Posted on 01/24/2018 at 12:00 AM by Troy Cummings
When are oils a healthy choice?
Throughout the month of January we learned about different types of fats and how to reduce the consumption of saturated and trans fats while finding ways to incorporate the healthier unsaturated fats into our diets. We talked about oils as a source of unsaturated fats, and it is important to understand why we need them and in what quantities. All fats and oils are a mixture of saturated and unsaturated (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) fatty acids. What makes oils a healthy choice is that they contain more of the monounsaturated (MUFAs) and polyunsaturated (PUFAs) fats than saturated.
You can identify most oils as fats that are liquid at room temperature. Some oils such as coconut oil and palm oil contain higher amounts of saturated fats that cause them to be solid at room temp and they should be considered solid fats for nutritional purposes.
Oils come from many different plants and from fish and while they are not a part of any particular food group, they do provide essential nutrients. They do not contain any cholesterol, as no plant foods do, and the PUFAs provide certain fatty acids that are necessary for health- called “essential fatty acids”. The MUFA’s and PUFAs found in fish, nuts and vegetable oils do not raise LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels in the blood. These are superior to saturated and trans fats which tend to raise LDL cholesterol, and in turn increase the risk for heart disease. In addition to the essential fatty acids they contain, oils are the major source of vitamin E in our diets.
Some commonly consumed oils include olive oil, safflower oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil, and mixtures made for salad dressings. Some solid foods are naturally high in oils as well such as nuts, nut butters, olives, avocados and some fish (ex: salmon, trout, tuna). While consuming some oil is necessary for good health, they still contain calories and the amount consumed needs to be limited. The recommended allowance for individuals depends on age, sex, and level of physical activity.
For women aged 19-30 the daily allowance is 6 teaspoons and 5 teaspoons for women 31 and older. For men aged 19-30 the daily allowance is 7 teaspoons and 6 teaspoons for men 31 and older. If you feel like you are lacking oils in your diet try making a swap from solid fat to oil such as using olive oil to sauté vegetables or fry an egg rather than stick butter or switch to oil based salad dressings over those like buttermilk ranch.
Written by Kasey Lockett, Rolling Strong Wellness Coach