Breakdown of Fat Types
in Various Oils
Saturated Fats - the bad fats which are
known to raise blood cholesterol levels
Monounsaturated Fats - the good fat
which can lower blood cholesterol level
Polyunsaturated Fats - in between fat
which has some good and bad properties
Trans Fatty Acid - a man-made fat which is worse
for you than saturated fats. These are made when cetain oils are heated (see below) and
are also present in foods which contain hydrogenated oils such as margarine. If you use
margarine buy one that is non-hydrogenated. Read food labels and avoid all products which
contain hydrogenated oils.
The following points regarding the above graph should be
Notice that Olive oil has the largest proportion of
monounsaturated fats. These are the "good" fats that are desirable in your diet.
Also of note is the extremely large proportion of
saturated fat (the "bad" fat) in coconut oil. This is common of other tropical
oils such as palm oil. Palm oil is the oil that got a lot of attention when it was
discovered that movie popcorn was being popped in this evil oil.
While Canola oil appears to be the best oil of the bunch
due to its low amount of saturated fat and relatively high levels of poly and
monounsaturated fats, the benefit of the high levels of monounsaturated fat in Olive oil
outweigh the benefits of lower levels of saturated fat in the Canola oil. Another
important factor which should be considered is the fact that Olive oil (as well as Peanut
oil) does not breakdown into trans-fatty acids at high heat and can therefore be used in
cooking. You should avoid cooking with oils other than Olive or Peanut oil.
Butter and margarine are also outlined above. Different
types of margarine will have different proportions of the above fats. If you cook with
margarine (ie-fry foods) the heat will create trans-fatty acids in the margarine (even in
non-hydrogenated margarines) so in this instance you would be better to use butter which
does not breakdown in the heat. Better still is to switch to Olive oil because then you
dont have to worry about trans-fatty acids or saturated fats. Margarines which are
made with Olive oil make a good choice but your best bet is to avoid them all together
because there is not a lot of benefit that comes from eating margarine or butter.
To summarize, use more olive oil, avoid tropical oils,
eliminate hydrogenated oils and trans fatty acids from your diet. These are simple steps
towards good health.
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