Olive Oil vs Other Cooking Oils
By Jeany Miller
Selecting the right cooking oil is an important choice for many. Taste, cost and health benefits all factor into just this one decision. In an effort to make this selection simple, olive oil is named among the healthiest choices of all cooking oils. It contains healthy monounsaturated fat, which, according to registered dietician Katherine Zeratsky, "can lower your risk of heart disease by reducing the total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad") cholesterol levels in your blood."
Health Benefits of Olive Oil
According to health officials, fats and oils are an essential part of a balanced diet. Olive oil in particular is rich in vitamins A, D, E and K. It contains antioxidants and stimulates bone growth as well as calcium absorption. Olive oil is also easy to digest, allowing it to absorb completely into the system. In fact, the protective functions of olive oil have a beneficial effect on ulcers and gastritis. Olive oil stimulates the secretion of bile and pancreatic hormones more naturally than medications, and it also lowers the incidence of gallstone formation. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), persons who consume around two tablespoons daily of olive oil may reduce their chances for heart disease. The greatest benefit is achieved by substituting olive oil for saturated fats rather than simply adding olive oil to one's diet. Saturated and trans fats that should be avoided are as follows:
- Partially hydrogenated oils
- Tropical oils
- Animal fats
These not only increase one's chances of heart disease, but they also contribute to other health problems, including obesity and high cholesterol.
Olive Oil against Canola Oil
A myriad of health concerns exist with regards to canola oil. It was originally produced from the rapeseed plant, which contains extreme levels of erucic acid. This is a compound that is known to be toxic to humans. Today, canola oil is produced from canola plants, which have very low levels of erucic acid and are safe for humans. The FDA also recognizes canola oil as being a safe and healthy choice for cooking. When compared to olive oil, both are high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Canola oil actually has fewer saturated fats than olive oil, but the latter still offers greater health benefits. Experts advise that frying with canola oil is a safe alternative, because the smoke point of olive oil is only 375 degrees F. Persons who are adverse to the rich taste of olive oil can also opt for canola instead, particularly at medium cooking temperatures. Canola oil is also more ideal for sweets and baked goods, whereas olive oil is better suited to savory dishes.
The Facts on Peanut Oil
While olive oil is the go-to cooking oil for Mediterranean food, peanut oil is the same for Asian foods. As with canola, peanut oil is a strong alternative to olive oil. Both have low saturated fat content, and neither breaks into trans-fatty acids at high heat. Olive oil still has a much greater level of monounsaturated fat, however, which increases its overall health benefits. Cooking methods that include frying and baking should both incorporate peanut instead of olive oil. Salad dressings and dipping sauces also commonly incorporate peanut oil, similar to the manner in which olive oil can also be used. One negative factor associated with peanut oil is that persons who suffer food allergies may experience an adverse effect.
Sunflower Oil and Olive Oil
Sunflower oil is in polyunsaturated fats but also contains omega-6 fatty acids. These nutrients are now recommended in moderation by most doctors. Another benefit of sunflower oil is its low content of saturated fat. Compared to olive oil, however, sunflower ranks poorly in terms of monounsaturated fat. Some health professional are slow to recommend cooking with sunflower despite its positive nutrients and delicious flavor. In part, sunflower oil is prone to damage from heat and light, making it much more unstable than olive oil. High-quality sunflower oil can also be difficult to find from grocery stores. In clear plastic containers, it has likely already become quite degraded.
Of all the cooking oils that are available to consumers, extra-virgin or virgin olive oils continue to be the most highly-recommended. These varieties undergo the least amount of processing, so they are heart healthy with a satisfying taste. Extra-virgin and virgin olive oils also contain the greatest amounts of polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants that can further promote heart health and minimize the risk for disease.
Sources: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/food-and-nutrition/AN01037 http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/canola-oil/AN01281 http://www.spinalhealth.net/fats.html http://www.wildhealthfood.com/the-best-vegetable-oil-olive-or-sunflower