Which oil?Confused about which oil is best to eat? No wonder the latest research shows it's no longer a simple case of 'saturated fat = bad, polyunsaturated fat = good'. We've summarised the latest scientific thinking...
Fat typesSaturated no double bonds between carbon atoms. Historically thought of as unhealthy, but recent research shows they tend to be healthier when cooking at high temperatures. Found in coconut oil and butter.
Monounsaturated one carbon-carbon double bond. Found in avocados, olives, olive oil, almonds and hazelnuts, and also in lard and goose fat.
Polyunsaturated two or more carbon-carbon double bonds. Includes Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. When eaten in as food such nuts, seeds, fish and leafy greens, they have clear health benefits. However when cooked at high temperatures they can be damaging.
Cooking with oilsWhen frying or cooking at a high temperature, the molecular structures of the fats and oils change. They undergo oxidation they react with oxygen in the air to form aldehydes and lipid peroxides. At room temperature something similar happens, although more slowly.
Consuming or inhaling aldehydes, even in small amounts, has been linked to increased risk of heart disease and cancer. Oils that are rich in polyunsaturated fats generate more aldehydes than other oils when cooked. Oils that are richer in monounsaturated and saturated fatty acids are much more stable when heated. In fact, saturated fats hardly undergo oxidation at all.
|Oil||Fat content||How healthy is it?|
|Olive oil||~75% monounsaturated fats||
|Rapeseed oil||28% polyunsaturated,|
|Flax oil||~70% polyunsaturated||
|Hemp oil||~75% polyunsaturated||
|Sunflower oil||65% polyunsaturated,|
|Coconut oil||~90% saturated fats||
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