The one universal ingredient that is used commonly across almost every dish is cooking oil. It’s a staple that you will find in any household. But the question we need to ask ourselves is whether we’re really giving a thought to what kind of heart-healthy oil we’re adding to our diet?
The type of oil you cook with becomes the foundation of every meal you eat, and we need to constantly remind ourselves that cooking oil greatly impacts heart health. There are a variety of options available to you in the market, but how do you select the best oil for heart health? So if you’re wondering which oil is good for the heart, let’s understand some important factors to consider when choosing heart-healthy oils. Since edible oils contain fatty acids, and these saturated and unsaturated fatty acids impact our heart health, let us understand these fatty acids.
Understanding Fatty Acids:
- Saturated Fatty Acids: A fatty acid is when every carbon atom is connected to a hydrogen atom in the hydrocarbon chain. The more hydrogen bonding, the more the saturation since carbon atoms are saturated with hydrogen atoms. Saturated fats do not have double bonds. These are fats that are typically solid at room temperature, due to which they are often also referred to as “solid fats”. Saturated fats increase LDL or bad cholesterol which can lead to a greater risk of cardiovascular disease. It is found in foods such as cheese, butter, palm oil, poultry with skin, pork, beef, and other red meats.
- Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFAs): Chemically, MUFAs are fatty acids with one unsaturated double bond. These are a healthy class of fats typically found in plant or seed-based oils such as olive, sunflower, soybean, and nuts such as almonds, cashews, and peanuts. Monounsaturated fats contain properties that can aid heart health. Replacing saturated fats with MUFAs help by lowering LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, Total: HDL ratio and hence reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
- Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFAs): PUFAs contain two or more double bonds. These are other healthy types of fats that provide essential fats, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, both of which are critical for brain function and cell growth. Polyunsaturated fats play a significant role in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Omega-3 PUFAs may protect against cardiovascular diseases through several mechanisms, including acting as an antiatherogenic agent, lowering triglycerides, slightly lowering blood pressure, and reducing inflammatory responses. Some foods containing this type of fat are walnuts, sunflower seeds, safflower oil, soybean oil, and fish such as salmon, mackerel, and trout.
- Trans Fats: These are a type of unsaturated fats and can be found in both natural and synthetic forms. Similar to saturated fats, when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil at the industrial level, this process solidifies the oil and can be harmful to your health. Trans fat is harmful because it not only increases bad cholesterol but also reduces good cholesterol, becoming a direct pathway to heart problems. Foods containing trans fat include fried foods such as fries, some vegetable oils, vegetable shortening, and bakery items containing vegetable shortening such as muffins, cakes, and so on. Trans fat is an unhealthy fat and should be avoided as much as possible.
The fatty acids are important to be consumed and perform different functions in oils and in the body. A balance between them is hence important. According to the American Heart Association, an ideal ratio of SFA:MUFA: PUFA is 1:1:1/1:1.3:1. Most single seed oils are either rich in MUFA or PUFA. Choose blended cooking oils, that have a blend of two oils to get a good balance of these fatty acids that help get better nutrition and heart health.
Check The Smoke Point of The Cooking Oil
Smoke point or burning point refers to the point at which oil stops smoking and a high smoke point is always more desirable because overheating can release harmful toxins, causing the oil to lose all of its nutritional value. Blended oils are the best oil for the heart as they tend to have a higher smoke point since it is a good blend of SFA:MUFA: PUFA which contain saturated fats that have a higher smoke point, so you can use them for different styles of cooking like frying, and baking without worry.
Why Blended Cooking Oil is Better Than Regular Cooking Oil
So, what is blended oil and why is it beneficial? Blended oils mix MUFAs and PUFAs into a single heart-healthy oil, providing a rich supply of both fatty acids which are highly beneficial for heart health.Because blended oils have a high smoke point, they may be used in a wide range of dishes and cuisines. They also have a neutral flavour, so you don’t have to worry about the oil affecting the taste of your food; their flavour is hardly detectable, allowing the other elements in your meal to shine! A popular choice for blended cooking oil in India is Saffola Gold which is one of the best cooking oils for heart health. A low cholesterol oil that is a combination of rice bran and sunflower oil, to keep your heart health in check. To have a more detailed understanding of the benefits of blended cooking oil, read our blog “What are Blended Cooking Oils & Why They’re Good For You”.