heat cooking and it is great for your heart because it can help lower LDL cholesterol. It also contains lauric acid, which converts to monolaurin — a fatty acid that helps you fight off viruses and infections.
Perhaps best of all, coconut oil is also shown to help with weight loss. This makes it a great addition to your collection of cooking oils. It is ideal for baking and offers an amazing, tropical flavor, too.
5. Macadamia Nut Oil
Macadamia nut oil is very high in monounsaturated fatty acids and is also antioxidant rich. It is also a very stable oil that does not easily oxidize when heated, so like the other oils mentioned, it is great to cook with. And if you have ever tasted a macadamia nut, you have to know it is going to impart some wonderful flavor to your meals. That said, the flavor is light enough to not overpower other foods. I use this oil to cook eggs all the time.
This oil has been found to improve cholesterol levels and even contribute to weight loss.It also has an ideal balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. This balance is important to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disease, cancer and inflammatory diseases.
See? You have lots of healthy options! Which ones are you going to try first?
My study of how to achieve and keep good health began when I was 18 and has been my lifelong passion. I have learned much over the years and when my T.O.P.S. group dissolved, I created Talk 'N Share. Life happened and I have not done anything with it until now. Since the beginning of this year I have learned many important things and wish to share with others, who like myself, may find it nearly impossible to lose those last few pounds and maintain the loss already achieved.
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