“Which oil is the healthiest?”

Recently I was asked this great question by a friend, and I thought I would share it here because I think it is a source of confusion for many people.  You may stand in the grocery store asking yourself, what is the difference between canola oil, olive oil and safflower oil?? They all look exactly the same!

To answer this question, oil as we all know, is a fat.  In general, there are saturated fats and unsaturated fats.  Saturated fats are bad for your health, are scientifically proven to harm your heart and should be consumed in moderation.  Unsaturated fats on the other hand, are necessary for providing insulation for your organs, and you wouldn’t be able to absorb fat soluble vitamins (Vitamins A, D, E and K) without them!

To get slightly more detailed, unsaturated fats consist of polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats.  While both beneficial to your body within the recommended amounts, the U.S. diet is considerably high in polyunsaturated fats, and not high enough in monounsaturated fats.  These monounsaturated fats are beneficial for blood pressure control, and reduce your cholesterol levels when they are used in replacement of the bad saturated fats.  I apologize if I am boring you with the details, I just find it much easier to choose healthier when you know exactly why it is good for your body.

Now that you know the facts, lets break down the numbers of some of the most common fats used in everyday cooking..

Canola Oil: 59% mono, 29% poly, 7% saturated

Olive Oil: 74% mono, 8.4% poly, 13% saturated

Coconut Oil: 6% mono, 2% poly, 86% saturated

Butter: 29% mono, 3% poly, 62% saturated

Overall, low saturated fat is the most important factor to consider, so in this case canola oil “wins” with olive oil following as a very close second.  In general, you want to limit solid fats (butter, lard) and tropical oils (palm kernel, coconut, etc.).  So, if you’re going to saute something in a form of fat, I hope this helps you chose the healthier option.  Personally, I use olive oil most often due to preference of taste.  If there is another oil you prefer and would like the stats on it, feel free to leave a comment and I will look it up!


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