When it comes to cooking oils, you have lots of options. But narrowing down the list by what’s healthiest gets tricky. It boils down to specific types of fats, the amounts of those fats, and their benefits. If you’re unfamiliar, here’s our primer on the healthiest oils.
There are three major groups of fats: polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, and saturated fats. Polyunsaturated fat is the most heart-healthy and provides several benefits. More specifically, the omega-3 fats within provide the most benefits, including support for healthy inflammation levels, cholesterol levels, and overall heart health (an added bonus—they also help burn fat). Monounsaturated fat provides some health benefits, but not as many. And saturated fat, which you may have heard is “bad,” can lead to unhealthy cholesterol levels if it’s the main source of fat in your diet. That said, including a diet rich in omega-3s while eating a diet consisting of some saturated fats may not produce any unhealthy outcomes.
When it comes to choosing the healthiest oils, and figuring out which are the best, there are a couple things to consider:
- Which types of oils are highest in polyunsaturated (omega-3) fats?
- Which is best for the type of cooking or preparation (frying vs. using as a dressing)?
Jordan Mazur, M.S., R.D., is the coordinator of nutrition and team sports dietitian for the San Francisco 49ers.