Four Heart-Healthy Cooking Oils (And Others to Avoid) 

July 3, 2024

Dousing heart-healthy foods with unhealthy cooking oil can undo a balanced diet in moments. How food is prepared and the oil used to cook it matters. Some oils have been proven to extend one’s healthy life. Others have been linked to heart disease and numerous other conditions. That’s why choosing the right cooking oil is important. 

Read on to learn the best way to prepare heart healthy foods with four recommended cooking oils, including the best oil for frying, and cooking oils to avoid. 

Smoke Point and the Blue Zones

Cooking oil begins to smoke at a certain temperature, depending on how much fat is in the oil. This “smoke point” determines how resistant an oil is to heat. This is when the oil no longer glistens and starts to burn. The result? Anything cooked in that oil will taste burnt; the benefits from using a healthier cooking oil will have gone up in smoke. That’s because once oil burns it incinerates any antioxidants or healthy fats.

This smoke is dangerous. It’s loaded with toxic fumes and “free radicals.” When unstable free radicals bond with other molecules it can lead to oxidative stress – damaging the body and aging the skin. Unfortunately, some of the healthiest cooking oils are also the ones with the lowest smoke points. That’s because they tend to be unrefined oils that are pressed and bottled with very little heating or filtering. Olive oil and others with lower smoke points often find their way into heart healthy diet recipes. More refined oils are resistant to higher temperatures which makes them better suited for cooking at higher temperatures. Unfortunately, they lack the flavor and nutrients of unrefined oils. Worse, some of them are very bad for the body. 

Cooking oils, along with butter and margarine, have been extensively studied. One research paper looked at the dietary habits of over half-a-million participants in the National Institutes of Health-American Association of Retired Persons Diet and Health Study. The paper concluded that people died earlier when they consumed butter and margarine versus people who used corn oil, canola oil, or olive oil. That’s partly because many cooking oils with higher smoke points are often loaded with saturated fats. Regularly using these oils increases the risk for many chronic conditions including Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

  1. Olive Oil

Heart healthy foods are often doused in canola or olive oils. Oils that are seed or plant-based have mono polyunsaturated fats which have been shown to increase high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, the so-called good cholesterol while reducing bad cholesterol –  low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. In the study looking at cooking oils and fat consumption, numerous deaths from cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease were linked to the consumption of saturated fats that are often found in cooking oils, butter, or margarine. The study concluded that, “Our findings support shifting the intake from solid fats to non-hydrogenated vegetable oils for cardiometabolic health and longevity.”

Olive oil’s surging and continued popularity has a lot to do with the Mediterranean Diet. A plant-based way of eating, it imitates the way people eat in places like the island of Icaria, Greece where people eat lots of vegetable and olive oil. It’s also one of the so-called Blue Zones where a large percentage of the population reaches their 90th birthday.  

Olive Oil is filled with the antioxidant vitamin E along with monounsaturated fat. called oleic acid. As one study on olive oil pointed out, the cooking oil has “potential interesting and beneficial effects” not only as a heart healthy food that can lower blood pressure and cholesterol but may also prevent certain types of cancer. It’s also a great oil for cooking because it’s resistant to heat (although most people do not consider it the best oil for frying because of a smoke point around 350 degrees.)

Although choosing the best cooking oil for a heart healthy diet is an important step for many people, the choice is far more beneficial when it’s accompanied by accurate information. That means learning not only about ones heart health but the health of other organs as well as information on thyroid and cortisol levels.. Fortunately, this information is easily attainable thanks to a simple at-home test from Kyla Clinics. While other companies charge hundreds of dollars for similar tests, Kyla offers a full suite of tests for just $99.

Kyle encourages patients to enhance their well-being while proactively managing chronic conditions with a combination of at-home blood tests and AI-driven actionable insights. This makes it possible to live better, longer.

