It’s no secret that one of the keys to a healthy heart is a balanced diet. It’s important to monitor how much cholesterol, sodium, saturated fat and protein are contained in the food we eat. A great way to create healthier meals is to swap out the stick of butter for vegetable oils.
Heart healthy oils can be the base of many recipes. They can be used for sautéing, frying, roasting and making salad dressing. Vegetable oils, which consist mainly of polyunsaturated fats, reduce bad fats, such as saturated and trans fats.
But, with so many types and varieties, where do you start?
Avocado Oil – This oil is low in saturated fat and is largely composed of monounsaturated fat. Monounsaturated fats lower bad cholesterol levels in your blood and help reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. Avocado oil also has a very high smoke point which makes it a great option for searing, frying and grilling.
Canola Oil – Lowest in saturated fat, canola oil has demonstrated that it can reduce plasma cholesterol levels. This Sriracha Glazed Chicken with Paprika Butternut Squash is a fun way to spice up a recipe with canola oil.
Grapeseed Oil – Grapeseed oil is becoming increasingly popular and for a good reason! It’s rich in polyunsaturated fats, phenolic antioxidants and vitamin E. But be careful, grapeseed oil can turn bad quickly. Store it in the refrigerator to help prolong its shelf life.
Olive Oil – Olive oil has long been associated with the Mediterranean diet and heart health, but do you know why? It has been shown to improve HDL levels (good cholesterol) and increase absorption of fat soluble antioxidants. Your salad dressing is a great place to start incorporating this oil.
Peanut Oil – Peanut oil is naturally trans-fat free, cholesterol free, and low in saturated fat. It also contains antioxidants and unsaturated fats that help protect cells. Just make sure you exercise moderation; a heavy-handed pour can really tack on the calories, as with use of any vegetable oil.
Safflower Oil – Safflower oil may not be the first oil that you are used to reaching for, but doing so may help to lower your LDL or bad cholesterol levels. It is considered a healthier fat, and a good source of linoleic acid, which is essential to our bodies. It can be a great alternative to butter without compromising on taste.
Sunflower Oil – This is another good alternative to butter because it is high in polyunsaturated fat. Because it has that characteristic, it is helpful in fighting off heart attacks and strokes by helping to lower our LDL or bad cholesterol.
Overall, choose oils that contain no more than two grams of saturated fat per tablespoon, and always check that there are no partially hydrogenated oils or trans fats included in the ingredients.
Ready to get cooking? Here’s a roundup of recipes that feature these heart healthy oils: