Hear the word “fat” and most of our reactions are to see this as a negative, something we should avoid in our diets. Not all fats are bad – in fact some healthy fat can be part of a balanced diet. At the center of this conversation is cooking with oils which is among the best ways to add healthy fats to your diet.
The two common oil choices are olive oil and coconut oil for use with cooking. But which one is a better choice?
Know the Types of Fats
Saturated Fats – These are solid at room temperature and increase your total cholesterol. High levels of consumption of these types of fats can increase your risk for a heart attack – in other words, these are the types of fats you want to be careful about.
Trans Fats – Added to extend the shelf life of processed foods, trans fats also raise your cholesterol levels and should be kept in check.
Unsaturated Fats – These are the healthy fats found in oils and are liquid at room temperature. There are two types of unsaturated fats – monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats.
The Case for Olive Oil
The American College of Cardiology published a study in April 2020 regarding the use of olive oil as an alternative to many common condiments like butter and mayonnaise regularly used by Americans. They discovered that an increase in olive oil consumption by utilizing it as a replacement for butter or other similar ingredients in cooking leads to a decreased likelihood of dying from cardiovascular diseases.
During our last seminar, we discussed the inflammation certain foods can create while other foods can reduce our inflammation. Olive oil is a great example of this as it has been cited as a food that reduces inflammatory compounds.
The Case for Coconut Oil
Recently coconut oil has become a popular choice for cooking and been proposed as an alternative for olive oil. By tracking its internet popularity on Google Trends we can see the popularity of coconut oil started to initially increase in early 2012.
A January 2020 study in the Journal of Circulation reported that, unlike olive oil, coconut oil does not provide similar benefits to lowering cholesterol. While coconut oil is likely a better choice than butter, this study proves to be a setback in considering coconut oil a top pick.