The process begins with a health quiz designed to identify areas that can be improved and a choice of at-home blood tests. After receiving a kit, complete with instructions for sample collection, collect the sample and return it to Kyla Labs. Not only will Kyla deliver prompt, accurate results but it offers the option of consulting with a Kyla doctor. Patents will receive personalized advice to improve or maintain their results while being able to.continuously track progress with nutrition, lifestyle enhancements and goal setting.

  1. Canola Oil

Because canola oil has a high smoke point it may be the best oil for frying. As Mayo Clinic dietician Angie Murad explains, “…both canola and olive oil are very versatile. They are great to use in many different recipes – even in baking.” Substituting unsaturated oils like olive oil or canola oil for saturated fats is not just part of a heart healthy diet but can also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. There is also some evidence that canola oil can reduce inflammation which has been linked to cancers. 

It’s important to note that while extra virgin olive oil is usually created by pressing, this “Canada oil” is usually refined using chemicals. There have also been studies that have shown its benefits are not as great as the ones derived from olive oil. Still, for its high smoke point and benefits, it’s still a great cooking oil.

  1. Sesame Oil 

With its smoke point of over 400 degrees and abundance of antioxidants, this oil is often used in heart healthy meals. Not only can it improve cardiovascular function but it has even been studied for its preventative properties –– it may reduce the risk of neurological diseases like Parkinson’s. It’s also been linked to improvements in blood sugar levels. Sesame oil is ideal for sautéing and it delivers a nutty flavor that many find quite pleasing.

  1. Avocado Oil

Because it has a smoke point over 500 degrees, some consider avocado oil to be the best oil for frying. Like olive oil, it’s filled with fat oleic acid which has been studied for its cardiovascular benefits. Its nutrients do well in high heat and some studies suggest it could protect the liver and lower LDL cholesterol and blood pressure. It may also protect cells from dangerous, potentially cancer-causing free radicals. It has a distinctive taste, which not everyone likes. Still, it’s worth experimenting with this cooking oil because of the potential health benefits it delivers. 

Oils to Reduce or Avoid

Although trans fats are no longer found in American cooking oils, many still contain large amounts of saturated fat. Both palm and coconut oil have their advocates but there’s some evidence that they can contribute to higher levels of bad cholesterol.  The product of the African oil palm, palm oil is a versatile cooking oil. It’s also long-lasting and because of its higher smoke point, many consider it the best oil for frying. Plus, it’s loaded with the antioxidant Vitamin E. However, these benefits don’t change the fact that it has been linked to increases in LDL cholesterol which carries risks for heart disease. 

Coconut oil has its own advocates who point to studies showing that it has antioxidant properties, reduces stress and may improve blood pressure. However, coconut oil is over 80% saturated fat which risks heart health. 

All oils, no matter how healthy, are calorie dense. For anyone trying to control their weight, calories are a concern. Vegetable oils including soybean oil, corn oil and peanut oil have long been labeled heart-healthy. They are considered better for the body than butter or margarine. 

However, there are two considerations. The first is that chemicals are often used to produce these oils rather than by pressing (which is how most olive oils are produced). The other concern is that these oils are high in omega-6. Although the body needs both Omega 3 (which are found in olive oil) and Omega 6, the issue is how much people should have and in what ratio. Although the ratio was once one to one, now it’s often 20 to 1, with people consuming far more products that contain Omega 3. Some scientists have theorized that this imbalance can lead to inflammation –– which is a health risk. 

No matter what cooking oils are on the table, Kyla helps people discover how their lifestyle affects the body by tracking vital health indicators like primary care and hormone levels. Using the Kyla app allows patients to visualize their progress through graphs for better insights. That means achieving long-lasting changes with anti-aging treatments and being able to take proactive steps to enhance one’s well-being. The focus at Kyla is addressing the root cause, not just the symptoms. This includes tailored lifestyle adjustments including improving diets and fitness routines along with medication and supplements. The result is living better, not just longer. 


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