Not all fats are unhealthy. Contrary to popular belief, our body needs fat to absorb certain essential nutrients, to help cell growth and also to protect our organs.
But beware! Not all fats are good: Monounsaturated fats improve blood cholesterol levels and polyunsaturated fats help the body eliminate “bad” cholesterol. The omega-3 found in these can also help prevent blood clots and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. The good news is that these fats are found in good quantities in certain vegetable oils. As for trans fats and saturated fats, they should be avoided!
Extra virgin olive oil
Olive oil is very popular in the Mediterranean and it's no surprise. Extra virgin olive oil has a high level of good monounsaturated fats, which are excellent for heart health. Quality olive oil also has a high level of polyphenols, a natural anti-inflammatory that has a potentially protective effect against Alzheimer's disease. A good way to know if an olive oil has a lot of polyphenols is to taste it: it will have a peppery/pungent taste in the back of your throat!
According to the Canola Council of Canada, canola oil has the lowest saturated fat content and the highest omega-3 fatty acid content among other cooking oils. It is also very rich in oleic acid (omega-9 monounsaturated fat) and thus helps to reduce the risk of heart disease if it is used as a replacement for other saturated fats.
With its mild and neutral flavor, avocado oil can be eaten both raw and cooked. According to Dr. Juneau, Cardiologist and Director of Prevention at the Montreal Heart Institute, avocado oil improves the level of "good" cholesterol associated with a reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease and premature mortality thanks to its exceptionally high level of monounsaturated fat. Regular consumers of avocados even have a risk of coronary heart disease reduced by 16% (1 serving per week).
With a high level of proanthocyanidins, which are actually a kind of polyphenol found in many plants, grapeseed oil has strong antioxidant properties. With a high content of omega-9 monounsaturated fatty acids and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, it promotes good vascular health and regulates blood cholesterol levels. It would even have the ability to counter the oxidation and inflammation of cells.
High oleic sunflower oil
Like grapeseed oil, high oleic sunflower oil is an excellent source of omega-9 monounsaturated fats that help lower bad cholesterol in the blood. It is also an excellent source of vitamin E. Oleic sunflower oil contains a minimum of 75% monounsaturated fat, unlike regular sunflower oil which contains less than 25%. This is why it is important to choose the right sunflower oil to benefit from all its effects!
Sesame oil, this classic of Asian cuisine, is actually very high in polyunsaturated fats and has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It would potentially help reduce the risk of heart disease and atherosclerosis, which is actually an accumulation of fat in the arteries leading to increased blood pressure.
Finally, it is very important to adopt a healthy diet low in saturated fat to maintain and improve your cardiovascular health!